Raphaël, the globe-trotting Chef of Les Jardins

Raphaël, the globe-trotting Chef of Les Jardins

He is the new Head Chef at Les Jardins restaurant of the Hôtel du Centre in Noumea, and he kindly granted us an interview. Dive into the world of this travel enthusiast, a native of New Caledonia (nicknamed "Le Caillou"), who takes pride in his profession. His cooking is generous and authentic. Steering clear of avant-garde recipes and molecular gastronomy, he favors the traditional style, as it resonates with his preferences. Here is the portrait of Raphaël Josse.

Meet Raphaël

As a child, his professional goal was to become a pirate! (laughs) At 31, he explains that he ultimately became addicted to cooking. From his boyhood dreams, he has retained an immense love for adventure and the Pacific.

In fact, his journey began at L'Astrolabe, a former restaurant in the baie des Citrons, symbolically starting his career under the banner of navigation.

A few years after this initial experience, his thirst for travel led him first to the Vanuatu archipelago. There, he participated in the opening of the Ramada Resort in Port-Vila.

He then headed to New Zealand for WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms – exchanging services for accommodation), followed by a 3-year working holiday in Australia. His expertise in French cuisine was in high demand. From Melbourne to Mount Hotham, and through Hobart in Tasmania to the capital Canberra, he worked through the seasons and achieved great success in various restaurants.

Since returning to the Territory, he had been working at the Couleur Café snack bar in the Port Plaisance gallery until a Chef position opened up at the Hôtel du Centre, which he naturally applied for, seeking slightly more flexible hours without split shifts.

Team spirit and discipline

What motivates Raphaël in his profession is primarily the team spirit and discipline inherent in the culinary world. From the outset, he was captivated by the necessary collaboration and the almost "military" nature of the profession.

In his role as Chef at Les Jardins of the Hôtel du Centre, he is fully committed to his duties. Managing a team, ensuring smooth service, guaranteeing product quality, placing orders, managing stock, and creating menus are integral parts of his daily routine.

Chinese portrait

  • If you were a dish? A steak and fries, a no-frills meal!
  • If you were a dessert? Floating island. My grandmother often made it for me when I was little; it left a mark on me.
  • If you were a kitchen utensil? A slicing knife. It’s the first utensil used in the kitchen, versatile for everything...
  • 3 things you always have in your fridge? Meat, shrimp, and fish.
  • The Chef, famous or not, who inspires you? René Rodolosi, the former Chef of L'Astrolabe, who trained and mentored me. I started with him as an apprentice and ended up as his Second.
  • If you were not a restaurant Chef? I would have been a police officer in the BAC (the French anti-crime brigade). I love investigations and enjoy action.
  • Your best quality and your main imperfection? I can quickly become demotivated or angry. But I'm loyal and reliable; I would never leave my team in the lurch.

The taste for well-done work

For Raphaël, the importance lies in attention to detail and the constant pursuit of excellence. His approach emphasizes the importance of dedication, a cardinal virtue in his profession.

"Despite the pressure, I like things to be well executed. Being able to choose the right products, manage the perfect cooking, and present beautiful plates... Honestly, I prefer to serve 30 good covers rather than 80 done hastily! But it’s the same everywhere: all professionals will tend to tell you the same thing."

Thus, Raphaël's passion for cooking goes beyond mere food preparation. It is about the taste of a job well done and the satisfaction of offering a high-quality culinary experience that motivates him every day.

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