Esthela Bueno wakes up every day at 3 in the morning and goes to her clay oven to cook one of the most popular dishes in her restaurant: "borrego tatemado" (shredded wood-roasted lamb). One of the advantages of living in her workplace is that she can have absolute control over her kitchen—from the ingredients that she produces to the dairy products (cows are grazing outside) to the complicated recipes, such as the lamb that is currently simmering in her backyard.
At this early hour, surrounded by the silence of Valle de Guadalupe in the Northeast of Mexico, she has a lot to do: milk the cows, make a delicious fresh cheese, bake (sweet bread), get fresh eggs from the pen to prepare the dried meat. Everything needs to be ready by 8 in the morning, because the hordes of hungry people arrive from every corner of the state, country, and even the US—and they're usually very punctual.
How successful? Last year she won the award for "Best Breakfast in the World," according to FoodieHub, and international culinary guide that takes into account the opinions of travelers and foodies from all over the world. Esthela's machaca con huevo (dried meat with eggs) was distinguished among 4,000 nominations in 150 cities.
The only ingredient used to season this—the best breakfast dish on earth—is grain salt, and it's paired with simple, well-seasoned refried beans and tortillas made by hand in her household's .
Doña Esthela arrived to Valle de Guadalupe in 2010. When she left Sinaloa, she just took one phone number with her: someone that helped her find a job doing laundry and ironing clothes. However, her ways in the kitchen soon stood out. First she was in charge of a burrito stand, then she worked as a catering manager for a called Cuando me enamoro. Finally, she founded her own restaurant, a place that is now famous on both sides of the border.
The that she puts in the oven at dawn every day is usually ready by breakfast time. The ideal way to eat it is in tacos over a hot tortilla, with some beans and a spoonful of consommé made out of the same lamb. It's a secret recipe, but it's known that Esthela uses at least five chilies to prepare this national treasure.
The oven is Esthela's best friend. She uses it to grill the chilies used in her magnificent salsas, to bake the bread, and to simmer the lamb. In the future we'll probably see a commemorative plaque placed in this oven from a thankful nation.
This story originally appeared on MUNCHIES MX in September 2016.