Our History

The History of Paella Pan™ & Espana

Aaron Kirkland was fortunate enough to receive a contract to play Rugby League in the South of France, this was back in 1996. Aaron was living in Perpignan on the border of Spain and was soon consumed by the French and Spanish culture during the eight seasons he was based there. However, after six years he started wondering about life after sport and his return home to NZ.

Aaron was living in a small Village when he got to know Senor Joan Collado who owned a Butcher/Delicatessen. Joan had worked as a Chef all over France in some of the best restaurants. Aaron can still remember the day he walked up to his shop with the idea to take the cuisine back to New Zealand. Aaron was direct and asked if he would teach him in return for help in the shop. So the deal was done and Aaron became the kitchen hand and spent two years with Joan learning his skills.

Only a month after Aaron arrived home he made contact with the French Market “la Cigale” and asked if he could cook Mediterranean food. La Cigale were very enthusiastic, so the journey had begun.

The business had the name Petite Mediterranean in the beginning but was soon changed to Paella Pan as Paella was the main draw card for our new customers. So every year the orders have increased and the workload has grown with a lot of effort doing the markets, festivals, school galas then private functions, corporate events and weddings over the last 10 years.


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