A modest yet exceptionally talented chef, Rafael Perez developed a big appetite for ethnic flavors at a very young age. His passion for cooking began in his mother’s kitchen, where he observed, helped and eventually learned how to prepare authentic Dominican dishes at the age of 7. Growing up near Brooklyn’s Chinatown, he visited the produce markets daily to sample dishes from his favorite Chinese, Japanese, Vietnames and Malaysian restaurants.
His passion for cooking eventually lead him to study professionally at the New York Restaurant School, where he was formally trained in classic French cuisine, followed by the Institute of Culinary Education, where he received an additional degree in Pastry Arts. Chef Rafael continued to hone his global culinary skills for the next 15 years at some of New York’s most notable restaurants. His impressive resume includes Montrachet (French), Telepan (New American), Fig & Olive (Mediterranean), Fatty Crab (Malaysian), Megu, Morimoto (Japanese), and Lotus Blue (Yunnan).
In addition to his extensive restaurant experience, he has catered numerous events and taught many cooking classes in the Big Apple. Chef Rafael is a patient and knowledgeable educator who enjoys teaching others. His mild obsession with molecular gastronomy was indulged at New York’s famous test kitchen, the Tasting Table, where he worked just prior to leaving NYC. In this ever evolving foodie world, he feels it is important to stay on top of all the latest culinary trends. He is constantly learning.
Chef Rafael has a deep appreciation for fresh, seasonal ingredients and for all foreign cultures. These passions have led him to visit many countries in pursuit of local flavors and culinary inspiration. His latest discovery is the exotic spices of the Middle East and Africa, where he traveled through for almost a month. He looks forward to utilizing Lancaster’s beautiful local, fresh, and organic ingredients to create his classically prepared yet modern, flavorful cuisine at Citronnelle.
Owner/Manager Susan Louie
Chef/Owner Rafael Perez
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Susan was born in Hong Kong, the daughter of a professional chef and restauranteur. Her family moved to New York City when she was just 2. They lived in Manhattan’s Chinatown for 4 years before finally settling into Queens so her father could be closer to his restaurant. As a young girl growing up in New York’s melting pot, her father exposed her to many different types of cuisines
and taught her to appreciate flavorful, freshly prepared food. A foodie was born at the age of 4.
While she had a deep appreciation for food, her passion for fashion and international business led her to pursue a degree and successful 30-year career in the field of apparel design. While working in the fashion industry she earned a masters degree in marketing and management, balancing out her skill sets. In between her career and MBA, she traveled the world solo for 6 months, immersing herself in many fascinating cultures. She shared her discoveries online, long before blogs were ever invented. While some may call her an overachiever, she just calls herself “always hungry” – hungry for life, learning, and the pursuit of excellence. Her favorite quote is from Helen Keller, who once stated, “Life is either a daring adventure, or it is nothing at all.
Susan’s latest adventure is Citronnelle, where she and her husband Rafael plan to continue pursuing excellence in food quality and service. Her late father serves as an inspiration for her, as does Rafael. She is excited to have Citronnelle become a part of the vibrant Lancaster City community and looks forward to partnering with her husband to provide delicious modern French cuisine to the equally ‘hungry’ foodies of Lancaster and beyond.