El Naranjo, Austin’s traditional Mexican restaurant, helmed by 2022 James Beard Award winning Chef Iliana de la Vega and her partner Ernesto Torrealba, announced their newest Chef de Cuisine, her daughter, Chef Ana Torrealba.
Chef Ana Torrealba has been by Chef de la Vega’s side since the beginning; watching her open the original El Naranjo in Oaxaca, which has been praised “the soul of Mexico,” then moving to the United States in 2006 and opening the highly decorated and acclaimed El Naranjo in Austin.
Chef Torrealba graduated from The Culinary Institute of America with an Associate’s Degree in Baking and Pastry. After returning home to work in her family’s restaurant and local bakeries, she was included in Zagat’s “30 under 30” best chefs in Austin. With a deep interest in the chemistry of food, Chef Torrealba returned to Mexico, where she studied at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana and graduated with a degree in Food Engineering. For the past two years, she has been cooking alongside Chef de la Vega in El Naranjo’s kitchen.
“I feel so lucky to share the same passion with Ana in the kitchen,” says Chef de la Vega. “The experience and expertise that she brings as Chef de Cuisine will take our team to the next level, and I cannot wait to continue our hard work, as we create even more memories side-by-side.”
As Chef de la Vega’s oldest daughter, Chef Torrealba will take over as Chef de Cuisine and will continue the culinary traditions El Naranjo has celebrated while bringing youthful trends to the restaurant. Passionate about food and flavor, this auspicious transition brings an exciting influx of vibrancy and vitality to the restaurant.
Says Chef Torrealba, “I could not have gotten to where I am today in my culinary career without the support of my mother. I look forward to continuing the culinary traditions that preserve traditional family recipes and the flavors of generations while adding just a hint of something new at El Naranjo.”
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