Stan. The Man with the Pan.

Stan Halverson is passionate about paella. And it all started with the San Francisco 49ers. Stan and his dad, along with the other fathers and sons in their neighborhood, were season ticket-holders back in the 1980s. Each of them took turns providing the food for their tailgate parties, and soon it was getting as competitive in the parking lot as it was on the field. Burgers and hot dogs made way for Prime Rib, Stuffed Pork Loin, Pasta Primavera, Ciopinno, and on and on. (But not Paella. Not yet…) Stan kept cooking, winning the Northern California CASI Chili Cook-off and creating meals for family and wider circles of friends. But he never considered it as a profession until 2008. Unhappy with his job in the mortgage business, and encouraged by his loving, selfless wife, Seré (who happens to be writing this), he attended Bauman College: Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts School.

Still looking for something more.

He then worked with several high-end caterers, ever so carefully placing a caper atop a salmon egg atop a scallop atop micro greens—with a pair of tweezers, in the back of a hot tent—and never actually able to witness anyone enjoying the fruits of his labors.

Now we’re cooking.

That is, until he got his first paella gig. Outdoors, overlooking a vineyard, creating the perfect blend of enticing flavors to all the ooohs and ahhs—and yes, yays!—he remembered how he first fell in love with cooking and why. Paella captured some of the fun of those first tailgate parties, but on a bigger (and slightly more dressed up) scale. “Paella is undeniably delicious,” Stan says. “But it’s also a celebration, a form of entertainment and a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach—all in one pan (albeit a very, very large pan.) The crowd gathers around and watches while I cook. People ask questions. They want their pictures taken. It’s a lot of fun. And that’s all even before I serve it!”

Niiice riiice.

He was seriously hooked. He began working for a paella catering company, creating beautiful and mouth-watering paellas for weddings and wineries, corporate events and private parties. Eventually, Stan became General Manager, and Paella Chef Numero Dos.

Yay!

Six years later, he broke out on his own to create Yay!Paella, and became Paella Chef Numero Uno—along with General Manager, CEO, CFO, and Chief Dishwasher. His passion for paella is contagious. “It’s so much more than a job for me. I absolutely love preparing and sharing this amazing meal. Even though my mom swears I’m Norwegian and Swedish, I’m sure I must have some Spanish blood in me. I was made to cook Paella.”

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