UP to 275 restaurants in 10 countries have been granted the coveted Wikipaella distinction.
Known as the ‘paella Oscars’, Wikipaella is a non-profit organisation backed by institutions such as the Valencia regional Tourism board and Visit Valencia.
During the award ceremony held this week, Valencia city Tourism councillor Emiliano Garcia praised paella as ‘much more than a rice dish’, highlighting its social function as a meeting point for family and friends, and stating that it is ‘part of our culture and identity’.
Garcia added that work is underway to obtain national and international recognition for the dish by declaring it a Bien de interes cultural, or cultural heritage item.
The Wikipaella awards are granted on a yearly basis with the list of recipients growing every year since the ‘contest’ was launched in 2013, with the aim of rewarding restaurants that contribute to Valencian rice culture all over the world.
This year, 86% of winners are based in the Valencia region, with 146 in Valencia Province, 62 in Alicante and 33 in Castellon.
Up to 23 chefs in other parts of Spain have also been awarded the distinction, namely from Madrid, Cordoba, Avila, Jaen, Formentera, Cuenca, Vizcaya and Barcelona.
On an international scale, 11 Wikipaella awards have been bestowed on restaurants in the UK, Colombia, Costa Rica, the United Arab Emirates, USA, Italy and Mexico.
Furthermore, 60 chefs have been awarded the Cullera de Fusta ‘wooden spoon’ distinction, granted only to restaurants who cook the paella on a wood fire – considered the highest level of commitment to Valencian cooking.
Again, Valencia obtained the most merits with 30 Culleras, followed by Alicante with 15 and Castellon with seven.
Awards were also given to businesses that use local, homegrown products and for sustainable and environmentally friendly practices.
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