fbpx Skip to main content

THE TEAM

Welcome to The Paella Club, where our doors swing wide open to embrace you into our vibrant family! Step inside and let us introduce ourselves, not just through words but through glimpses of our past captured in childhood photos. As you journey through our introductions, you’ll uncover the stories and memories that shape us and get really the chance to know all our staff – welcome our extended family!

Founder and CEO

ALEX BETOLAZA

Alex Betolaza is the personification of the story behind The Paella Club. He was born in the Basque Country (País Vasco), a region that is known...

Alex Betolaza is the personification of the story behind The Paella Club. He was born in the Basque Country (País Vasco), a region that is known for its culinary highlights, both reflected in the world famous pintxos (“toothpick-tapas”) and the multitude of Michelin star restaurants.

An unknown fact to many people: Basque Country is the only region in Spain where men take place behind the stove as part of their cultural heritage. There are even private cooking clubs where all members are male, where are called txokos.

Alex remained true to his roots during his life journey which lead him to London, Los Angeles and Miami, where he worked in various trendy restaurants. While abroad, Alex noticed an reoccurring phenomena: as soon as people heard he was from Spain, they asked him about the secrets of a great paella. This is where the idea first began.

Alex began to develop an idea of creating a space in Los Angeles that could reflect and share the beauty of Spanish cuisine and culture. Not a cooking school, nor a restaurant. Instead, he aspired to provide individuals with a true gastronomic experience where they could discover fresh ingredients, take part in interactive cooking, and have a shared dining experience in a breathtaking environment.

Returning back to his Spanish roots, Alex moved to Barcelona, where he used his background and knowledge, or shall we say the “ingredients” LA and Miami, his interest in the paella, and his knowledge of fresh produce to stir-up what is now The Paella Club.

Chief Operating Officer

MARINA SOLÍS

Meet our Chief Operations Officer, Marina. With her strategic acumen, she orchestrates seamless operations at our vibrant hub nestled in the heart of Barcelona.

Meet our Chief Operations Officer, Marina. With her strategic acumen, she oversees seamless operations at our vibrant hub nestled in the heart of Barcelona. Here, travelers from around the globe converge to celebrate their shared passions for food, music, and wine, embarking on an exhilarating journey through Spanish cuisine.

Born and raised in Panama, a country renowned for its Panama Canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Marina is well-versed in forging connections with people worldwide. Panama's rich culinary landscape, influenced by diverse global flavors and her Spanish heritage, sparked Marina's deep interest in food as a cultural bridge.

Marina holds a degree in Mass Media Communications and has earned dual master’s degrees in Advertising Strategy and Creativity, and Digital Advertising from Barcelona. She joined the venture early on, working alongside Alex, driven by her dual passions for food and communication.

Since the day she signed on to this project, Marina has played a pivotal role in our growth. As Chief Operations Officer, she is now the driving force behind our mission to share the love for Spanish cuisine and culture with travelers from every corner of the globe.

Executive Chef

LUCÍA ZANCHI

Lucia Zanchi was raised in England, but her parents are from Argentina. The unique blend of cultures...

Lucia Zanchi was raised in England, but her parents are from Argentina. The unique blend of cultures shaping Lucia has generated in her a profound understanding of how food serves as a powerful force for bringing people together. Food shows us that cultural differences shouldn't be viewed as barriers, but rather as opportunities for connection and enrichment.

Her journey of culinary discovery began at a tender age, as she fondly recalls the joy of cooking alongside her grandmother. Cooking made her happy ever since she can remember, that’s why when she had to choose what to study she had no doubts to enrol at international culinary arts. Following passions always leads to purpose and Lucia would like people to realize through food why they are who they are.

Her capabilities and determination brought her to work with many important chefs like Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey and to work for the Royal Family. However, after getting her degree Lucia felt the urge to leave for an adventure, so she moved to Barcelona. She had been many times on holiday to this city and each time she fell in love with it more. At The Paella Club Lucia's mission extends beyond culinary instruction: she looks after her team while imparting her contagious passion for culinary arts to guests. With an eye toward the future, she dreams to expand the business, driven by her pursuit of culinary excellence and her desire to spread her culinary philosophy far and wide.

Chef

FERNANDO DIPASQUALE

Fernando was born in Argentina and his passion for cooking finds its roots in his home country, specifically...

Fernando was born in Argentina and his passion for cooking finds its roots in his home country, specifically at his grandmother's house. When he was little, he used to enjoy looking at his grandmother and be amazed by her capability to convert simple ingredients into elaborate dishes.

Despite initially pursuing a career in business administration, Fernando realized his true passion lays in the artistic world of cooking, where he can infuse his creations with love and personal flair. After three years of culinary studies, he embarked on a career as chef in Buenos Aires. He strongly believes that cooking can transfer love and make people happy.

He moved to Canary Island to reunite with his family that left Argentina because of the economic, social and political situation of the country. However, Fernando used to live in a metropolis, so he decided to look for a more vibrant city and moved to Barcelona with a strong desire to start again from scratches. There he worked for 10 years in various kitchens of Barcelona giving cooking classes.

One of his best friends told him that The Paella Club was looking for chefs and he encouraged him to send his resume wanting the best for him. Alex went to see one of his cooking classes and said, 'Fernando, you're coming with me!' and so it was. Fernando cherishes the contributions of each person in the club, valuing the exchange of stories and learning from each one he encounters. For him cooking is more than just preparing food; it's a means of transferring passion and knowledge. He aims to create an interactive and energetic environment at The Paella Club, where guests feel at home and leave with unforgettable memories. He loves to be the bridge among good food, good energy, and good vibes.

Chef

BAUTISTA A. ROMIEU

Bautista Romieu was born in Buenos Aires, and ever since he can remember, he was cooking. He started when...

Bautista Romieu was born in Buenos Aires, and ever since he can remember, he was cooking. He started when he was a little child since he was raised by his mum that used to work until late at night. When he was ten years old, he accidentally set his kitchen on fire. Nothing serious happened, just a little explosion and some smoke, but as all the great artists in the world his passion started from a strange event.

As he grew up he started a university career until he realized it wasn't what he liked, so he switched to culinary arts. Right after Covid he had the opportunity to open a Spanish tapas restaurant in Buenos Aires. After a year and a half, however, he broke his shinbone playing soccer and that episode made Bautista reconsider his entire life.

He started from scratch: he broke up with his long-term girlfriend and moved to Costa Rica where he became a chef, but he soon got tired of the country because of its rainy and dry seasons. So he decided to move to Europe and started living in Madrid. However, after coming to visit his brother in Barcelona he was offered a job as head chef of a Catalan restaurant. After two years he decided to change and entered The Paella Club. He loves being able to demonstrate his passion for cooking and share his skills and love for culinary art.

Chef

ROCIO CHAHLE

Rocio Chahle was born in Argentina in a small town called Salta and she shaped her path to Barcelona following her dreams...

Rocio Chahle was born in Argentina in a small town called Salta and she shaped her path to Barcelona following her dreams. Her family was originally from Syria a country in which cooking is a form of showing appreciation and gratitude towards others. So, ever since she was a little child, cooking was a key element of Rocio’s life and step by step she managed to transform her passion into a proper work.

It wasn’t an easy choice as she switched her career since she had a degree in journalism and in graphic design. However, after 6 years working in the communication field, she understood she liked it, but she wasn’t passionate about it. Gaining this awareness was a turning point in her life, she realised food was her biggest passion and moved to Buenos Aires to get a degree in culinary art. While studying there she was offered an internship in a three-star Michelin restaurant in San Sebastian. She stayed there for two years and then moved to Madrid before heading to Barcelona.

For her The Paella Club is a big family in which staff and guests have fun together sharing the same passions: cooking, eating, music and drinking. You’ll let yourself be surprised by her passion that is the perfect unifying element among different flavours and you’ll get to know people from all around the world understanding that at the end strangers are just friends that haven’t had the possibility to introduce each other yet.

Chef

KEVIN KOLENC

At seventeen years old Kevin Kolenc, who was born in Trieste (Italy), felt the urge to make changes in his life, so...

At seventeen years old Kevin Kolenc, who was born in Trieste (Italy), felt the urge to make changes in his life, so he decided to become an entertainer in Venice. There he discovered the world of dance and acting, and he fell immediately in love with it. At nineteen years old he moved to Fuerteventura working in hotels as an entertainment manager. Cooking has always fascinated Kevin, as well as any work that requires an artistic input; for him putting your heart into what you do and shaping your work with your own personality is the most beautiful thing someone can do.

He entered The Paella Club for a series of coincidences that someone might call destiny: while he was performing a show in Fuerteventura, the staff of The Paella Club was on a team-building holiday in the same hotel. They saw him on stage, and once the show was over, he was invited to their table where Alex offered him a position on their team. He told him 'I always try to turn chefs into showmen, but with you, I want to take a showman and turn him into a chef'. Once his commitments with the hotel chain were fulfilled, he decided to join the staff of this cooking school.

This job allows Kevin to stay connected with people and immerse himself in a totally new world that he has always enjoyed. His mission is to bring an extra pinch of energy and vitality in order for people to leave with a smile, feeling at home and recharged by the experience.

Chef

CIARA DALY

Ciara Daly was born in Meath, in the midlands of Ireland, and grew up on a farm in the countryside. Inspired by her origins she...

Ciara Daly was born in Meath, in the midlands of Ireland, and grew up on a farm in the countryside. Inspired by her origins she seeks to bring to Barcelona the freshness and naturality of a farm-to-table experience. Using locally sourced ingredients, she will make you savour the simple pleasures of fresh-picked products that will nourish not only your body, but also your soul allowing you to notice the small pretty details of life.

She studied food product development and became a food scientist in Ireland, but a few holiday trips to Barcelona were enough to make Ciara fall in love with this vibrant city, its seaside and its weather. After taking a paella-making class she decided that teaching people something she loves doing was what she was really meant for. So, she quit her job in Ireland, learnt Spanish and moved here to make you enjoy the passion for cuisine she inherited from her family.

She deeply believes food can join people together and she aims to teach guests something they didn’t know before in order to sharp their culinary skills and make people more confident in the kitchen. With her help the cooking area will become your blank canvas to paint on, giving free rein to your creativity.

Kitchen Assistant

CHRISTIAN PRIETO

Christian Prieto arrived in Barcelona eight years ago, in 2016. He was originally from Maracaibo, in Venezuela, but...

Christian Prieto arrived in Barcelona eight years ago, in 2016. He was originally from Maracaibo, in Venezuela, but due to the situation the country was facing he chose to immigrate to Spain because he liked the culture and he spoke Spanish. In Barcelona he met Lucia, his partner; she is a chef working in The Paella Club, and from her, he learned a lot about cuisine and his passion for cooking was born.

He started to work in restaurants and customer service business, and he always enjoyed connecting with people, helping whenever he could, and learn everyday something new. His mission at The Paella Club is to ensure that people have a good time, serve cava, help costumers and play music, being the DJ of the club.

Coming from a Caribbean country, music has always been a key element of Christian’s life. Back in Venezuela you can hear Latin music wherever you go, people love dancing and having a great time all together. Music is a universal language that can speak to everyone, that’s why it plays an essential role in the workshop as, together with food, is a shared passion that can immediately bond people together. At The Paella Club Christian discovered that cooking, as well as music, is a form of art: it inspires you and brings out your emotions in a creative form.

Kitchen Assistant

MIREIA PUNSA

Mireia Punsa Garcia – known in The Paella Club as Mimi – was born and raised in Barcelona, specifically...

Mireia Punsa Garcia – known in The Paella Club as Mimi – was born and raised in Barcelona, specifically in the Raval neighbourhood, the vibrant heart of the city. Since she was a child, she has always had a strong connection with cooking: her mother was a personal chef and everyone in her household loved to be in the kitchen.

She has been involved in the hospitality business since she was 16. She lived in different cities spending about ten years away from Barcelona and she ended up by chance to The Paella Club while she was looking for a change that could further fuel her passion for cooking. She immediately found the concept very interesting: it was much more than a simple lesson; it was an immersive hands-on shared cooking experience to enjoy Spanish culture while having fun and creating new connections.

Her mission here is to try to make things easier for everyone by doing behind-the-scenes tasks to ensure everything runs smoothly. Coming here is completely different from going out to eat paella elsewhere. Here, people come to engage themselves in an activity and exit the venue with a smile on their faces, this is the greatest reward. She gets along very well with the team as they all put energy and passion in whatever they do and, as Mimi strongly believes, when you put enthusiasm into things is always reflected.

Kitchen Assistant

MELVIN ARDÓN

Melvin comes from Tegucigalpa capital in Honduras. He moved to Barcelona in 2018 to reunite with his family and to...

Melvin comes from Tegucigalpa capital in Honduras. He moved to Barcelona in 2018 to reunite with his family and to seek for new opportunities to improve his life and create a better future.

He has always been passionate about food, when he was a child his mother used to tell him "You must learn to cook because I won't always be around". So, little by little, he began to enjoy trying out new recipes while starting to cook for himself and for others.

According to Melvin cooking is part of everyone’s life, but it depends on you if you want to incorporate it into your passions. For him cooking can bring happiness, he always imagines how what he is preparing will turn out and if people will enjoy it. It gives him satisfaction when he ask people if they liked his dishes and they answer they were delicious and wonder if he could teach how to make them.

Sharing one’s passion is the greatest thing ever and Melvin loves it. His mission at The Paella Club is to help people who come in any way he can. He wants to keep learning and working on his culinary abilities in order one day to be able to teach a class himself. Melvin reveals he studied to become a math teacher, but life is like that... you start with something and end up doing something else. What matters is the journey that you do meanwhile: it’s a path that helps you to better understand yourself and what you're passionate about.

Kitchen Assistant

MAYRA ALEJANDRA FAJARDO GUZMAN

Mayra Alejandra Fajardo Guzmán was born in Bogotá in Colombia and came to Spain with her son two years ago mainly to...

c rejoin her mother that had been living here for five years. Cooking has always been a passion in her family, however, this is Mayra first job in the culinary sector as back in Colombia she used to work as a preschool teacher. Working with children allowed her to develop the capability to wonder and notice even the smallest beautiful thing we are surrounded by. Creating dishes with simple ingredients is an art that has always fascinated Mayra.

In The Paella Club she strives to provide the best customer service and the finest products to ensure people enjoy their experience and feel like at home. The cooking workshops are dynamic, non-traditional moment shared with people you don't know but who will end up becoming your friends.

Mayra always believed in seizing the moment, living day by day, and in Barcelona she has realized how simply walking down the street can reveal beautiful details. In The Paella club she found a shared set of values centred around the idea of enjoying the present moment. It is beautiful to allow ourselves to be surprised by the landscapes, flavours, and encounters that life unexpectedly presents us with.

JOIN THE FAM

We believe in the power of human connection. Do you?

OUR PHILOSOPHY

We’ve all been there. You travel to a new place and you want to learn more about the regional culture, cuisine, and history. You excitedly seek out a new class only to be deeply disappointed by the egoistic flair of the experience. Here at The Paella Cub, we engage with our friends, sharing laughter over a warm stove and might even stop to take a picture with you along the way. We take pride in our expertise, but we not cost of our visitors. Although our Executive Chef has experience working at a number of Michelin Star restaurants, we maintain an approachable and engaging atmosphere. Just consider us a few friends here to guide you through your own culinary journey.

Conscious Culinary Exploration:  Social Responsibility
We operate under the principles of the slow food movement and we strive to provide the highest quality experience by sourcing our goods from local actors in order to help preserve and share Spanish culture and tradition, all the while maintaining a environmentally conscious approach.  We believe in the importance of using locally sourced ingredients in order to provide a farm-to-table experience that celebrates the not only the local culture and environment but most importantly the people involved.

This mindset of the Slow movement not only manifests itself in our kitchen but has extended into our interior design and company structure. We have constructed The Paella Club using a variety of refurbished items in order to create a space of gastronomic education that links tradition with modernity, resulting in a space of urban design, refurbished materials, and a truly sophisticated ambiance. We strive to minimize any food waste by donating any leftover goods to neighborhood food pantries and in-need populations, and regularly partner with local NGOs to host fundraising events.

The TPC Foundation

A Dream of Sharing