Paella king Gerard Nebesky of Freestone emerged victorious Wednesday night in his cook-off with celebrity chef Bobby Flay in a ?Throwdown with Bobby Flay? on the Food Network.

During the half-hour show that aired at 9 p.m., Nebesky was shown driving his car, diving for his own fish and cooking up paella at Stinson Beach.

The episode heated up when Flay suddenly showed up in San Francisco while Nebesky was giving a cooking class. Flay challenged the chef to a surprise paella cook-off, with hundreds of spectators gathered around.

After tasting Nebesky?s and Flay?s paellas, the judging panel ? including Spanish chef Daniel Oliveira of B-44 in San Francisco ? declared Nebesky the winner, praising the caramelized crust of his rice, known as the ?socarrat? in Spain.

Flay?s paella lost points for being overly spicy. Nebesky concurred with the judges.

?Honestly, I thought it was really good, but it was really spicy,? Nebesky said. ?He overpeppered the chicken.?

Nebesky watched the show Wednesday evening at Bistro des Copains restaurant in Occidental while cooking paellas for a gathering of about 150 family, friends and fans. His mother, Rosemary Nebesky of Carson City, Nev., came to cheer him on.

The bon vivant came across well on the TV show, telegraphing his love of cooking with enthusiasm and natural charm.

?I?m really comfortable in that arena, because I like meeting new people and sharing stories,? he said. ?So that part I really enjoyed.?

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