STYLE Insider: The Caker, Jordan Rondel Talks Food Heroes, Architecture and Vintage Shorts

Photography by Emma Bassill

Since opening The Caker over a decade ago, Jordan Rondel’s beautifully-decorated desserts have quickly taken over our Insta feeds and garnered her a cult following. Now based in LA, we talk to the cake queen about culinary lessons, food heroes and her love for vintage leather shorts. 

My earliest memory of baking… was making gooseberry jam in Paris with my pappy which was then used in a tart I helped my granny make. I think I was about 5 years old, but I still remember the happiness I felt when I watched the tart come out of the oven, all golden and smelling like heaven.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be… an architect or an interior designer. My dad is an industrial engineer and I have always been incredibly inspired by architectural design and furniture. I’m someone who is really affected by my surroundings and I’ve always taken huge pride in the look and feel of my home and work space.

Photography by Karen Inderbitzen Waller

A kitchen rule I tend to break… It’s not a rule I like to break, but it’s one I do – I have beautiful German chefs knives but they are always blunt because I never take the time to get them sharpened. I will use this interview as a reminder to do that!

The best culinary lesson I’ve learned is… how to season perfectly. It’s taken me years to get this right, but I think I have it down to a fine art now.

My food heroes are… my grandparents. When I think of their cooking I think of pure comfort. Everything they create is made with the most tender touch and each ingredient has been thoughtfully selected, but somehow each dish comes together in the most carefree way, which lets the ingredients sing.

Credit: Emma Bassill

The last piece of clothing I bought was… a pair of vintage leather shorts.

I would describe my style as… casual post-wave on some days / LA biker chic on other days, which I think sums it up quite well.

My favourite pick-me-up… a large glass of wine!

The best book I read recently was… Everything Is Under Control: A Memoir with Recipes by Grant, Phyllis.

The song I have on repeat right now is… Crimson & Clover by Tommy James & The Shondells.

Source: Macmillan Publishers

The biggest lesson I’ve learnt lately is… to slow down. I’m always rushing and always carrying a million things, which in turn means often dropping things. Slowing down and doing each task with more care and precision has really helped me lately.

If I didn’t live in Los Angeles… I always thought I’d live in New York – but I like it here!

My most cherished possession is… my great grandmother’s one-of-a-kind diamond ring, which I wear every day.

STYLE Insider: Nook’s Jordan MacDonald Talks Hospitality Empires, Cookbooks and Dream Dinner Guests

From Culprit, to Lowbrow, Little Culprit and now Nook the Restauranteur duo Jordan MacDonald and Kyle Street are taking over Auckland’s restaurant scene. We caught up with MacDonald, chef and co-owner to hear about his new eatery, culinary lessons and dream dinner guests. 

If I had to describe myself in two sentences… I’m foremost a dad to two beautiful girls while also being a chef and restauranteur. I’m passionate about hospitality, love cooking and being creative.

Nook is… Something I’ve personally wanted to do for a long time. It’s quirky, cool and unique. In that way it’s similar to our other spots as we love a quirky unique vibe. Nook is based around Yakitori and has an Izakaya late night drinking vibe to it, which is worlds apart from the style of food at Lowbrow and Culprit. Our style of yakitori is different to others you find in Auckland, we do our best to make everything in house, bold flavours with our signature twist and saucey. My fiancé is always going on about sauce I guess she’s drilled that into me.

In the future, you can expect me doing… Nothing for a while. Time to sit on our hands and focus on my babies I’ve got now, my two girls and the other 5 restaurant babies.

A kitchen rule I always break… Never season your meat too early. I always season my meat early and its always delicious

A kitchen rule I would never break… Don’t run with knives.

My go-to dish at the end of a long day… Takeaways from Lowbrow. But if I’m being sensible and cooking it’ll be pork larb and then a second meal for my daughter who’s somewhat fussy and that’ll be either chicken schnitzel or lasagne.

The best culinary lesson I’ve learned is… Taste taste taste. Season season season.

In five years I see myself… With a couple more restaurants, maybe another child but definitely with my gorgeous family and hopefully have the ability to be at home a bit more.

A song I have on repeat right now… Tide up right now by Parcels

Books or podcasts… No time for novels unfortunately, but cookbooks are my jam.

One thing I can’t put down… I have a huge collection of cookbooks, the latest one is A Very Serious Cook Book from the guys at Contra / Wildair, it’s such a good read.

A Very Serious Cook Book: Contra Wildair, credit: Phaidon

If I could have dinner with any person on earth, it would be… Matty Matheson. That would be an indulgent, entertaining and interesting meal.

My favourite place to dine in New Zealand… Apero and Cazador.

My go-to coffee spot is… Red rabbit roasters in Parnell. Everyday.

When I was a kid I wanted to be… A chef, glad that one worked itself out.  


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