From collaborating to claims of copying – where did it all go wrong?
New Zealand baker Jordan Rondel has accused American TV personality Chrissy Teigen of copying her range of cake mixes after the pair collaborated on a product together earlier this year.
Better known as The Caker, Rondel started her baking brand more than a decade ago and has steadily gained an international following due to her range of easy and luxurious box mixes. She currently has over 75,000 followers across her Instagram platforms. It’s been a big year for Rondel, who as well as working with US celebrities and advancing her own business, appeared alongside chef Peter Gordon as one of the new judges on The Great Kiwi Bake Off.
“Sooo this has happened,” wrote Rondel In a post on Instagram this morning, sharing a photo of her own range of cake mixes alongside Teigen’s new “elevated baking mixes”.
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“I’ve taken a week to try to process everything and could say a lot more,” she said. “I think you guys are right that this particular situation isn’t chill, especially because we’re just a small sister run business.” She added that Teigen was “actually lovely to work with”.
It all started back in February this year, when Teigen, who has her own range of home and cookware, shouted out Rondel on social media. “@thecaker’s flourless chocolate cake is SOOOOO GOOD,” she said, posting a photo of her husband John Legend posed next to the bake.
Rondel told Stuff at the time that this was a “surreal” moment and said that “out of all the big-time celebrities that exist, she’s the one we’d want to notice us… It seems very natural.”
It appears that Teigen more than just noticed Rondel as a few months later, in September, the pair released a product together: a carrot cake kit. At the time of writing, the product is still available on The Caker’s website but is no longer listed as a collaboration with Teigen (although a photo of the two of them is used). On Teigen’s own website, the listing no longer exists at all.
Rondel explained to Stuff that it was a quick decision to work with Teigen on the product. “24 hours [after the shout-out] I was connected with her team,” Rondel said. “Within the next 24 hours after that, we were onto making a collaboration. It all happened pretty fast!”
It was only a few weeks later, on October 21, that Teigen announced her new baking mix range would be released under her Cravings brand. “We’ve made some of Chrissy’s favourite Cravings recipes into fun and easy baking mixes so you can get to the best part more quickly… eating,” a post on Instagram read.
It’s worth noting that Teigen’s products aren’t cake mixes, but rather include ingredients for things like banana bread and waffles. However, Rondel appears to be concerned by similarities between the imagery and fonts used by Teigen.
Rondel’s post about Teigen’s products has drawn hundreds of supportive comments from her fans. “You’re the real star rising,” wrote TV personality Colin Mathura-Jeffree. “I’m embarrassed for her lack of basic integrity and honour in this situation.” Another said it was “obvious” that Teigen had ripped off The Caker’s designs. “[Teigen] sucks. I support you The Caker and we can call her the FAKER.”
Rondel has also shared several Instagram stories with supportive comments from her fans.
Teigen has yet to acknowledge the claims. However, it’s not the first time she has been embroiled in drama with someone else from the food world. In 2020, American food writer Alison Roman accused Teigen of using her personal success to create a food empire, in comments that were seen as being tinged with racist undertones. “What Chrissy Teigen has done is so crazy to me,” she said. “She had a successful cookbook. And then it was like: Boom, line at Target. Boom, now she has an Instagram page that has over a million followers where it’s just, like, people running a content farm for her.”
Rondel told The Spinoff she didn’t want this to become a “dramatic witch hunt” and reiterated that Teigen had been “incredibly lovely” when they had worked together. “I think this is a case of her team taking way too much inspiration from me and hopefully Chrissy just being too busy to do anything about it,” Rondel said.
“I knew she was going to release a line of baking mixes… so the line wasn’t a shock but the packaging has really gotten my customers and fans riled up.”
She added: “Amongst the stresses of trying everyday to do what we do best, a business with a lot more power and resources taking such heavy inspiration from us when all we got from them after working on this collaboration for so long was a ‘one month only’ deal… [it was] a bit disheartening.”
This story was updated at 11.35am with comments from Jordan Rondel.