Debra Aspinall samples a sensational paella takeaway cooked the authentic Valencia way.

I’ve always considered myself ‘not bad’ at cooking a paella.

But I wouldn’t dream of putting mine up in a contest against the real thing.

In fact, having chatted to Juan Askew I’m not sure I can even rightfully call my effort a paella.

For a start I don’t cook mine in the wide, shallow traditional pan used to cook the dish on an open fire (and the pan that gives the dish its name). I also use chorizo in mine.

This is a no no according to Juan.

Chorizo should never go near a paella.

And he should know. Juan was born in Valencia, the home of paella, and was indoctrinated into the traditional local dish at a tender age.

His grandmother owned an orange farm just outside the city and whenever he visited, the workers would serve up traditional Valencia paella - rabbit and snails included.

The paella is from Juan's market stall

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There were no snails or rabbit in my takeaway this week, but there was an incredible depth of flavour in our seafood paella with giant prawns, tender squid and plump, perfectly cooked mussels.

The rice was sublime. Infused with intense flavour from Juan’s sofrito (a fried-down sauce/paste which forms the base of the paella and is made up from a specific mix of peppers, onions, garlic and herbs). It’s this piquant mix that does away with any need for chorizo which, apparently, causes unwanted issues when rendering down.

Quite frankly Juan’s paella was probably the tastiest I’ve ever eaten, and you’ll probably find me lurking around Beaconsfield on a Tuesday lunchtime in future.

Juan is a familiar face at Beaconsfield Market where his street food paella is served up every Tuesday under the Paella Shack brand.

From January he will be going it alone, running his own paella and tapas food business: Valencia Supper Club.

We Brits generally opt for two familiar versions of the dish, chicken or seafood, and Juan offers these along with a vegetarian option packed with courgettes, tomatoes, mushrooms, cauliflower and more.

Juan has spent many years learning how to cook the staples of Spanish cookery, paellas included, and has lived and travelled throughout some of Spain’s culinary hotspots - San Sebastian and Valencia in particular.

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While his mum Carmen was a great cooking influence in his life, Juan took his craft seriously and graduated from the Escuela Valenciana de Arroces y Paella (under the tutelage of Chef Pepe Fortea) and went on to take classes at the London Paella School. It was here that he first met head-chef and owner, Xavi Merono.

In addition to the school, Xavi also ran the successful ‘Paella Shack’ brand across several locations in London.

He said: “With the arrival of Covid-19 the school and most of the catering work stopped completely. It was then that I took Paella Shack to the Beaconsfield Market where I have built up a loyal customer base. "People have not only flocked to his stall regularly since the spring but have also taken advantage of his Tuesday deliveries in that area.

“I have also run paella and Spanish food events at pubs local to where I live in Wooburn Green and I will be serving up at the Bourne End Community, Food & Craft Market from December.”

Along with his Beaconsfield Tuesdays, Juan is currently offering a home delivery service at weekends, and he also caters for weddings, parties and corporate events with massive paella pans serving large groups. His new business will have much more flexibility from the New Year meaning more of us will be able to try his delicious fare.

Pricing is different depending on whether customers order takeaway portions or a pan delivery as I had.

You can follow his Valencia Supper Club on Facebook for updates or call him on 07796 857662 for more information or to order.