20th Annual Deli Changemakers Award Winner: Ronda Brittian

Chief Executive/Founder
Ronda’s Fine Foods
Petaluma, CA

Q. Can you tell us a bit about your upbringing and how it has shaped you?

I grew up in an incredibly loving, close-knit home, rich in cultural and familial traditions. We celebrated every occasion in a big way, and our home was central to food-centric festivities. My mom’s parents were Mexican, so we had the traditional salsas, always a pot of beans simmering along with delicious tamales for the holidays. My dad’s side of the family were country folks, so homemade bread, jams, the pineapple coconut cake and fried chicken. The strong emotional associations with certain dishes and flavors helped me develop an appreciation for culinary traditions and how they connect us to our ancestors. As I grew older, I recognized the importance of preserving and passing down these traditions to my own family.

Q. What were some of the pivotal moments in your early life that led you to where you are today?

Watching my parents and grandparents prepare for our family celebrations with such love and attention helped shape me into someone who values connection, hospitality and preserving heritage through food. Once I had children, this was especially important, as this is how I kept, and continue to keep, my parents and grandparents “alive” through the foods we eat.

My father was very entrepreneurial and founded several companies throughout his life. Plus, he LOVED to cook! Growing up around someone with such a passionate entrepreneurial spirit, inspired me at a young age to dream of possibilities.

Another important pivotal moment, was meeting my fiancée and business partner, Steve, 6 years ago. I was working as a nurse, but my passion for culinary was important to me. Steve had been in the food industry for 35-plus years, and once I started cooking for him, he asked if I had ever thought about starting a food company based on my family recipes. Steve gave me the courage to pursue this dream and has helped guide this ship every step of the way.

Q. How has your career evolved over the years?

There has been quite an evolution over the years in my career. I was a stay-at-home mom for most of my younger years, and while raising three children, everything revolved around food and gardening. My kids grew up in the kitchen, and I taught them at a young age how to use a knife, how to prepare simple meals, and we planted different vegetables in the garden.

I went through a divorce and had to go to work outside the home. I worked for close to a decade as a neuro-trauma nurse. Food was always the way I connected with my patients.

I met Steve, and he took me to my first Fancy Food Show, and this helped cultivate my dream of starting our brand. I left nursing in 2021 to focus full time on Ronda’s Fine Foods, and the rest is history.

Q. What is the best advice you ever received and why?

Don’t overthink it! A person can spend so much time thinking or perfecting an idea, that we don’t ever begin. I feel this is rooted in fear of failure. We feel we must have it all figured out from the start, and that is just not true. You can always go back to refine, but most first iterations of products, websites or marketing materials are never the final, final so just start by taking that first step!

Q. How do you balance your work and personal life?

Steve and I always remember that we fell in love first and cultivating our relationship with each other and our families is a top priority. Maintaining a balance between our personal and professional lives is crucial to our happiness. Communication is at the root of us setting clear boundaries, designating specific work hours, and carving out personal time for us as a couple and individually is important.

Q. What deli retail trends have impacted the industry most over the last year?

In the last year, there has been a significant trend toward consumers seeking internationally-inspired flavors, especially Mediterranean cuisine. Consumers have developed what I like to describe as a more adventurous palate, and they are looking for elevated convenience meal solutions that don’t sacrifice flavor or quality.

Q. What book, movie, or event has recently impacted you personally or professionally?

As someone who is passionate about personal growth and mental well-being, I gravitate toward these topics in both reading and research. Through my studies, I’ve delved into the recent evolution of psychedelic-assisted therapy, recognizing its potential to revolutionize mental health treatment. Exploring this emerging field has deepened my understanding of the interconnectedness between mind, body, and spirit in achieving holistic wellness.

Q. What hobbies do you enjoy outside of work?

I love to be in nature, especially amongst the beautiful redwood trees! We have a RV, and we really enjoy exploring state parks and campgrounds. Hiking and cycling are also high on the list. One of my favorite ways to unwind is to cook or read a great book.


Sign up to get the latest news in retail deli, including prepared foods, foodservice and specialty cheese markets from Deli Business Magazine...

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.