I wrote about a cooking class last October that featured fideuá, which is basically noodle paella from Valencia in Spain. In sum, you swap rice for short thin noodles, pair it with a glass of white wine, and enjoy. The class was a warm-up for a fideuá face-off , with nine local chefs, a few days later.
The chefs set up along one side of Nali Patio with pans, noodles and their own fish stock and special ingredients. It was good to see fellow North Americans giving it a go, including American Kin Hong of Taco Bar and, representing the Great White North, Canadian Jun Trinh of 4 Corners.
The judges flew in from Gandia, a coastal city in Valencia province, to taste the fideuás. The stakes were high given a top prize of a plane ticket to Spain to compete in the 42nd Fideuà de Gandía Competition. My money was on Australian Rob Cunningham of One East because 1) he attended the class and produced more notes than a BB King guitar solo and 2) his tasted close to the one at that class.
As the chefs worked their magic, attendees tried samples, including from a huge fideua made by Jaume Fuster, and guzzled tasty Spanish wines. Then it was time for the results and, indeed, Cunningham won while Alberto Becerril from Velvet and Alex Sanchez from Niajo made sure Spain was well represented with two of the three top spots.
Whether or not Cunningham can build on this win to achieve international victory with his fideua and its secret ingredient — I think he used vegemite. He says he didn’t but I don’t believe him — we shall see later this year.