Jesse Roque
Executive Chef, Never Blue

Jesse Roque opened Never Blue with her husband and artist mother as a café/bakery and art gallery, but over the last eight years, the restaurant has grown to a globally inspired tapas hotspot drawing loyal diners from across the Southeast.

Jesse grew up underfoot in the various kitchens of her friends and family in Tampa, Florida where she learned techniques and methods from people that had a genuine love and compassion for food. Her first jobs in restaurants started at age 15, so becoming a chef was the logical next step to a career in the hospitality industry. 

At 21 years old, she headed for Johnson & Wales in Charleston, South Carolina to start her culinary adventures. Three quarters through culinary school, she took a pastry detour. Jesse continued to move between chef and pastry chef throughout her career.

Highlights include an internship at the famed Fontainebleau Hilton Resort in Miami Beach and classical French, Four Star, award winning restaurant, Le Festival in Coral Gables, Florida. She apprenticed under renowned Charleston chefs “Mama Rose” Durden at Carolina’s, Donald Barickman at both Blossom and Magnolia’s, and under famed "Rock n' Roll Chef" Kerry Simon at Mercury in South Beach, Florida. She landed the Executive Pastry Chef position at the AAA Four Diamond Charleston Grille inside the Charleston Place Hotel in 1999 working under world renowned, celebrity chef, Bob Waggoner and Michelle Weaver. She later opened Yia Yia’s Euro Bistro locations for PB&J Restaurants, Inc. in Memphis, Tennessee and St. Louis, Missouri.

A new start brought her mother to a little house on Never Blue Road in Western North Carolina. Jesse visited her mom and after some soul searching, decided to stay and open a coffee shop/art gallery with her mother. After a year of construction, Never Blue opened in February of 2008 and has emerged as a dining icon in downtown Hendersonville. Jesse Roque has become a noted chef in the North Carolina dining scene and is known for her seamless melding of flavors and use of local and often unusual ingredients.

Jesse was named 2016 North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association Chef of the Year at the North Carolina Chef Showdown in Raleigh, NC in August. Her recipes have been featured in Chefs of the Mountains: Restaurants and Recipes from Western North Carolina and Fine Dining: Tennessee Style. She has also been featured in Restaurant Hospitality Magazine, Southern Living Magazine, WNC Magazine, Charleston Place Magazine, Parents Magazine, and Upscale Magazine.

Jesse and her husband, Edson, live on a small family farm, which produces eggs, vegetables, and unique herbs for the restaurant. On her days off, Jesse homeschools their two girls, Violet and Lily Jo, she cans and preserves food stuffs for the restaurant, and enjoys all the beauty and adventures Western North Carolina has to offer.

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