On Friday 20 September, three Michelin starred Valencian chef Quique Dacosta was awarded the prestigious Cullera de Fusta for Arros QD, his London restaurant with rice at the heart of its offering. Awarded by the Wikipaella.org guide, Cullera de Fusta translates as the “Wooden Spoon” award and is given to restaurants in recognition of the highest level of commitment to gastronomic Valencian culture – or, in other words, the best paella restaurants in the world. Arros QD becomes one of 33 restaurants to hold the spoon and joins Jaleo by José Andrés in Las Vegas to become one of only two restaurants to win the award outside of Spain.
Dacosta was awarded the prize on World Paella Day while hosting a masterclass at Arros QD to teach guests the key elements of successfully cooking an authentic paella – widely acknowledged as Spain’s most international recipe. One of the most recognised experts in the field, Dacosta’s book and treaty about rice, Arroces Contemporáneos, was published in 2005, and he opened Arros QD in June 2019 with the intention of bringing the traditional Valencian dish beyond Spain’s borders. At Arros QD, diners can watch their paella being cooked over an impressive eight-metre flame grill – making the restaurant befitting of a Cullera de Fusta, where one of the criteria for winning is that restaurants cook their paella over an open fire using wood from orange branches and vine wood.
Speaking at the event on Friday, Dacosta said, “It is our duty to act as guardians over paella. We must take care of our popular recipes, but also be generous with those who are interested in getting to know us”.