Iliana de la Vega is a Mexican-born chef and restaurateur who have been studying Mexican cuisine and culture for more than 25 years. Her culinary specialty lies with the 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.
For five years 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. She also launched the Latin Cuisines Certificate Program.
Before joining the CIA, Iliana won worldwide acclaim for her reinterpretation of Oaxacan cuisine at her restaurant 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 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 in Austin. El Naranjo has become one of the top 10 best restaurants in Austin. Before El Naranjo Mobile and Catering, a successful food trailer the press called, “the only real Mexican restaurant in Texas.”
Chef de la Vega serves in the advisory board of “Foodways of Mexico” program at UT LLILAS. For two years chef Iliana had a radio show: Platicando y Cocinando en Español, with the goal of improving and supporting the lives 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 Mexican gastronomy The Ohtli is the greatest award from the Mexican Government to the Mexicans living abroad. Also 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 a member of Les Dames D’Escoffier and a member of the Guilde Internationale des Fromagers for her dedication to create awareness to Mexican cheeses.