Oaxacan cooking expert, restaurateur, educator and culinary consultant Iliana de la Vega is the founder of El Naranjo, a Oaxaca-based restaurant and cooking school that she ran with her husband for more than 10 years before opening its second namesake location in Austin, Texas in 2012. The chef has also served as the Mexican/Latin Cuisines Specialist for the Culinary Institute of America, creating and launching their Latin Cuisines Certificate program. In 2014, she was recognized by the Mexican Government in 2014 with the Ohtli award - the highest honor given to citizens living abroad, and she was a James Beard Foundation award semi-finalist for Best Chef Southwest in 2019. Her culinary travel company, Mexican Culinary Traditions, launched in 2015 and provides small groups with intimate culinary experiences throughout various regions of Mexico. She is passionate about authentic tortillas and works with different communities in Oaxaca on the cultivation and use of rare chiles.
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