About Geraldine

Geraldine Gilliland, Chef, Author, Restaurateur, Malibu Weddings in Paradise

Geraldine Gilliland, Chef, Author, Restaurateur, Malibu Weddings in Paradise

Renowned chef, author, restaurateur and philanthropist, Geraldine Gilliland, arrived in Los Angeles from Northern Ireland in 1975, beginning her extraordinary career in the culinary industry. With multiple degrees in Classical French Cuisine and Home Economics, Geraldine has studied and worked with distinguished chefs from around the world.  Her culinary expertise encompasses an international diversity including Indian, Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, French and, of course, Contemporary California and Irish. Geraldine has been featured in the L.A. Times, Fine Cooking Magazine, and Bon Appetit named her “…one of the top six chefs in the United States”.  

Today, she owns two critically acclaimed and distinctively different restaurants on Main Street in Santa Monica, California: Lula Cocina Mexicana, a bold. bright and colorful cantina famous for its murals painted by artist Eloy Torrez, and Signature Lula Margaritas; and Finn McCool’s Irish Pub, boasting her late Father’s beautiful bar shipped painstakingly over from Ireland through the Panama Canal.

 In 1995, Geraldine and her late husband, Theodore Lonsway, built their dream home, Rancho Chiquita, nestled high in the Malibu Mountains.  Rancho Chiquita overlooks a spectacular panoramic ocean view and 250 acres of rolling hills, and is host to many Charity Fundraising Events, Weddings, Private Cooking Classes, and Film and Movie Shoots. An avid advocate on behalf of the protection and rehabilitation of animals, Geraldine shares her home with a multitude of Rescue Dogs.  She serves on the Advisory Board of several nonprofit organizations and has received numerous awards for her philanthropic and volunteer endeavors.  


  • 2005 to Present   An avid advocate on behalf of the protection and rehabilitation of abused and abandoned animals, Geraldine Gilliland began hosting spectacular Charity Fundraising Events at Rancho Chiquita on behalf of non-profit organizations.  To learn about upcoming charitable activities and events, please check out Geraldine’s BLOG and the “Animal Rescue” link 
  • 2002   Geraldine realized a life-long dream to recreate her fondest childhood memories of her dad’s bar in Ireland.  Piece by piece she shipped the original structure from Ireland through the Panama Canal to Santa Monica, California.  An Irish crew meticulously reconstructed the bar, and on St Patrick’s Day, 2002, she opened Finn McCool’s Irish Pub on Main Street.
  • 1997   Purchased the legendary Black Whale and opened the Washington Street Bar & Grill, indulging her passion for Santa Maria Style Grilling, and featuring food cooked over Red Oak wood from the Santa Ynez Valley. 
  • 1995   Co-authored Grills and Greens which was nominated for a James Beard Award and is available at; www.amazon.com.
  • 1994   Established Rancho Chiquita Events, LLC, providing distinctive and exceptional gourmet cuisine, and a superlative catering staff for special events and weddings.
  • 1993   Opened Jake and Annie’s, a popular American-Irish hot-spot in Santa Monica, California.
  • 1991   Opened Lula Cocina Mexicana on Main Street in Santa Monica, celebrating her love for the cuisine and culture of Mexico. The restaurant was named after her good friend and mentor, Lula Bertran, and renowned artist Eloy Torrez honored her with the murals exhibited on the walls.
  • 1985   Several discerning stores, including Bloomingdales, Dean & Deluca and Balducci’s began carrying and distributing many of Geraldine’s most popular gourmet foods.   
  • 1984   Opened her very first restaurant in California, Gilliland’s Café, to great critical and public acclaim.
  • 1977   Taught culinary courses at UCLA, Williams-Sonoma, Montana Mercantile, and the Bristol Farms Culinary School.  She augmented her own expertise in global regional cooking through her partnerships with distinguished chefs from all over the world.       
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