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Celebrated chef and personality Raphael Lunetta is one of the most well-known and respected chefs in Southern California. Last year his restaurant JiRaffe celebrated its 15th anniversary. It remains one of the most sought after reservations in the seaside city of Santa Monica, where the food is noted for its simplicity and clarity of flavors.
JiRaffe offers a warm, unfussy ambiance that keeps the spotlight on its food which is rustic American/French cuisine. When asked to describe his food, Chef Raphael said … “it is fresh locally sourced produce, meats and seafood, then prepared with ‘love’ from our kitchen, combined with robust portions using many products from local suppliers and the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. ”
Chef Raphael was honored in 1997 as one of the “Ten Top New Chefs” by Food and Wine Magazine. In 2009 he received the coveted “Fine Dining Award” from Nation’s Restaurant News. He still works in his kitchen and connects with guests making sure every customer has a personal dining experience when eating at JiRaffe. Raphael co-owns Lemon Moon in West Los Angeles with business partner and long-time friend Josiah Citrin.
As well as for his talent in the kitchen, Raphael is known for his second passion: surfing. He has earned the title “the surfing chef” as he frequents Southern California beaches riding the waves and continuing his commitment to the Southern California coastline. He represented the State of California to Australian media members as the “surfing chef,” was a celebrity guest judge on BRAVO- TV’s popular “Top Chef” and has traveled the globe as a guest chef at many resorts, cruises and for culinary events.
Born in Southern California, Raphael grew up in a family where preparing and eating good, homemade food was ingrained at a young age. His family visited his aunt’s 18th Century farmhouse retreat during summers in the South of France. There they would enjoy large family dinners: cooking fresh mackerel over open fires made with dried grapevines, eating calamari and shellfish right from the ocean, and roasting ripe vegetables from this fertile Mediterranean region. This setting began Raphael’s love for light, simple French cooking.
Chef Raphael is married to television news personality Gabriela Teissier de Lunetta and they have two sons, Etienne and Enzo.