Raffi Cohen acquired his passion for food in the kitchen of his Grandmother Aziza – his maternal grandmother, and a divine cook. Couscous, stuffed sardines, and other items on the menu are rooted in the legendary heritage of the Moroccan kitchen, which Cohen absorbed in childhood. Kubbeh from the Kurdish neighbours, and the Turkish neighbours’ burek are stored in the memories of a child raised in a Jerusalem neighbourhood crammed with busy kitchens and ethnic flavours.

At 13, Raffi became an apprentice pastry chef at the King David Hotel where, before joining the army, he learned the  basics of pastry and baking. In tandem with serving as an army pastry chef, Raffi apprenticed at Chef Ezra Kedem’s Arcadia restaurant in Jerusalem. Post-army, Raffi went to Europe where he apprenticed at Michelin-starred restaurants such as Alain Passard’s L’Arpège, in Paris, and in London’s The Oak Room – with Marco Pierre White. There he learned about raw materials, uncompromising professionalism, and the illustrious culinary traditions of elite European cuisine.

In 2000, now aged 23,  Raffi returned to Jerusalem and became chef of La Regence at the King David hotel – the youngest chef  ever appointed to this prestigious position. Under his guidance, the kosher restaurant became one of Israel’s best.

A year later, Chef Cohen launched Raphaël in Tel-Aviv. From the start, the restaurant received unprecedented acclaim from critics and the public, and over the years, it remains one of Israel’s best-loved and admired restaurants.