Many chefs have secret recipes, and they would guard the recipes like family heirloom. Others, however, use cooking demonstration to good marketing effect. Last Sunday, we were invited to a cooking demonstration of authentic Spanish paella at the food court on 4th floor of SM Aura Premier mall.

Did you read that correctly? Someone is doing a cooking demonstration of paella in a food court?  We all expect food found in food court to be just good enough for filling the stomach, because it needs to be priced lower than restaurant food. So what is the point of demonstrating the cooking in a food court?

The idea, it seems, was to show that this outlet in a food court can genuinely serve good quality paella at affordable prices. And we think they succeeded, at least on the day of the cooking demonstration.

Rico Rico Paelleria was opened at the end of January 2017. It is a new venture by the group behind Las Flores, a high end Spanish restaurant located in Fort Bonifacio, and Churreria La Lola. 

The food demonstration started punctually at 12:30pm on that Sunday, and regular lunch was being served to customers like usual during the event. Executive chef Edgar Sanuy conducted the demonstration with little fanfare. Except for a Spanish guitar quartet playing in the background, there was no hoopla or any fuss. He used a huge paella pan, with a 30 inch diameter pan to cook his paella. It was big enough for at least 20 servings!

The huge paella was seasoned with two aioli: parsley is the light green one and the bright yellow one is safron aioli.

In the mean time, SM Aura's marketing staff kept us fed with regular size paella of different flavors. There was a little confusion at the begining, about the dollop of yellow sauce placed in the middle of the paella. At one point, some of us thought that it was an egg. But after eating it, we realized that it was a sauce that was meant to be spreaded and mixed with the rice and other ingredients. Later, we learned that the dollop is called aioli, a sauce made of garlic and olive oil with origin in the Mediterranean and southern Spain.

The rice had absorbed the full flavor of the broth used in cooking the paella, and the aioli added a further dimension to the flavor. The meat or seafood served with the rice tasted like part of the paella, and yet was delicious on their own. 

Chef Edgar came from southern Spain. He is a Catalonian who has worked in restaurants in many developed countries. He became the executive chef of Rico Rico three months ago. During the cooking demonstration, he focused completely on the cooking, making sure that the temperature of the stove was correct, and that the ingredients were mixed properly, all by himself. 

The media was served with several paella, one with beef, another with pork and chicken and finally the black ink with seafood paella.

The video that captures the cooking demonstration fully reveals the steps taken in cooking the giant paella. But do not worry for Rico Rico. The sauces and stock that used remain a secret to would-be imitators.

At the cooking demonstration, Rico Rico managed to show that you can get good paella at an affordable price at their counter, while not revealing all their secrets!

Apart from paella, sangria was served to the bloggers.

At P99 per single order of paella, and P150 for a set of paella with a glass of sangria, the price of this food offering is unbelievably great. Whether the customers will get the quantity and quality of ingredients served in our paella when the media's cameras are not there would be a real test for the pricing strategy of the establishment. 

Happy bloggers enjoying the paella provided by Rico Rico.

Video of the cooking demonstration


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