Chef Johnny Hernandez’s Paella Challenge Sees Growth, Continued Support from Community

Over $350,000 Raised by Event, Proceeds Go Towards Culinary Education, Resources and Advocacy

SAN ANTONIO – February 2, 2017 – Since its inaugural event in 2010, Chef Johnny Hernandez’s annual culinary competition has seen unwavering support from chefs, corporations, and the community. Now in its eighth year, the Corona Paella Challenge is excited to build on the prior year’s success by moving the event to Mission County Park, allowing for more attendees, more chefs, and even more paella.

“We started out with a dozen chefs in an undeveloped field at Pearl,” said Chef Johnny Hernandez, event host and restaurateur, of the event’s first year. Today, the event gathers more than 30 chefs from around the country and Mexico to San Antonio. “Year-after-year we continued to receive amazing support from sponsors like Silver Eagle, Valero, H-E-B and Sysco. It was with their continued support and dedication that we were able to add more chefs to the line-up and even started a high school competition.”

The 3rd Annual Paella Challenge introduced the event’s 1st Annual H-E-B High School Paella Challenge where 25 students from five San Antonio high school culinary programs competed for an all-expenses-paid trip to the Culinary Institute of America campus in Hyde Park, New York, a grand prize that still exists in the competition.

In addition to adding the high school component, Hernandez recognized that the exponential growth to the professional competition justified incorporating a new category for chefs to compete in: contemporary. “There are as many versions of paella as there are cooks,” Hernandez said. So in addition to variations of authentic Valencia-style paella incorporating saffron, rabbit, and snails, the Paella Challenge has seen everything from dessert paella to sushi paella. “Much of the excitement at the Challenge is experiencing the different interpretations and approaches the chefs have to this traditional dish.”

Event-goers now even have the opportunity to vote on their favorite paella for a chance to decide who is crowned People’s Choice Paella Champion at the event. “There’s a dedicated following from many of our guests,” said Hernandez. “Creating the People’s Choice was our way of involving them in the competition and thanking them for their continued support.”

The San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is a long-time supporter and founding partner of the Annual Corona Paella Challenge. “We are excited to support Chef Johnny Hernandez move this event to Mission County Park to help bring San Antonio attendees to visit the World Heritage Site which will add even more to the cultural aspect of this great family-friendly event,” explained Ramiro A. Cavazos, President & CEO, San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Honorary Consul to Spain. “The Annual Corona Paella Challenge has become a family tradition in San Antonio where guests look forward to sampling paella and sharing this unique Spanish dish with their family and friends.”

At the 8th Annual Paella Challenge, guests can continue looking forward to over thirty professional chefs from around the country and Mexico putting their culinary creativity on display as they compete to be crowned Paella Champion. In addition to professional chefs, twelve high school teams from San Antonio and surrounding-area high school culinary programs will compete in the 6th Annual High School Paella Challenge with their own renditions of paella. Guests will also enjoy entertainment from Grammy-winning Latin Jazz musician, Henry Brun, and a Flamenco dance experience by the Guadalupe Dance Company, wines from Spain, beer, and sangria.

The event is slated for Sunday, March 26, 2017, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Mission County Park. Parking at the event is free and ticket prices are all-inclusive—meaning it includes entry into the event, sampling of amazing Paella and other tasty bites from the chefs, as well as beverages (beer, wine, sangria, sodas, and water). General admission for guests 21 years of age and older is $75 and admission for guests under 21 are $25. Children six years of age and younger get free admission. Proceeds benefit Kitchen Campus, a non-profit organization with a mission to connect today’s youth to culinary opportunities through education and advocacy.

For more information on participating chefs and directions to the new event location, visit www.paellachallenge.com.

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ABOUT KITCHEN CAMPUS

Kitchen Campus is a non-profit organization established in 2014 by Chef Johnny Hernandez. The organization’s mission is to connect today’s youth to culinary opportunities through education and advocacy.

Kitchen Campus is an out-of-school program that provides students from middle school and high school with an opportunity to learn about food, nutrition, and cooking while exploring careers in the culinary industry. Activities include hands-on cooking classes, lectures, field trips, and guest chef workshops. Kitchen campus works on behalf of local students who may not otherwise have the funds, access to resources, or the mentors necessary to help guide them to financial success through the culinary arts.

The vision of Kitchen Campus is financial success through culinary arts. Program graduates will thrive—prepared to succeed with basic cooking skills and nutrition education, knowledge of the food industry, and leadership experience that empowers them to make a difference in their community.