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This story first appeared in the Oct. 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Insiders on the Emmys party circuit might be just a little bit pooped out on paella.
The Spanish rice dish, served theatrically in huge vats, was the culinary centerpiece of ICM’s brunch at Fig & Olive on Sept. 22. It then dominated intestinal tracts at History’s Hatfields & McCoys shindig at Soho House and the Motion Picture & Television Fund Evening Before party in Century City later that evening before appearing yet again at the typically indulgent HBO post-telecast Sunday night fete at the Pacific Design Center.
So why was this carb-based, shellfish-oriented, hot-food trend peaking on a 100-degree weekend between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur? Some cynically speculated that its popularity is rooted in the sort of masked budget savings that have prompted the rise of short ribs instead of steak across the private-events space during the recession.
But paella partisans insist the rationale is pure.
“People just love this dish, especially at parties,” says Fig & Olive executive chef Pascal Lorange, who served 80 pounds of his chicken-shrimp-and-scallops iteration to more than 300 guests. “It’s easy to eat with a spoon, it’s something everyone enjoys — and you have an extra hand free for your drink or your phone.”
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