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JiRaffe Santa Monica Restaurant - Lunch with Chef Raphael Lunetta

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Cooking with Chef Raphael Lunetta
Chef Raphael Lunetta in the kitchen at JiRaffe

Chef Raphael Lunetta arranges shaved Maitake mushrooms on a plate in the kitchen at JiRaffe Santa Monica Restaurant

Photo © 2010 Kayte Deioma, used with permission
JiRaffe is not normally open for lunch, but just for today, a select few of us have been invited to watch the chef at work and enjoy the spoils of our morning shopping.

Tender asparagus spears and roasted tomato are wrapped in a potato blanket and pan fried. Lunetta arranges them carefully on a plate and drizzles them with balsamic glaze to create a beautiful presentation. The dish never makes it out of the kitchen, as we sample the tasty appetizers while watching the other farmers market ingredients transformed before our eyes.

The delicate Maitake mushrooms are shaved paper thin and toasted to melt-in-your-mouth crispness.

Chilled Florida Rock Shrimp are added to baby zucchini and yellow summer squash, heirloom tomatoes and fresh spinach for a colorful salad. California avocados are topped with tuna tartar, surrounded by tomato gazpacho and garnished with shallots, country croutons and fresh chervil. For the main course, Alaskan halibut is pan fried to perfection, then settled on a bed of roasted cherry and orange cluster tomatoes with fresh romaine spears as spoons.

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