Nick Meyer keeps a close eye on what would become his winning paella masterpiece. JOHNNY WHITE/Contributed

Record crowds showed up to sample the merits of six chefs’ version of the storied Spanish rice dish known as paella (pronounced PIE-ay-uh)

Tickets for the event included on-site hand-rolled cigars, wines from Key West Fine Wines, music by Martina Bevis and a raffle. 

Nick Meyer won first place, Fred Varela came in second and Scott Goldstein placed third.  

“I took the contest seriously and followed strict protocol, sharpening my attention with the aid of a fine wine,” Meyer said. “It was important that the wine be Spanish (at first).”

 Six teams participated in the event, and each was required to set up its own gear. The cook-off coincided with a plein air art show featuring works created on the grounds of the Little White House. The mood was so festive that a spontaneous auction erupted with proceeds benefiting preservation efforts for the historic Southern mansion.

 “We’re thrilled with the turnout,” said Maxine McGlone, operations manager, “and we hope to raise the visibility of this important historic landmark by creating more fun family events here. I find it incredible that so many people, including locals, have never visited this amazing place and we’re working hard to change all that. How often does anyone actually experience the way an American president lived?”

Although President Harry S Truman’s famous “winter white house” in Key West is now a museum, it still provides a retreat for the nation’s leaders. The Truman Little White House is also available to host private events year round.

 More information is available from Jeanna Garrido at 305-294-9911.

Paella Cook-Off winner Nick Meyer celebrates his crowning glory at the Little White House on Feb. 4. JOHNNY WHITE/Contributed

 

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