DÍA DE LA PAELLA: Entrevista a Rafa Margós

PAELLA DAY: Interview with Rafa Margós

Sep 19, 2023
"We show that paella is not a Sunday dish"
On September 19, our Executive Chef Rafa Margós had the opportunity to chat with Eduardo Enric from the Levante-EMV newspaper on the occasion of World Paella Day. An opportunity to share impressions, philosophy and everything behind El Paeller. We leave you with the interview:

Rafa Margós shares his philosophy: "Honesty, kilometer zero and seasonal product" Rafa Margós gave life to his father's dream of bringing paella to the whole world. With the El Paeller formula, you manage to preserve the essence of wood-fired paella inside a can or glass jar, making its consumption accessible in any country. The paeller master shares with Levante-EMV the keys to his project.

QUESTION: Where does El Paeller come from? How was the idea carried out?
The Paeller arose from an idea of ​​my father's in 1995. In 1990, my father founded a takeaway paella house. It was going so well that every year the paellero had to be expanded. In '95, what I tried was to ensure that the paellas made at my house could travel further afield. A paella to carry more than 10 km does not make sense to move because it gets cold. Contact the CSIC and they are doing tests for a year. The conclusion they reach is to finish the paella, put it in a plastic container and refrigerate it. That idea dies there. Years later, I studied hospitality and in 2005 we founded the Las Bairetas restaurant, where we have the largest paellero in the world. Then I remember my father's idea and try to put it into action, but without packaging the wood-fired paella in plastic. That's how I thought about cooking everything, the broth, the meat, the vegetables, without adding the rice. The first test I did was an olive factory. They didn't turn out bad. The paella had a shelf life of a couple of years and could travel. So, I try to develop the business with partners, to take it to a global level, but I can't find the right people. In 2013, I met Wikipaella. I am friends with the founders and I told them the idea. It was in 2017 when they became interested. In 2020, we bought an autoclave and a seamer and started doing more serious tests. In Denia, where they made about 70 cans a day, Corte Ingles buys the product from us. I took advantage of the pandemic and decided to take the leap. We built our workshop in Chiva and we are able to produce between 1,500 and 2,500 cans or glass jars a day. We have endless products.

QUESTION: What is your philosophy?
Cook in a very environmentally friendly way, from the firewood, the ingredients, to the packaging. Both the can and the glass, which is what we use, are recyclable. We don't want to see a single piece of plastic. We also like to work with a lot of honesty, a lot of zero kilometer and seasonal products.

QUESTION: One of the objectives is to make paella accessible anywhere in the world. Is it well valued outside of Spain? Have we done something wrong?
Until a few years ago we have done many things wrong. Paella today is highly valued by people like Casa Carmela, Vicente Rioja, Rafa Vidal, Toni Montoliu, and ourselves. We have shown that paella is not a Sunday dish. Thanks to them, paella is beginning to gain the importance it deserves. Currently, it is the next fashionable dish worldwide. After pasta, pizza, sushi or hamburger, what comes next is paella. The world wants to eat paella and wants to learn how to make it. And each one will do it with their own recipe. It doesn't occur to us that they put chorizo ​​in it, but what should matter to us is that it is made into paella. The problem can come when someone sells it as "Valencian paella."

QUESTION: What does it mean to you that in countries like Germany, Japan or the United States you can eat real Valencian paella?
It can't be anything more than pride. It is a responsibility too. They have to have quality, know what they have to taste like.

QUESTION: This year you are participating as a jury in the World Paella Day Cup. What does an event like this entail?
All these events are what help the growth and global recognition of paella, they enhance and make the dish more accessible, they make people curious. Tourists come to Valencia to eat paella. The more of these initiatives there are, the more the desire to want to do things well will grow. When you have no references, if they give you a bad paella to try, you will think that the dish is like that. If you have seen how it is cooked and have tried several, you may have some criteria.

QUESTION: What should the perfect paella have?
The perfect paella does not exist. In the end the cook has total freedom to amalgamate the ingredients as he pleases. They don't come to the World Paella Day Cup to make a Valencian paella. What we value is that there is harmony and that the execution is good. Loose, dry and tasty rice, and the whole thing is good.

QUESTION: In addition to outsourcing paella, you have several restaurants. What makes them special?
Las Bairetas de Chiva is a wood-fired paellero, which is why it is the most special. Then there are those in València, Pelayo, Vaqueta and Casa Baldo, which are managed by my brother Pablo Margós. They are mainly restaurants with seasonal products and kilometer zero.

It was a pleasure to share this conversation with our friends at Levante-EMV, you can read the interview as originally published at this link: Levante-EMV.com