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5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became a Chef, with Chef Ryan Rondeno and Phil Laboon

The higher the level; the tougher the road and challenge. If it was easy, everyone would do it. I do believe a strong support system is mandatory to achieve greatness. We always have to understand that its bigger than us. My father, who passed away in 2009, was my biggest support system. When the road […]


The higher the level; the tougher the road and challenge. If it was easy, everyone would do it. I do believe a strong support system is mandatory to achieve greatness. We always have to understand that its bigger than us. My father, who passed away in 2009, was my biggest support system. When the road was tough, I knew he’d be there to push me forward. He’d always remind me to never give up. Today, I continue with the same drive. It’s bigger than me.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Chef Ryan Rondeno. Chef Ryan has a passion for French, Italian and Regional American Cuisine. Daily 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.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! What inspired you to become a chef (or restauranteur)?

The inspiration of becoming a chef comes from seeing and experiencing food as a young boy. I was fortunate to taste amazing food and experience the love of creole cuisine. Also, the ability to become engaged in creativity has been a great factor for me.

What has your journey been like since first stepping foot in a kitchen?

The journey has been amazing. I’ve had the chance to work with and learn from amazing chefs throughout my years. When I first stepped into the kitchen, it was a surreal experience. The vast amount of ingredients and techniques that have been applied are now a part of my cooking repertoire. New Orleans will always be my birthplace of the journey. I’ve had the privilege of working with chefs such as Emeril Lagasse, Anne Kearney, and Sue Zemanick. They’ve set the foundation of who I am today in the restaurant world. I’ll always take with me the foundation of being at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute. A school that is continually filled with talented teachers and up and coming chefs to learn from.

Do you have a specialty? If so, what drew you to that type of food?

Creole cuisine is my specialty. I’ve always been drawn to this type of cuisine because the boldness and flavorful food that’s like no other in the world.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you became a chef?

The summer of 1998 in a hot New Orleans kitchen was amazing. I’ll never forget this. The chef gives me the assignment of prepping a case of jalapeño peppers. I’d made the mistake of not wearing gloves. I’m prepping the peppers without a problem. All of a sudden the jalapeños start to seep into my pores. If I touched my arm, I’d feel the burn. While being young and inexperienced, I use the restroom. I guess you can imagine what happened next.

What is your definition of success?

I believe that success comes in different forms of wealth, health, or achieving goals.

I believe that everyone has their own version of success, and depending on that person’s perspective on success, they will achieve greatness.

For most money means success, while for me success means achieving your goals. The money will always follow. We also have health goals too which equate to vast levels of success. Entrepreneurs can’t achieve greatness if their not taking care of their body.

Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

Starting in the restaurant industry didn’t come easy. I encountered many characteristics that didn’t mesh at first. Communication and team building needed to come into the equation. Growing up as a introvert didn’t help either. I knew something had to change. The ability to be vocal would play an important part in my success. Some days were tough because it was uncomfortable, but the chefs saw more in me. They would put in in situations that required me to be confident and lead a team. The series of events turned out to be a great success and allowed me to help others who struggled with the same ability.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

The higher the level; the tougher the road and challenge. If it was easy, everyone would do it. I do believe a strong support system is mandatory to achieve greatness. We always have to understand that its bigger than us. My father, who passed away in 2009, was my biggest support system. When the road was tough, I knew he’d be there to push me forward. He’d always remind me to never give up. Today, I continue with the same drive. It’s bigger than me.

So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?

The culinary industry isn’t always easy. We face tough roads and challenges on a daily basis. Persistence and desire are a couple of charactersics that often lead to success. I’d always ask myself “Was I good enough?” or “How can I get better?”. Self-motivation remained a key factor for me in order to achieve greatness. I was able to turn things around with consistency. With consistency, I’m able to keep my eye on the prize.

So, how are things going today? 🙂

With the help of an amazing team, things are moving in the right direction. We just executed a local popup dinner at Stage & Table. The event was a great success. My gourmet meal service is continuing to bring on new clients and provide excellent meals across Los Angeles. The spice collection is making a name in the market and allowing cooks to enhance recipes in their homes. We can’t forget about my e-cookbook. Its giving more cooks confidence in the kitchen and different menu ideas to prepare for family and friends. The t-shirts are a motivational reminder to keep pushing forward. I encourage everyone to pick one up today!! I’m very happy with the progress and looking forward to what 2019 has to offer.

Choose: What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became a Chef” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Long hours, little pay- As you start out in this career, hours are long and pay is low. We all have to earn our dues. The chef wants your level of commitment before he/she will invest in your career and guide you to success. As your career grows, hours are long but pay is better.

2. You’ll be friends for life.

Chefs spend more time in restaurants than with family or friends. You’re able to build a life-long bond that’ll bring about self-development. Some of the best lessons are built in a restaurant. I always appreciate the soldiers that I was able to go to war with everyday,

3. No personal time.

The culinary industry requires a lot of your attention. I always appreciate the time when I do have it. I always want to catch up and see whats going on around the city.

4. No sick days or injuries.

You’re expected to work sick and not really take time off. I believe you have to be really sick or in the hospital to get time off. I’d rather someone stay at home and not get anyone else sick. It also affects the quality of the food.

5. Your goals for your career will constantly change.

When I started cooking, I wanted to focus on being a pastry chef. Once, I tasted the hot line everything changed. It led me to all of the projects that I have now.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?

I’m working on different projects now. My spice line(Ryan Rondeno Spice Collection) will be bringing in three new flavors(Louisiana Gumbo Rub, Smoked Coffee Rub, Caribbean Jerk Rub) to join the existing flavors(Nola Creole Rub, Ancho-Chile BBQ Rub, and Citrus Herb Rub). I’m building a meal prep service in Los Angeles that targets the busy professional or someone that’s looking for weight loss. I also have a cooking and motivational t-shirt line. I believe we can always use a little motivation along the way. We can’t forget about my 30 recipe ebook! Its a super simple e-cookbook that can be executed in your home!

What advice do you have for aspiring chefs?

My advice for aspiring chefs is to try new food. I believe young chefs should experience new favors to expand their palate. They should never stop researching and learning.

What is the key to creating the perfect dish?

The key to creating the perfect dish is balance and building flavors.

Thank you so much for joining us!

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