Chef Iliana de la Vega is a Mexican-born chef, who has dedicated her professional life to the study and dissemination of the Mexican gastronomy. She is an educator, a restaurateur, and culinary consultant. She also works with different communities of rare chiles on Oaxaca.
Chef de la Vega has spoken at various forums, symposiums and universities both in the United States and abroad. As a consultant, she creates menus and training programs for universities, restaurants and hotels. She has also worked and trained chefs through travel programs around different parts of Mexico, as well as developing recipes for large manufacturers.
From 2007 to 2012, Chef de la Vega served as the Mexican/Latin Cuisines Specialist for The Culinary Institute of America (CIA). At the CIA, she conducted research, developed curricula, and taught undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education courses on Mexican and other Latin cuisines. She also created and launched the Latin Cuisines Certificate Program.
Before joining The CIA, Chef de la Vega won worldwide acclaim for her interpretation of Oaxacan cuisine at her restaurant and cooking school, El Naranjo, in Oaxaca, Mexico—a restaurant she ran with her husband, Ernesto Torrealba for over 10 years. El Naranjo in Oaxaca was a trend-setter and was featured in prestigious newspapers and magazines, such as The New York Times and Bon Appetit, among others.
In May 2012, Chef de la Vega opened El Naranjo Restaurant in Austin’s trendy Rainey St. district. El Naranjo has been recognized as the best Mexican restaurant in Austin and it is one of the top 10 best restaurants in the City. Before the brick and mortar restaurant, they owned El Naranjo Mobile and Catering, a successful food trailer that was called, “the only real Mexican restaurant in Texas” by The Texas Monthly.
For over two years, Chef de la Vega had a radio show: Platicando y Cocinando en Español, with the goal of supporting and improving the lifestyle and health of the Spanish-speaking population of Austin.
In 2014 The Mexican Government awarded Chef de la Vega the prestigious Ohtli award in recognition of her work in Mexican Gastronomy and with the Hispanic population. The Ohtli is the greatest award given by the Mexican Government to citizens living abroad.
Chef de la Vega is currently a consultant for Stanford University and has the honor to be the Texas delegate for the Conservatorio de la Cultura Gastronomica Mexicana. In 2015, she opened Mexican Culinary Traditions, a culinary travel company that takes small groups to various regions of Mexico.