Iliana de la Vega is a Mexican-born chef, restaurateur and culinary consultant who have been studying Mexican cuisine and culture for more than 25 years. Her culinary speciality lies with Mexican chiles, from its production, supporting small producers, to teaching the culinary techniques that bring the intricate flavors of chiles to a wide variety of dishes.
Iliana presents in different forums, symposiums and universities in the US and abroad. As a consultant she creates menus and training to restaurants and hotels, as well as work with companies in different capacities, such as travel with chefs to different parts of Mexico in custom programs, or developing recipes for large manufacturers.
From 2007 to 2012 Iliana 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 while creating and launching the Latin Cuisines Certificate Program.
Before joining the CIA, Iliana 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, Chilean chef 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, Chefs de la Vega and Torrealba opened El Naranjo Restaurant on Austin’s trendiest Rainey St. area. 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 two years chef Iliana 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 in Austin.
In 2014 The Mexican Government granted Chef de la Vega with the prestigious Ohtli award in recognition for her work with the Hispanic population and Mexican gastronomy. The Ohtli is the greatest award from the Mexican Government to Mexicans living abroad.
In 2014 The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of the Greater Austin area named chef de la Vega the Hispanic Female entrepreneur of the year.
Iliana is also a consultant for the prestigious Stanford University Dinning Enterprises.
Chef Iliana along with her daughter Isabel conduct culinary trips to different regions of Mexico. (Austin, TX).