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Chef’s Creations Celebrate Mexico

Chef Elena Reygadas explores Mexican history and culture through food.

A woman in an apron poses in front of a painting.

Maureen Evans

Elena Reygadas has been named the world’s best female chef.

Food isn’t just something that fills our bellies. A country’s cuisine can tell us a lot about its history and culture. Chef Elena Reygadas understands this well. In 2023, her commitment to showing off Mexico’s many flavors won her the World’s Best Female Chef award from the website World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Reygadas owns and runs four businesses in Mexico City, Mexico. There’s Rosetta Bakery, a casual restaurant called Lardo, and a bistro (a type of small restaurant) called Café Nin. Her most celebrated eatery is called Rosetta. There, she cooks with a mixture of Mexican ingredients that reflect Mexico’s past and present.

Some of these ingredients have been used for hundreds of years. They were eaten by Indigenous people long before the Spanish arrived in Mexico in the 1500s. Reygadas says she uses as many Mexican ingredients as she can in order to keep them alive and in use for as long as possible. From these and more modern ingredients, Reygadas has created a rich menu, including dishes like savoy cabbage tacos with pistachio pipián sauce, sweet potato ravioli with matcha, and corn tamales with smoked cream.

Reygadas tries to use ingredients that are naturally grown in each season. And that means her menu changes a lot. “It makes us sad because we became very attached to the ingredients, but that also allows us to continue our creativity and move into a new moment,” she told NBC News.

Reygadas says the climate crisis is changing the way we eat. As a chef, it’s hard not to be aware of this. “For example, last year we had very few wild mushrooms because rainfall was scarce due to climate change,” she told NBC News. “And that is very sad and serious.”

Food is connected to so many things. But Reygadas says her main goal is very simple. She wants her creations to make people feel good.

Six panel image of different food dishes.

Maureen Evans, Ana Lorenzana; Photo composite Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

A sampling of Chef Elena Reygadas’s creations.

Did You Know?

© Sebastian Duda/stock.adobe.com

Many foods eaten all over the world originated in what is now Mexico. People in this part of the world have prepared food with corn, avocados, and cocoa beans (which are used to make chocolate) for thousands of years.

Celebrating Hispanic and Latino Heritage

September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States. Let’s celebrate just a few Hispanic and Latino Americans who have had a major impact in their fields.

Minoso at bat

The Stanley Weston Archive/Getty Images

Minnie Miñoso was the first Black major league baseball star from Latin America. Born in Cuba in 1925, Miñoso came of age at a time when the sport of baseball was racially segregated in the United States. Players who weren’t white were not permitted to play in the major leagues. When he arrived in the U.S. in 1945, Miñoso played for the Negro Leagues. In 1949, after Jackie Robinson helped desegregate baseball, Miñoso became a major league ball player. Miñoso led the American League in stolen bases and triples three times, won three Gold Glove awards, and was a seven-time All-Star.

Mendez smiles as a medal is placed around her neck.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

In the 1940s, Sylvia Mendez was at the center of a court case about school segregation after she was not allowed to attend an all-white school in California. Her family’s 1946 victory in the case paved the way for the 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education, where the Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional. Today, Sylvia Mendez is a civil rights activist who educates others about her legal case.

Alvarez poses outdoors in coat, hat, and sunglasses.

Jackson Leibach/University of Kansas, reproduced with permission by Robert DePalma

Along with his father, geologist Walter Alvarez developed the theory that, about 66 million years ago, an asteroid collided with Earth, causing a mass extinction that included the dinosaurs. Since the 1980s, when Alvarez advanced this theory, evidence to support it has grown.

Pam Muñoz Ryan (born 1951).

Portrait of smiling Ryan

Courtesy of Pam Muñoz Ryan

Pam Muñoz Ryan’s books for young readers often include elements from her Mexican-America background. Her 2000 novel, Esperanza Rising, is based on her Mexican grandmother’s experiences working at a labor camp in the 1930s. Muñoz Ryan is also the author of Echo, a 2015 Newbery Honor book about a magical harmonica that travels through time and forms a bond between three strangers.

Hispanic Heritage Month

Images of Hispanic and Latino figures and cultural traditions flash on and off the screen.

© Keith Dannemiller/Alamy, © Sundry Photography, Kobby Dagan//Shutterstock.com, © Carlos R, Julio/stock.adobe.com, © Jinlide/Dreamstime.com, Laurence Griffiths, Focus on Sport/Getty Images, Steve Petteway/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15. You can read about Hispanic and Latino Americans from all walks of life at Britannica School!

WORD OF THE DAY

gastronomy

PART OF SPEECH:

noun

Definition:

: the art or activity of cooking and eating fine food

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