Kiwi cake queen Jordan Rondel is a woman with many strings to her bow – baker extraordinaire, savvy businesswoman, Instagram guru and now primetime TV star.
"I have to pinch myself sometimes," she says, speaking from her sunny Auckland office. "I absolutely love the path I'm on. It all feels pretty magical right now."
Los Angeles-based Jordan has just wrapped three weeks filming The Great Kiwi Bake Off on which she and fellow new judge Peter Gordon seek out this country's best home bakers. While the 33-year-old is no stranger to the limelight thanks to her cult brand The Caker, this was her first TV gig and it's lit a passion for the small screen.
She can't wait for the show to air on TVNZ 1 later this year.
"I genuinely loved being in front of the camera," Jordan gushes.
"It felt really natural. I felt confident and totally in my element, and working with Peter was amazing. He's my new favourite person."
When we catch up with Jordan, it's her final day in Aotearoa before she flies back to LA, a place she's called home since late 2019, when she and sister Anouk, 29, launched their cake brand Stateside. It's been a rollercoaster ride for the pair, who were not banking on a global pandemic just months after they touched down.
"Yeah, it was impeccable timing," she laughs, still amazed they managed to make it work despite Tinseltown locking down just as they were hoping to open a flagship bakery. "We had to think pretty fast on our feet and pivot.
"All weddings and events were cancelled, so we had to quickly hit go on our cake kits instead of launching our fresh cakes first, which we'd planned. We had a year of no income, which was pretty stressful, but we made it work and our kits have been so well received."
Hollywood suits this glamorous go-getter, who has forged relationships with some of its biggest stars. She recently sealed the deal on an exciting collaboration with former supermodel Chrissy Teigen, who contacted her via Instagram after falling in love with her cakes.
"She said she's obsessed with everything The Caker does," says Jordan. "From there, she connected me with her team to start working on a collaboration cake kit. It'll be released later this year in America and I'm beyond excited.
"She's the perfect celebrity to be partnering with on this because she's already in food and outwardly supports small business."
Building a business in LA is all about connections, says Jordan, who has had social media shoutouts from some of Hollywood's biggest names, including Jennifer Aniston and Joaquin Phoenix.
Just weeks after arriving in California, Jordan was thrilled to be asked to make a wedding cake for Red Hot Chili Peppers rocker Flea and his fashion designer wife Melody Ehsani.
She tells, "They wanted sugar-free, gluten-free, basically everything-free cake and they'd been struggling to find anyone who could do that. We were like, 'Let's go!' We gave them a tasting and they said yes straightaway."
Setting up at the celebrity wedding was an amazing experience, recalls Jordan. "Lauryn Hill was performing right behind me, Anthony Kiedis was there too and it was all pretty surreal."
Now, with Jordan set to make her screen debut on Bake Off, she hopes Kiwis will enjoy the show as much as she did.
As well as finding our most talented bakers, she also loved putting together her edgy outfits. "I like to be pretty out-there. I love leather, latex and anything that makes me stand out."
Jordan laughs as she says some of the outfits she brought back from LA for the show had to stay firmly in her suitcase.
"I realised some were a bit raunchy and that I needed to be more family-friendly!"
While Jordan misses Aotearoa, having her sister by her side makes everything easier as they grow their US business. "I'm only half a person without her," she says. "We're very different people personality-wise, but we balance each other out in the best way. My thoughts are a bit scattered without her. We mind-read each other."
Jordan is excited to have recently signed with an LA agent and hopes to land some more TV work. "I love being able to flex the creative part of my brain. It's been a really fun journey marketing my own brand. It's not just cakes – it's a little ecosystem and I'd love to add more TV to that."
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