He’s outdoors, standing behind a washtub. Bubbling and steaming, the food before him—mussel shells popped open, little pink arches of shrimp, strips of red bell pepper and handfuls of peas—is intricately arranged and riotously colorful, while the chef, grinning, spreads his arms wide to present his handiwork. For Chef Miller, the spectacle is nearly as important as the sustenance.
“I have great respect for the art of cooking live paellas,” he says.
Chef Brandon is a mobile paella caterer who typically cooks for groups of 10 or more, outside on patios or in backyards, at parties where there are often other diversions—at clients’ requests, he’ll arrange live guitar music, waiters and bartenders, even flamenco dancers. He travels all over Northern California doing family gatherings, weddings, birthdays, office parties, and so on.
Originating in Valencia, paella is one of Spain’s best-known dishes, a hearty combination of meat, seafood, and/or vegetables on a base of saffron-tinted rice. It’s food meant to serve a crowd, and indeed, meant to be prepared outdoors—as Chef Brandon notes.