Trophy Journeys from London to Mexico

By agringoinmexico on August 17th, 2016

2015 award for ‘Tastiest Breakfast in the World’ finds its way home to the Valle de Guadalupe.

Dona Esthela and friends with the Trophy
Doña Esthela accepts the ExtremeFoodies award for 2015’s ‘Tastiest Breakfast in the World.’/ Photo: Cintia Soto

Almost every story ever told about Baja California is based on a journey. In the Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico’s main wine producing region, the journey begins with the wine; from vine to bottle. The trip continues with stories of winemakers who have found their way to the Valle from Ensenada, Mexico, the U.S., Europe and around the globe.

These journeys are often fraught with drought, fire and other hardships in Baja California's rustic, hardscrabble environment, but usually end with a gathering of friends, conviviality and the sharing of good wine over a great meal.

Dona Esthela and her staff
Doña Esthela and her staff in the kitchen. / Photo: Cintia Soto

When ExtremeFoodies conferred the “Tastiest Breakfast in the World” award to Valle de Guadalupe restaurant La Cocina de Doña Esthela last May, Esthela’s trophy made a journey of its own — from its initial presentation in London to Esthela’s restaurant in Mexico, just over a year later. And that journey also ended with a gathering of friends, conviviality and the sharing of good wine over a great meal.

The trophy was accepted last year on behalf of Doña Esthela by food writer Nicholas Gilman of ExtremeFoodies and at the global ExtremeFoodies awards ceremony in London. It was subsequently stored deep in the Mofilm offices, eventually unearthed, and has finally found its way home to Esthela at her rustic, humble, yet charming country restaurant in Mexico.

ExtremeFoodies Trophy, Tastiest Breakfast 2015
The award at home in the Valle de Guadalupe. / Photo: Cintia Soto

As ExtremeFoodies curator for the Valle de Guadalupe, I had the honor of presenting the trophy to Doña Esthela. Fernando Gaxiola, owner of Baja Wine + Food and one of the largest importers of Baja wines, arranged for a cadre of U.S.-based journalists, bloggers and photographers to join us for the presentation, and Esthela promised a large Sinaloan-style breakfast for all.

“She’s making chilorio,” Fernando, a fellow Sinaloan, giddily confided during the drive south from San Diego. “It’s my favorite dish from the region.”

Dona Esthela and Chilorio
Chilorio. / Photo: Cintia Soto

In addition to chilorio (shredded pork in chiles), when we arrived, Esthela and her kitchen staff were busily preparing borrego tatemado (shredded wood-roasted lamb), nopales (shredded cactus paddles) and eggs, and her award-winning machaca (spiced, dried and fried beef) and eggs. Fernando had thoughtfully selected a couple of good Ensenada wines from his own cellar to help us wash down the hearty and delicious feast.

Breakfast at La Cocina de Doña Esthela
Breakfast at La Cocina de Doña Esthela. / Photo: Cintia Soto

After breakfast, we presented the award to a glowing Esthela, who was surrounded by her family and staff. They had all gathered to celebrate the cocinera, her accomplishments and her food, which by now has achieved a reputation of mythological proportions. Their pride swelled and filled the room as she accepted the trophy and abrazos were exchanged. Congratulations to Esthela and well deserved – ¡Enhorabuena!

Doña Esthela with the ExtremeFoodies award

La Cocina de Doña Esthela is located at Rancho san Marcos el Porvenir. From Highway 1 heading north, turn right on the dirt road where signs point to Hacienda la Lomita. Contact: +52 646 156 8453.

Meet the author

Valle de Guadalupe

W. Scott Koenig (aka El Gringo) has traveled extensively around Mexico since the mid-’90s. His blog,, reports on Mexican destinations, culture, events and cuisine. He also blogs for and has been published in the Baja Times (Baja’s largest English language newspaper), Destino magazine in Los Cabos, and the Oaxaca Times. In 2013, he was invited as a guest of the Mexican government to attend and report on the Interna…... More