Must do trip for all those who love to explore authentic Mexican food in the safe environment

"Our super popular Mexican Legendary Chef, Iliana de la Vega doesn’t need any introduction.

When a Chef of such stature makes an announcement of taking the culinary trip to Oaxaca you are bound to feel excited to join her along. This culinary trip was on my bucket list.

I want to thank her for the most beautiful and informative culinary trip she hosted in February 2017. It was week full of exploring charming, colorful, clean and safe Oaxaca city and its delicious eateries and high-end restaurants. Got to see and eat at street. Was amazing that Chef had organized the trip in a way that we could even see touristy sites.

The highlight of the trip was cooking class with chef Iliana, learning how to make Artisan Oaxacan Queso Fresco and other Mexican dishes including the uber famous mole... Can’t forget the Mezcal tasting with spiced Chapulines.

The memories from the trip will be remembered by me for rest of my life. It is must do trip for all those who love to explore authentic Mexican food in the safe environment.”

Culinary regards,

-Vikas Seth I Chef & Culinary Director I Embassy Group 

Embassy Leisure & Entertainment Projects LLP I Lounge Hospitality LLP I 


 I have been to Oaxaca a number of times but this was different

"Ileana took us to sophisticated dinners at top scale restaurants but, even better, took us to local places where tourists would not normally go. Great fun and a wonderful introduction to Mexican culture and cuisine. I would like to do it again."

 – Chip (Charles) Mosmann

My father, who is in his 80s, and I have gone on tour with Iliana twice, and I can’t wait to go again with my husband! 

"I have to start with the food; after all, that’s the most important part! Iliana taught us a cooking class that made making delicious Oaxacan food seem effortless. I have taken several cooking classes in the US and in Europe, and this class produced the BEST food. And the restaurants—I’ve been back to Oaxaca many times on my own, and I still go to the restaurants that Iliana introduced us to.

But the markets! Oaxaca has at least three large food markets that sell fresh meat and produce, coffee, chocolate, moles and other sauces, handicrafts... and lots more. Iliana took us on a tour of these markets, pointing out exotic spices (epazote, Mexican canela)—well, they were exotic to me, anyway!

Just walking through Oaxaca and seeing the people and the restaurants and the shops was so much fun. And importantly, even at night, we always felt very safe. The landmarks we saw were amazing—Monte Alban must be seen to be believed! The tour was very informative, yet casual in tone.

I brought back an amazing quantity of coffee, chocolate, and spices. And my husband LOVES the “Salsa Macha” that you can get on Iliana’s website. It’s hot, but SO GOOD; he puts it on everything, even non-Mexican dishes, from eggs to salads to steak."

 – Andrea Mosmann, Los Angeles CA


"I was privileged enough to go to Oaxaca with Iliana in January. One of the best trips and culinary experiences ever."

 – Chef Gabriel Ibarra, San Antonio TX

A culinary tour de force 

" Travelling Oaxaca with Ileana is not just another tour, it's a culinary tour de force – an edible expedition into the extraordinary culture(s) and history of this unique, original place of Mexican civilization. Generally, I'm not inclined to take guided tours, much less to tout one, but this small-group journey with de la Vega (who is Oaxacan, and a fabulous chef to boot) provides a perfect mix of indigenous and modern Oaxaca. Plus, you get to eat the whole thing!"

 – Jim Hightower | Former Texas Agriculture Commissioner, author, public speaker, and radio commentator. 

The true test of an experience like this is whether you tell others to do the same.  Our answer is a resounding yes

“We found out about Chef Iliana's tours when we ate at her wonderful restaurant in Austin.  It sounded like fun and we convinced two of our travel buddies to go with us to Oaxaca.  Frankly, because this is not a big, well known tour group and we sort of stumbled upon it, we were not sure what to expect.

Well, after almost a week under Iliana's "wings", we can't say enough about how wonderful this trip was.  The food, at high end fancy places, small local stops we would have never gone to on our own, or made by us after shopping trips to local markets was fabulous. We learned so much about real Mexican food and traditions. The tour also had a nice mix of culture, shopping and free time along with the culinary delights.  Of course, the perfect Oaxacan weather, and plentiful Mezcal didn't hurt either! 

Iliana and Isabel were so organized and were always accommodating to questions and special requests....they responded to anything that one of us needed or wanted, well..., within reason!

The true test of an experience like this is whether you tell others to do the same.  Our answer is a resounding yes. We have encouraged friends and family to go to Mexico with Iliana!!  We may even do so again ourselves.”

- Esther and Steve Rotella

Mexican Culinary Traditions the best value to date   

"We have taken many tours into numerous regions of Mexico and Mexican Culinary Traditions’ trip for us was the best value to date.

I found the broad scope of Chef Iliana de la Vega’s Mexican Culinary Traditions tour of Oaxaca to be engaging in every way. She is not only an accomplished chef and food anthropologist, but also has an intimate knowledge of the city and state having lived there and operated one of the country’s most influential and highly regarded restaurants before leaving for the US. Today Chef de la Vega along with her husband is the Chef Owner of El Naranjo in Austin, where diners enjoy fabulous indigenous cuisine of Mexico.

Our tour not only included museums, botanical gardens and World Heritage Sites, but also the workshops of textile weavers and artists from whom we bought colorful sculptures and hand dyed rugs at the most favorable prices for them and us. We were invited into private homes and kitchens to savor the flavors and learn the ingredients and techniques that have made the unique plates of Oaxaca, Mexico hugely influential and popular the world over. Dining included casual eateries, fine restaurants and trusted street food so we got the best bites and variety. Chef de la Vega was able to translate and ensure we had a full understanding of what we experienced.

We stayed in a wonderful small hotel that Mexican Culinary Traditions knew was centrally located but quiet, refreshing, comfortable and safe. I can go on and on, but encourage you to see Mexico for yourself with Mexican Culinary Traditions."

Buen Viaje!

 – Kathy Martinides 

I highly recommend Mexican Culinary Traditions to anyone looking for an in-depth experience of Oaxaca

"I had the pleasure of traveling to Oaxaca with Iliana and Mexican Culinary Traditions this year. It was one of the most enjoyable trips I’ve ever taken. Chef Iliana lived in Oaxaca and has an insider’s knowledge of Oaxaca, its cuisine, and its culture. She exposed us to a wide range of culinary experiences, from high-end modern Oaxacan cuisine, to market vendors, to cooking together in a private home, and many others. She knows the best artisans in Oaxaca and took us to craft demonstrations and shopping that we might not have found on our own. We also visited ruins and learned about the history of the Oaxacan people. The group size was small, and the accommodations were comfortable. Chef Iliana and the people who helped her were a pleasure to travel with, and we felt like family by the end of the trip. I highly recommend Mexican Culinary Traditions to anyone looking for an in-depth experience of Oaxaca."

 – Barbara Grajski, Texas, USA 

The experience far exceeded everyone’s expectations

"My wife Suzy and I love Mexico, and had visited Oaxaca twice before we took this trip. Oaxaca is “old Mexico” and we were excited to hear that our friends Iliana and Ernesto were offering tours to their former hometown. Our restaurant business is always challenging and we decided it would be a fun reward for 10 of our key people to have a bonding trip and a culinary adventure. The experience far exceeded everyone’s expectations. Iliana and Tito are Oaxacan celebrities and many old friends in markets, restaurants and homes warmly welcomed our group. We were able to visit most of the highlights of the valley of Oaxaca and sights and experiences that only natives would know. Our driver, Rafael, was a long time friend of Iliana’s, and was willing to go wherever and explain the history with many back stories. His wife, Rosa María, taught us how to make quesillo, the Oaxacan treasure developed by her own family. Iliana’s exhaustive knowledge of the food and markets of the region were wonderfully educational and rewarding. Her advice on the best restaurants and puestos was always right on. We highly recommend this trip for your bucket list. Our hotel was well located, comfortable, and very hospitable. If you are considering this trip and have any concerns or questions, feel free to call us."

 – Cappy and Suzy Lawton, San Antonio TX

It was fabulous! 

"I highly recommend the trip to Oaxaca!. I have been going to Oaxaca for 30 years."

 – Jennifer Friedman, Austin TX. 

We learned to cook some of the region’s favorite dishes

"We cannot say enough great things about our Mexican Culinary Traditions and culture tour in Oaxaca this year! Under the direction of celebrated Chef Iliana de la Vega, our experience was highly educational, a whole lot of fun and provided us with a great memory. We are now avid lovers of the cuisine and people of this region of Mexico, and we learned to cook some of the region’s favorite dishes as well.

Our tour group was from all over the world and we made friendships we’ll value for a long time to come. Iliana’s staff was simply amazing and we cannot thank them enough for everything they did to make the tour a big success.

The warm and charming hospitality of the Oaxaca people is etched on our minds and we look forward to going back to Oaxaca many times in the future.

This tour was a truly an amazing experience that I would recommend to anyone interested in the Mexican cuisine and culture. Thank you Iliana de la Vega! "

 – Susan and Robert Mueller – Austin, TX