Eat your way through Mexico with El Naranjo Chef Iliana de la Vega’s cultural culinary tours

The James Beard Award-winning El Naranjo chef — and master of Mexican cuisine — will host special menus inspired by different regions in Mexico and destination tastings in the next year.

Isabel Torrealba and Iliana de la Vega smile while working with a mortar and pestle.

Each culinary destination comes complete with a carefully-curated itinerary put together by mother-daughter duo Iliana de la Vega and Isabel Torrealba.

Photo courtesy of Iliana de la Vega

How far will your love of Mexican food take you? Chef Iliana de la Vega of El Naranjo, the limit does not exist.

After 25 years in the restaurant industry, five years researching Mexican cuisine for the Culinary Institute of America, and a James Beard Award, Chef Iliana will share pieces of her expertise through curated tasting tours around Mexico.

Think of the tours — which are put on through the family’s gastronomic experience company, Mexican Culinary Traditions — as a professionally planned vacation to Mexico’s most delicious destinations.

"(We wanted to bring) more variety to the guests, different experiences,” Iliana told ATXtoday. “We’re not here only for the money, but we are doing something we believe in.”


Guests in attendance will get their hands dirty with a chance to learn first-hand from the James Beard Award-winning chef.

Photo courtesy of Iliana de la Vega

Each week-long trip includes city tours, arts and crafts, luxury lodging, and food-focused experiences — like trips to local markets and cooking classes — alongside Chef Iliana and standout chefs from Mexico.

“These people are special for what they do, and they deserve to be more known,” Iliana said. “There is a lot of people doing beautiful things, so why not to bring them on and showcase them?”

A bunch of warm-toned flags flapping in the wind in front of a red building.

Iliana said they hope to show guests the intricacies of regional Mexican cuisine through hands-on experiences, education, and unforgettable eats.

Photo courtesy of Iliana de la Vega

Next year’s itinerary includes trips to the following destinations:

Can’t swing a trip abroad? Chef Iliana will also bring a taste of these regions home through rotating specials at El Naranjo in Austin. June’s specials include grilled octopus tacos and mole blanco served with halibut from Central Mexico.

Learn more about taking a culinary tour with Chef Iliana.

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