Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Husband and wife team bring sunny Spanish flavours to the north-east

Mariesha and Steven Jaffray are the owners of Paella Escocia, a Spanish street food vendor operating at events throughout the north-east.
Mariesha and Steven Jaffray are the owners of Paella Escocia, a Spanish street food vendor operating at events throughout the north-east.

Who remembers being bored stiff with little to do during the height of the lockdowns? Steven Jaffray and his wife, Mariesha, both do.

But their entrepreneurial drive encouraged them both to make a go of their love for Spanish cuisine through creating their own street food business.

Paella pans at the ready.

Paella Escocia is a family affair with Steven and Mariesha’s two children, Megan and Innes, keen to lend a hand cooking and serving customers.

Traditional paella flavours using local and Spanish ingredients are at the heart of the street food vendor’s offerings, which have been wooing north-east crowds at outdoor events this year including Grampian Pride last month.

They also have a side branch to their business called Mither Tapas, which sees Steven and Mariesha offering different experiences through kitchen takeovers at restaurants and takeaway services.

Despite having never worked in hospitality before, the pair’s Spanish recipe for success is certainly working up a treat.

We talked to Steven to find out more about Paella Escocia…

‘Our goal is to be the best Spanish street food vendor in the north-east,’ Steven Jaffray.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I studied at Aberdeen University, I’ve always lived in the north-east and have run my own businesses before. I used to be involved in music and entertainment in the wedding and corporate events industry and I’ve also worked offshore. My wife has a PhD, so she’s a doctor (but not a medical doctor!). We’re currently based in Whiteford, north of Inverurie, and I’d say that there’s always been an entrepreneurial side to what we do to keep us busy.

Mariesha and Steven Jaffray.

Have you and your wife always had an interest in Spanish cuisine?

We love the culture and cuisine over in Spain. We’ve been on holiday many times before. The simplicity of tapas is amazing; it’s simple, basic ingredients cooked well and they speak for themselves. With the paella, there’s a restaurant in Inverness called La Tortilla, which is the longest standing tapas restaurant in Scotland. So, we befriended the owner of the restaurant and she taught us how to make paella and really mentored us. Through trial and error, we eventually got quite good at doing it!

What inspired you to come up with Paella Escocia?

Having ran and sold a few businesses before, we always fancied the idea of doing some street food – it was almost like a wannabe Masterchef kind of thing! Paella Escocia grew during lockdown. My wife was made redundant – she was working in oil and gas at the time – and I was furloughed. So, starting the business was mainly for her.

Paella Escocia’s outdoor food stall.

When did it all start and how much have you had to adapt on your journey to date?

We started cooking for some friends and family and they said that we should consider doing it commercially – that was enough for us to get things going. As we came out of Covid, we started doing farmers markets which got our name out and about. This led to us trying out some private catering, as well as more events including Deeside Motor School.

‘To be authentic, we do use Spanish ingredients which is important to us,’ Steven Jaffray.

We started off cooking at events with just one large pan, which we quickly realised we needed to get more of. Our largest pan is a metre in circumference and once it’s ready, we can sell it all in the space of 10 minutes. We’ve expanded our equipment and food offerings since we first started, but we still operate in a standard size catering gazebo, which most events only have the space to offer.

What are Paella Escocia’s biggest sellers?

Chicken and chorizo paella is our number one seller. After that, it would be our seafood paella and then our veggie and vegan options. We offer churros as well which are popular as a dessert and there’s also patatas bravas which are traditional Spanish style potatoes with our homemade bravas sauce and aioli.

Paella Escocia’s chicken and chorizo paella.

Our Spanish bacon rolls also go down very well. They’re made with our aioli, chorizo and rocket, which we often sell out of. There’s something for everyone on our menu. The seafood paella would be my favourite dish, if I had to pick one.

Paella Escocia’s Spanish bacon roll.

Do you source ingredients locally?

To be authentic, we do use Spanish ingredients which is important to us. We have to use proper paella rice and chorizo, but we use local suppliers for the seafood we cook with. The vegetables for our vegetarian and vegan paella are also sourced locally. I grow my own organic garlic, which I’ve done for years, so we use that in our aioli and in our pans for cooking. We’ve also started growing green beans and other vegetables that we can use.

Paella Escocia’s churros.

Can you also tell us about Mither Tapas?

Throughout Covid, there were no events because of lockdown. So, we started trading from Durno Village Hall as a takeaway on Saturday nights and came up with the name Mither Tapas – a little play on words with the local landmarks around Aberdeenshire. We discovered that, to our knowledge, we were the only people in the north-east that were doing Spanish takeaway street food cuisine in the north-east.

It’s more of a takeaway setup as opposed to catering like Paella Escocia. But we’re also open to doing kitchen takeovers and Spanish nights in various venues. The difference with the Mither Tapas is that we can offer more than what we can on a street food setup as we have access to an indoor kitchen. If we won the lottery and had the financial resources to come in and run a restaurant, I think we’d call it Mither Tapas.

Any upcoming events you’re looking forward to?

Portsoy Boat Festival will be a big one for us from June 17 to 19. We’ll be doing Friday, Saturday and Sunday outside the concert tent that they have at the food fair. We’ll be using local seafood from Sutherland which we’ll be selling there. We’re really looking forward to it.

What are some of your main goals going forward?

Our goal is to be the best Spanish street food vendor in the north-east. There’s lots of pizza vendors or burger vendors, who are all really lovely to meet. But nobody does what we do. When we’re up and cooking, the smell, the steam and the attraction of the food encourages everyone to come over.

The reason we started it all was just to get out of the house during lockdown, so being able to do Spanish street food cooking that takes us to interesting places across the north-east is great.

Paella Escocia have a number of events booked up for the summer ahead. Visit their social media or website (www.paellaescocia.com) for more information.

www.instagram.com/paellaescocia

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]

Conversation

[[title_reg]]

Please enter the name you would like to appear on your comments. (It doesn’t have to be your real name - but nothing rude please, we are a polite bunch!) Use a combination of eight or more characters that includes an upper and lower case character, and a number.

By registering with [[site_name]] you agree to our Terms and Conditions and our Privacy Policy

Or sign up with

Facebook Google

[[content_reg_complete]]

[[title_login]]

Or login with

Forgotten your password? Reset it

[[title]]