Born in Metairie, Louisiana, Chef Ryan Rondeno grew up surrounded by great southern cooks, including his grandfather who was a local legendary chef. Being a prep cook in Big Easy New at a young age, has lead Chef Rondeno into a passion for cooking. He introduces his clients to new cuisine with his focus on local, sustainable cuisine with a strong emphasis on bold flavors. Chef Rondeno continues to revamp his own style of cooking with the love of New Orleans cuisine and fresh California flavors.
When did your love for cooking begin?
My love for food begin at 16 yrs old. I mean I always messed around in the kitchen at a younger age, but it really hit me at that age. It wasn’t until I was 18 that I set out to make it a career.
Where did you receive your formal culinary training?
My cooking career started a Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.During culinary school, I worked under the late Chef Jamie Shannon of Commander’s Palace, who instilled the importance of restaurant service, and Chef Anne Kearney of Peristyle, who focused on detail and perfection. These two chefs helped me build a strong foundation of southern cooking and superb technique. After obtaining a college degree, I worked with chefs Emeril Lagasse, Anton Schulte, Mathais Wolf, Sue Zemenick, and Gerard Maras to enrich his culinary repertoire. I was able to establish culinary techniques in French, Italian, Southern, Cajun-Creole, and farm-to-table cuisines under remarkable chef-teachers and mentors. When Hurricane Katrina forced thousands to evacuate their homes in New Orleans, I relocated to Atlanta in 2005. It was there I rejoined the Emeril Lagasse Corporation as a saucier, butcher, and sous chef under Chef Michael Blydenstein. Then I continued to hone my skills, when I moved to New York and became Executive Chef at a Southern style seasonal restaurant.
What inspires you when you’re cooking?
Creativity brings out passion in everything we do. When I step into a kitchen, it becomes just that. My main focus is to extract flavors and keep the integrity of the product. I know that I’m only as good as my last meal. Creativity brings out the next great creation.
You focus on local and sustainable cuisine. Why is this important?
Farmers, fisherman, and purveyors alike put hard work into their craft and we have to follow suit by supporting them. It helps build the economy by supporting the small businesses, the quality of food is great, and it gives us the option of not eating processed foods.
What’s your favorite cuisine to prepare?
Cajun-Creole is my favorite cuisine to prepare. I’m still able to capitalize on the many cultures that make up this beautiful cuisine.
You’ve worked with the legendary Emeril Lagasse. What was that like?
Working with Chef Emeril and his team was a unique experience. I was fortunate to work with a handful of talent that enhanced my culinary skills everyday. From the times I was able to cook with him in the kitchen, I knew he demanded perfection and excellence. It was something that I applied not only to my professional life, but personal life as well.
You relocated to Los Angeles. Can you tell us how that came about?
In 2008, economic depression hit in different cities. During my job search, I stumbled upon a job in Los Angeles. Well to my surprise, a friend(who I went to culinary school with) submitted the ad online. I flew to Los Angeles to interview for the position which happened to be for Will Smith and his family. The rest is history.
Who are some of the celebrities you cooked for?
Will Smith, Tyrese, Common, Ben Affleck, Willie Mcginest, P. Diddy, Sugar Ray Leonard and Andrew Garfield to name a few.
If you could cook for anyone, who would that be and what would you cook?
I’d love to cook for Oprah Winfrey. I’d have to surprise her with my Lobster, white truffle, and butternut squash panna cotta. I’d also introduce her to my style of creole cuisine.
How do you manage your time in the kitchen?
Timing is everything and nonrefundable. Executing prep and dinner service is vital for me to have a successful event. I always look to focus on the task at hand. Making sure my mise en place is there so there’s no time wasted. Always cleaning as I go. Its effective because it keeps me organized.
Which is better Cooking Channel or Food Network?
I prefer watching the Cooking Channel over the Food Network. The Cooking Channel provides more teaching moments that I can apply to my career. Whereas the Food Network has been targeted to mainly challenges and reality shows. I love both networks, but the Cooking Channel has the upper hand.
Tell us about your spices?
The spice rubs were created in my kitchen during the summer of 2015. After numerous amounts of testing with events and parties, I received great feedback. I’ve always wanted my own seasonings(especially Creole seasoning) to use for my own dishes. Why not use it on my food just like other chefs around the world? I’ve always asked myself that question. So, that’s how these things came about. My Spice Collection is comprised of three awesome blends. Nola Creole Rub, Ancho-Chile BBQ Rub, and the Citrus Herb rub. Whether, you’re cooking for friends, family, or tailgating, the blends will give you a rewarding experience. The blends are great with chicken, pork, seafood, lamb, and vegetables.
Where do you see your business in 10 years?
In the next 10 years, I plan to expand my brand awareness. The spice has already started and plan to increase production in the future. In 2017, I will be releasing a e-book catered to home cooks. Eventually I want it to lead to multiple brick and mortar restaurants. I definitely would love my own knife line, cookware, and release more cookbooks. These are some goals that are set for the future.
For more information about Chef Ryan Rondeno, visit his website at www.rondenoculinarydesigns.com You can also follow him on social media.