Episode 256: Laurette Rondenet

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Laurette Rondenet, President and CEO of Edlong Corporation and host of the Owning Your Legacy podcast, is certainly worthy of the spotlight today as we continue to celebrate strong female leaders on The Produce Moms Podcast!

The youngest of seven children, Laurette always loved science, learning about the family business at a young age and knowing that eventually, she wanted to work there. After earning a Food and Business degree from Purdue, her first job was with the iconic Ball Corporation, making recipes for the Ball Blue Book and helping farmers with their canning.

Although it was initially assumed that it would be her older brother who would follow in their father’s footsteps as a master flavorist at Edlong, Laurette didn’t hesitate to return to Chicago when she received the call to join the family business. She started in a technical sales role that she created, acting as a liaison between the application lab and its flavorists, and the sales team. When the company was hit with financial difficulties, she and her father became true partners, turning the company around within 18 months and changing the company culture in the process.

“We are the secret ingredient.” Laurette Rondenet (19:58-19:59)

It was at this time that Edlong became focused on dairy and “non-dairy dairy flavors.” You might find Edlong has had a hand in the flavors of the dips, salad dressings and juices found in your store’s produce section, in vegan cheeses, or in crackers that have the authentic taste of a flavorful cheddar – even though that ingredient can’t actually withstand the high heat of the baking process. 

Edlong also works with the Culinary Institute of America, teaching chefs how to make commercially viable food that tastes like the chef’s version: taking a gold standard dish made with cream and butter, and then decreasing those commodities, adding flavor, and arriving at something that matches or outshines the gold standard. 

Like a chef who works to balance all the components and flavors in a masterful dish, Edlong helps companies achieve the perfect balance of taste, mouthfeel, nutrition, cost, and more. In essence, they are using their breadth of expertise to drive the plant-based category forward, making healthier foods taste better while taking none of the credit!

“It’s a heartwarming mission: ‘to enrich the lives of everyone we touch.’ ” Lori Taylor (21:56-22:01)

Edlong’s mission statement is “Edlong enriches,” which applies both inside and outside of the company: by enriching the lives of their employees; of their customers, by helping their products to truly shine; and of others in the community, through support of non-profit organizations and initiatives. 

Bringing awareness to the industry is one of Laurette’s passions, along with supporting young women. Statistics show that when girls are young, they believe they can do everything a boy can do, better. Sometime around the sixth grade, that confidence level drops: only about half of girls ages 11-16 believe girls and boys can achieve the same level of success in their careers. (The number drops further after age 16.) To help young girls retain that confidence as they enter the business world, Laurette is on the board for Female Strong, whose Chicago chapter has a Young Entrepreneurs Academy and Entrepreneurship Program just for girls, starting in sixth grade. Laurette’s father passed away in 2007, but Edlong continues to evolve and flourish. Understanding that he would want her to fully own her part in that success was an emotional, soul searching process that led to Laurette writing a book. She then launched a podcast to amplify her personal brand ahead of the book’s launch, but also to embrace an opportunity to be a beacon of light for the food industry: collaborating with thought leaders on mentorship, circles of trust, adding value, and creating legacies with intentionality.

The Owning Your Legacy podcast walks its audience through many different pillars of owning or building a legacy, and the journey of female leadership in the business world and in society at large. In each episode the question is asked: what’s your legacy that you want to leave behind? 

Christie Hefner will be featured in an upcoming episode; Michael Byron was one of Lori’s favorite guests from the podcast. If you have any guest recommendations for Laura, you can contact her through her website, LauretteRondenet.com!

How to get involved

  • Join The Produce Moms Group on Facebook and continue the discussion every week! 
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About Lori

Lori Taylor is the Founder & CEO of The Produce Moms. For ten years she sold fresh produce to over 300 grocery stores throughout the United States, and today she is fully focused on working with the produce supply chain, media, and government to increase fresh produce access & consumption in the US and around the globe. Connect with Lori on LinkedIn.

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