Jordan Rondel, better known as The Caker—has taken the Auckland baking scene by storm. From humble beginnings her kitchen produces hundreds of cakes a week and offers baking kits available in NZ, Australia and most recently, the States.
We caught up with Rondel to find out how she went from making cakes at home to running a cake empire with plans for world domination—all by age 30.
What’s your earliest baking memory?
Baking a peach and nectarine tart with my grandfather in Paris, when I was probably about five years old.
What lead you to start your own cake business?
I have always been obsessed with baking, particularly cakes. I would get home from school and push the homework aside, and just bake cakes. So it’s one of those cheesy stories where my die-hard passion lead me to my career. I didn’t even really intend it to become a business in the very beginning. It started as a blog where I would share my recipes, but very quickly people started asking to order cakes and it grew very naturally from there.
What do you most love about it?
Being my own boss. The freedom of creativity is the best part about running my own show.
And the least?
Also being my own boss! I go through phases of not sleeping because the pressure of being my own boss is too much.
How did you initially get off the ground?
I started my blog in 2010, which became a vehicle for selling cakes. But I was baking from home at this point, which quickly became apparent wasn’t sustainable and as the orders grew and grew I knew I needed a commercial kitchen to bake from. I quit my part-time job, and I began to rent the little kitchen out the back of Eighthirty on K’rd. In the two years I baked from there I developed my brand, built a solid customer base, published a recipe book, and learnt that I LOVED being The Caker. From there I took a lease out on my own kitchen, also on K’rd, and then three years ago rented another, much bigger space just up a road. It’s almost 10 years in now, we are a team of 14, and the rest is history.
Who are you most inspired by right now?
Currently I’m travelling (LA, London and Berlin) and I’m inspired by so many I people I meet / see on a daily basis. I’m inspired by people’s personal style, the art they’re making, or the music they’re producing. Right now I guess I’m inspired by people in any creative field, it doesn’t have to be baking or food.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs following in your footsteps?
I would tell people that stress is an inevitable part of being an entrepreneur, but to embrace that stress, because it can actually be good for you. It helps you get things done! Also don’t feel guilty about not being able to find a ‘balanced’ lifestyle. This didn’t exist for me for a long time, and I eventually gave up striving for it.
What’s the biggest ‘fuck yeah’ moment of your career so far?
There’s been a few great moments, but Pamela Anderson eating and loving a cake that my friend had made from one of my cake kits definitely got me pretty excited.
What trends in baking do you love/loathe?
I love cakes which look like you just want to jump in and eat them because they are dripping with sauces, fruit and lashings of creamy icing. The ‘rustic / home made’ cake trend is what I’m all about. I dislike cakes which are covered with fondant, doused with food colouring and just look too ‘perfect’ to eat.
What’s the one piece of kitchen equipment you can’t live without?
My Kenwood kMix machines—the best electric stand mixer on the planet.
What’s your dream for your future?
To have The Caker set up and thriving in Los Angeles, and then New York, and to have our baking kits stocked all over the world.
The one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
My parents don’t really cook, and they certainly don’t bake. Neither of them are particularly foodie types, unlike my grandparents, so it’s almost like the love for being in a kitchen skipped a generation.
If you could have any super power what would you have?
To be able to predict the future.
What music do you love to bake to?
It varies a lot, but at the moment it’s a lot of New Order, Interpol, TV on The Radio, Metronomy, Daft Punk...
Your favourite café to visit the morning after?
If you were a cake flavour, what flavour would you be?
Almond butter and Raspberry cake—it’s kind of the underdog on our menu, but I like that it’s a bit different. It’s light and not too sweet, yet has a kick from the tart raspberries and a generous creamy layer of almond butter icing to tie it all together.
Image credit: James Lowe