Chef Ken Gluckman

In The Kitchen: Ken Gluckman

Ken Gluckman​ has run paella-party.com for 16 years, splitting his time between Southwest Florida and metro Chicago. He started out providing food services to NASCAR, and today specializes in authentic Spanish paella and French crêpes for events. Gluckman lives in Naples with his wife, Peggy. For more information, visit paella-party.com, email sales@paella-party.com or call (239) 248-3500​.

Inspirations: ​Other chefs with a love of their cuisines.

Favorite cuisine to eat: French​.

Favorite dish from your childhood: Macaroni and meatballs. My mother refuses to give me the recipe. I think I’ve mastered it, but I would only make it for my brother and sisters.​

What was the first dish you mastered?​ ​Philadelphia cheesesteak and chopped liver (family recipe)

Celebrity (living or dead) you’d love to have dinner with:​ Michelangelo

If I weren’t in this business, I’d be…: Retired​

Things you can’t get through the day without; My coffee and a kiss from my wife, not necessarily in that order.​

Favorite quick meal:​ Kitchen sink soup​

Cooking gods:​ Bobby Flay and Julia Child​

If you had your own cooking show, what would you call it?​ Disaster Averted​

Guilty food pleasure:​ Johns Pizza, Bleeker St., NYC​

Food aversion you can’t get over​: Pineapple meatballs.​

Favorite dish on your menu (and why?): Seafood paella (mixta). The combination of traditional Valencia paella with fresh seafood infuses the saffron rice with a wonderful mixture of flavors and textures.​

What was your biggest cooking disaster?​ The first time I used my 5-foot diameter paella pan. We couldn’t get the temperature right using wood. This was a huge party. So we had to use four smaller pans to serve the 500 guests. Only a half-hour delay, but five years off my life.​

Favorite SWFL restaurant other than your own:​ Bleu Provence, Naples

What would be your last meal?​ Pizza and ice cream.​

Oddest/most interesting thing in your home fridge right now:​ Octopus​

What are your plans for dinner tonight?​ Fresh seafood with garden vegetables​

Dream vacation: Three weeks driving through Europe and stopping to dine in small restaurants along the way. No reservations.​

Oddest thing you’ve eaten (and did you enjoy it?): ​Deep-fried tripe. No, I did not enjoy it.

Where were you born? New York​

Culinary training: ​Trained with chefs in specialties both in France and Spain.

Former gigs: NASCAR, Katrina relief, restaurant owner, fine dining management.​

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