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Born in Southern California, Chef Raphael Lunetta grew traveling to France with his family most summers to his aunt’s 18th century farmhouse in Southern France where he learned at a young age the preparation and eating of simple, good homemade food. There they would enjoy large family dinners: cooking fresh mackerel over open fires made with dried grapevines, eating calamari and shellfish right from the sea, and roasting ripe vegetables from this fertile Mediterranean region. These experiences are what shaped Raphael’s love for light, simple French cooking.
Last year his restaurant JiRaffe celebrated its 16th anniversary and remains one of the most sought after reservations in the seaside city of Santa Monica. His Rustic American/ French cuisine, noted for its simplicity and clarity of flavors, is prepared with the best regional products, plus a little love from the kitchen. Additionally, he co-owns Lemon Moon restaurant with long-time friend and business partner Josiah Citrin.
Recent guest chef appearances include Rancho La Puerta Resort; multiple cruises as a guest chef with Crystal Cruises; Chef Media Spokesman for California Tourism in Australia; Heal the Bay fundraising events; many Roy Yamaguchi Anniversary Celebrations and the Hawaii Food & Wine Festivals with friends/chefs Alan Wong and Roy; Sundance Resort, and many non-profit events throughout greater L.A. including the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival. Chef Lunetta was named Nation’s Restaurant News “Fine Dining Award”, “Top 10 New Chefs” by Food & Wine Magazine (1997) and was a judge on BRAVO-TV’s “Top Chefs.”