Introducing Winner of The Food Network’s “Chopped,” Chef Raffaele Ronca, Naples-born chef who left his beloved hometown at the age of 19 and headed for NYC to be more accepted as a gay man. Raff, who initially wanted to be an actor, quickly found success in his “day gig,” working behind the bar and, ultimately, in the kitchen of NYC’s most popular restaurants. His passion for cooking and entertaining eventually eclipsed his desire to pursue acting and led to a lifelong career. His time on the popular Food Network show allowed him to revisit his love of acting, and brought his career to a whole new level. Shortly after his win, he opened Rafele NYC’s West Village, the epicenter of the gay rights movement. The restaurant, Rafele, offered guests an authentic Italian experience and was an immediate success. Just last year, he opened a second location in Rye, New York.
Chef Ronca wholeheartedly believes in giving back to the community and supporting LGBTQ youth. He often donates his time and gifts by appearing at and cooking for various LGBTQ charities, including the Rainbow Railroad, an organization dedicated to helping lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals escape violence and persecution in their home countries.
Chef Ronca can speak on:
- General features and profiles
- World Pride themed cocktail, the Espresso Yourself Martini
- Rainbow Railroad and supporting LGBT youth
More on Chef Raffaele Ronca:
Born and raised in Naples, Italy, Raffaele Ronca comes from a family of butchers and fishermen who collectively inspired his lifelong passion for food and flavors. With his family also in the restaurant business, Raffaele embraced cooking and culinary explorations as integral parts of not only his Italian culture, but also his heart and soul.
Working in his uncle’s restaurant in Naples and helping his mother make fresh pasta daily, Raffaele learned to respect the beauty and taste of fresh ingredients, as well as the time it takes to select and prepare them for fine dishes.
Immigrating to America at the age of 21, Raffaele worked steadily at some of New York’s most authentic Italian restaurants, including as the executive chef at Palma, chef du cuisine at Bellavitae and manager of food and wine at Caffé Torino.
Today, Chef Raffele Ronca is a winner of the hit Food Network show “Chopped.” He is also a collaborator with the James Beard Foundation, and his signature Buffalo Ricotta Cheesecake has been featured twice in Food & Wine magazine as one of the top cheesecakes in America, in addition to having received other impressive culinary accolades.
Chef Raffaele’s second restaurant, Rafele Rye, will make its debut in Westchester County, NY, in the spring of 2018.