How To Make Paulina Lopez's Perfect Huevos Estrellados (Oaxacan Fried – HexClad Cookware

How To Make Paulina Lopez's Perfect Huevos Estrellados (Oaxacan Fried Eggs)

by HexClad Cookware

How To Make Paulina Lopez's Perfect Huevos Estrellados (Oaxacan Fried Eggs)

Some of Paulina Lopez’s first memories were helping her dad out at the mezcal shop he ran in Oaxaca, Mexico. So it was perhaps only a matter of time before she followed him into the business he later built in Los Angeles. Today, she runs Guelaguetza, the Oaxacan restaurant he opened in 1994. “After the huge economic recession in Mexico 31 years ago, my dad lost everything. So, he decided to move to LA where he already had two sisters. He started seeing the amount of Oaxaqueños that were here in LA, and he got the idea of selling food products like mole, chocolate, quesillo, pan, and meat.” It was there that the family business got its start. Lopez and her siblings would go to the mercados on the weekend, buy the things for her dad, and ship it to Tijuana, just over the border from the US. Her dad sold the food from door to door, and eventually decided to open a restaurant. Eventually, the rest of the family joined Lopez’s father in LA. They arrived with backpacks stuffed with Oaxacan staples, Lopez says, like tlayudas, quetzales, and mezcal. “We had no luggage,” she says, “but we had food. That was the start of our story and we kept working with my dad.” Eventually, the business fell on hard times, and around 2012, Lopez, her brother, and her sister decided to buy the business from her father. Ten years on, they are thriving. Lopez runs the restaurant’s operations, overseeing 110 employees, while her brother is focused on their michelada brand, I Love Micheladas, and her sister works on the brand’s books, like their 2019 cookbook Oaxaca: Home Cooking from the Heart of Mexico.


It would be easy to assume that it’s always been straightforward for Lopez, given the thriving business today, but Lopez has grown and changed with the brand. “After the pandemic, I was in a really big depression,” she said, “And I was like, ‘What am I doing with my life? What am I without the business? Without the restaurant? What’s my identity?’” She ended up at a Stanford-run Latino-focused leadership course, which gave her the resources to invest in her education and in the business. Last summer, she was ready to push herself again, feeling like this was the year she was ready to really challenge herself. She was accepted into The James Beard Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership program (WEL), a 10-week advanced educational, training, and networking program for women and non-binary entrepreneurs in the food and beverage industry.

After years in a male-dominated industry, the James Beard Foundation Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (WEL) program environment was a balm for Lopez. “When [my siblings and I] took over 10 years ago,” Lopez says, “my dad being a very strong male and there’s this macho Mexican culture with a lot of the cooks who come from small towns, and my dad just leaves his two daughters in their late twenties. And you know, we came there to try to be bosses, but it was really hard, the men did not like it. We had to learn the hard way.” At the James Beard Foundation Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (WEL) program, Lopez realized she wasn’t the only one going through hardships or who had insecurities. She left with the readiness to “step into her own power” and a group chat, too. “Everyday there’s a question like, ‘Have you guys tried this?’ and we’re breaking those stereotypes that women are always fighting or catty. Everyone’s so willing to share, so willing to help each other, so willing to collaborate.” Heading into this year, Lopez is ready to be the leader she wants to be, and set an example for her own children who may one day do as she did, and follow in their parent’s footsteps.

Lopez’s HexClad Pick: 8" Hybrid Fry Pan

“I’m always looking for the perfect pan for my fried eggs because Oaxacan eggs are very specific and you need the right pan to make them. So first of all, it’s all about the temperature of the oil, right? It’s called huevos estrellados. We don’t have sunny side up or all those terms. It’s one type of egg. So I put the oil in the pan, two tablespoons or so, then, my mom showed me this: I get a piece of tortilla and I dip it to see if the bubbles are already around the tortilla, then I’m like, okay it’s ready. You fry that little piece of tortilla, put it on the side, and then I grab my egg and put it in the middle of the pan. You don’t touch it, you let it bubble. Move the pan a little bit so the white starts spreading and then you leave it until it gets brown on the edges. Then, take the spatula, turn the egg over, and turn off the stove. I put salt and pepper on it, then I leave it for 10 seconds, pick it up, put it on the plate, and it’s perfectly brown, perfectly crisp. And then you pop that yolk and it’s perfect. I just need some frijoles, some salsa, some tortillas, avocado, and I’m a happy girl. That’s my perfect breakfast.”

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