Spanish-themed fundraiser to become annual event
by: Submitted photo Greg Higgins of Portland's Higgins Restaurant and Bar, center, and assistants put the finishing touches on the dinner’s main course.

HILLSDALE - The first-ever Hillsdale Paella Dinner brought a bit of Spain to Southwest Portland Sept. 10, netting $8,300 for its organizers, the Hillsdale Main Street Program, and another $2,500 for Neighborhood House.

About 270 guests turned out for the event, and a few had to be turned away at the door, Hillsdale Main Street's executive director Megan Braunsten said.

At the dinner, guests dined on paella, a traditional Valencian dish, which was made with saffron, shrimp, chicken, sausage and green vegetables in a five-foot-diameter pan. They also enjoyed fine wines, breads and desserts provided by Baker and Spice Bakery and a tent bedecked with Spanish-themed décor courtesy of local vendors, which included Multnomah Village's Indigo Traders.

Hillsdale Main Street board member and chef Ted Coonfield masterminded the dinner, with Greg Higgins of Portland's Higgins Restaurant and Bar taking charge of the paella pan and additional assistance from Chris Biard of Sonoma, Calif.'s, Auberge du Soleil.

Laura Onizuka of Portland Flamenco Events and live musicians also entertained crowds with traditional Spanish song and dance.

Braunsten said the Hillsdale Main Street Program plans to make the paella dinner an annual event, and it is already searching for volunteers for its planning committee. For more information, contact Braunsten at [email protected]

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