Showing posts with label Activate Drinks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Activate Drinks. Show all posts

Chef Ryan Rondeno’s Cuisine Adds a Bit of Louisiana "Lagniappe" at Garden Party

Watch "Meanwhile,Back At Café Du Monde…” one of the most popular food channels on

Chef Ryan Rondeno's Adds A Bit of  

Louisiana "Lagniappe"

 to Garden Party

A few months ago, Ryan Rondeno, a private chef in Los Angeles reached out to me.  Another “foodie” friend, Chef Melinda Curtis, who I had met at 2011 Tasty Awards, referred Ryan to me.  He’s a New Orleans native who lives in Los Angeles and is a private chef to the stars!  Ryan has cooked for Will and Jada Smith, Tyrese Gibson and Sugar Ray Leonard.  Ryan and I became FB friend and I told him I would keep him in mind for the next Los Angeles show of “Meanwhile, Back At Café Du Monde…”. Ryan has worked at the best New Orleans restaurants, including Commander’s Palace and Emeril’s and has been in Los Angeles for three years. A few months later, I needed to get a caterer for the VIP Suite for the fundraiser I was producing and I immediately reached out to him.

Chef Ryan Rondeno was created earlier this year to raise funds to help Nancy and Jay Westbrook cover their medical and living expenses as Nancy struggles with Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer.  Nancy was diagnosed on her birthday in December.  Jay is a hospice care nurse who was laid off last year.  Their friends were devastated and decided to take action and produce a Garden Party to raise funds and to celebrate Nancy’s life.   I didn’t know Jay and Nancy, but jumped in to be of service.  Last September, I had produced the Premiere Oncology Foundation’s Truth Be Told event and the night before the event, my beloved Mother-in-Law passed away of lung cancer.  Everyone has been touched by cancer.  I saw how much Nancy and Jay meant to my friends and how passionate they were to make a difference so I was thrilled to be on board for this event.  In the last month, I have been able to get to know Jay and Nancy and am inspired by their journey and how they are walking through this with grace and dignity.

Jay and Nancy Westbrook

The Garden Party event was be held at Miauhaus Studios, a cool photography studio in Hollywood on Sunday, April 29, 2012 from 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm.  The event included a silent auction, food/refreshments and a comedy show and celebrity appearances by Russell Brand, Ant Comic, Tammy Pescatelli,Janice Dickinson, Sarge, Aileen Quinn and more. Activate Drinks, Illy Issimo Coffee and Sokenbicha Tea sponsored this amazing event.  Ryan was excited to be on board as a sponsor for the event to create appetizers in the VIP Suite.  He then sent me a delicious menu of passed appetizers.  Russell Brand is vegan so Ryan tweaked the menu a bit. The vegan selections included golden beet salad with lemon-walnut emulsion and Babaganoush served with crispy pita chips.  The rest of the guests enjoyed smoked Mozzarella and sundried tomato salad, with Serrano ham, and melon compote on a crostini – simply delicious!

The highlight was my Louisiana favorite, crawfish and corn macque choux (pronounced "Mock Shoe") with fennel-onion jam!  Macque Choux is stewed corn and tomatoes and divine.  Add crawfish and it is double divine!  (See Chef Ryan's Recipe below)

Crawfish Maque Choux

I can’t begin to tell you how much of a hit these appetizers were.  My friend, Adriana Bate, who I met in New Orleans years ago and now lives in Los Angeles, came to volunteer with the registration.  When she arrived, I told her we had a New Orleans chef making crawfish corn macque choux in the kitchen, she said, “That is my all-time favorite dish at Commander’s Palace and go get some for me NOW!”  We all kept running to the kitchen throughout the afternoon to get another passed appetizer sized portion off the tray as Ryan patiently kept replenishing the tray for the waiter to pass in the VIP Suite.

Peggy & Chef Ryan Rondeno on the Red Carpet

Can I just say, there is nothing like a Louisiana chef to spice up a party menu!  It was such a treat to have Ryan on board and his personality, great smile and energy were "Lagniappe" as we say in Louisiana.  For those of you who aren’t familiar - Lagniappe (pronounced “Lan-yap”) means “a little bit extra” and saying it is almost as fun as experiencing it.  It always makes me smile!

Russell Brand & Tammy Pescatelli

Jimmy McDonald, Peggy, Actress - Aileen Quinn, 
& Travis McDowell - Activate Drink Sponsor

Ant Comic, Peggy & comedian,  Tammy Pescatelli

For donations or more information about, please check out the website.

For more information about Peggy Sweeney-McDonald & Superstar Events-LA go to
or call 310-709-2851

Chef Ryan Rondeno is available for events or private catering. He can be reached at  678-763-6627 and 

Chef Ryan's Crawfish Corn Macque Choux with Fennel Marmalade


4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions, small diced
1 large green bell pepper, small diced
1 red bell pepper, small diced
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 cups fresh corn kernels
2 Tbsp creole seasoning
16 oz Louisiana crawfish tails
1 ½ cups of heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste


In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onions and the bell peppers. Cook until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute.  Add the corn and two Tbsp of creole seasoning.  Cook and stir until soft, about 5 minutes.  On medium-high, add the heavy cream. Cook and stir until the heavy cream thickens about 4-5 minutes. Add the crawfish.  Cook just to heat the crawfish through.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Fennel-Onion Marmalade


1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, small diced
1 large fennel, small diced
1 cup sugar
1 cup of white balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Note: Use fennel frawns for garnishing the crawfish corn macque choux.


In a medium sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion, cook until soft for two minutes. Add fennel and cook another two minutes. Add sugar and vinegar.  Cook for 20 minutes or until marmalade thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Can substitute crawfish with shrimp or chicken.

Note: Ryan buys his crawfish in Los Angeles at the New Orleans Fish Market on Vernon.

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