A Goop-famous lifestyle influencer and writer who was once married to the scion of the Hoover vacuum cleaner fortune has been accused of conning a major investor about the inner workings of her buzzy meal-delivery startup, claiming to be doing gangbusters business when in fact the exact opposite was true.
Tatiana Boncompagni—author of the novel Hedge Fund Wives, which prompted legal action by the Minnesota native’s sister, who also claimed credit for the work—brazenly misrepresented Eat Sunny’s sales and overall financial health, convincing the co-owner of the Shoprite supermarket chain to sink six-figures into a venture she secretly knew was a “loser,” according to a bitter lawsuit filed by the investor and obtained by The Daily Beast.
In it, John Sumas, whose family also owns Fairway Market and Gourmet Garage, describes Boncompagni, 45, as an “incompetent” CEO who “would do and say anything… to get what she wanted.” And, the lawsuit contends, after Sumas, 74, bought 30 percent of Eat Sunny in June 2022, it quickly became clear that “nothing about what Ms. Boncompagni said about [the] business was true.”
Boncompagni’s “laziness and lack of experience,” combined with an apparent unwillingness to do mundane tasks, added up to no less than a “total abdication of her duties,” according to the suit, which claims, among other things, that Boncompagni “believed inventory management was beneath her.” It says this led to at least one episode involving a batch of chicken enchiladas unnecessarily going to waste, costing thousands in lost sales.
“A little more than a year later… Ms. Boncompagni’s charade unraveled,” the lawsuit states.
Today, it says, Eat Sunny has cash on hand “at or near $0.”
Sumas’ suit accuses Boncompagni of fraud, fraudulent inducement, breach of operating agreement, and breach of fiduciary duty. He and his company, Fire Brands Innovation LLC, are now seeking punitive damages along with the dissolution of Eat Sunny. Or, as the lawsuit puts it, “the company that it was fraudulently induced to invest in by Ms. Boncompagni.”
Reached for comment on Friday, Boncompagni referred The Daily Beast to her attorney, Richard Roth, who called the suit “outrageous” and the accusations “outlandish.”
Boncompagni had previously accused Sumas of discrimination and retaliation over an allegedly inappropriate incident that occurred while they were working together, according to Roth, putting Sumas, various top executives at his company, and the investment banker who connected them, “on notice” about what had happened. After that, things went bad, Roth said.
“We have been trying to negotiate to resolve this matter, short of litigation, and instead of working it out in good faith, they engaged in an additional act of retaliation by suing [Boncompagni] for frivolous and unsupportable claims,” Roth told The Daily Beast.
Sumas’ attorneys, Christopher Porrino—former New Jersey Attorney General and chief counsel to ex-Gov. Chris Christie—and Michael Kaplan did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Friday.
The acrimony between Boncompagni and Sumas can be traced back to February 2022, when the two met through an investment banker intermediary, according to the suit.
It sneeringly calls Boncompagni a “New York-based writer focusing on pop culture matters” who, “despite her lack of experience in business and the food industry… entered the food business in 2019 based on the idea that she could parlay her modest social media following into a customer base for pre-packed meals following a so-called ‘Mediterranean diet.’” (Boncompagni, a certified holistic health coach and personal trainer, has nearly 22,000 followers on Instagram, has written for The New York Times about pricey facelifts,, and worked as a freelance reporter for The Wall Street Journal after graduating from Georgetown.)
At the time Sumas met Boncompagni, Eat Sunny was selling prepackaged meals online. However, Boncompagni had designs on getting Eat Sunny into supermarkets and gourmet stores, according to the lawsuit. To do this, she would need a partner who knew that world, it states.
After a second meeting in March 2022, during which Boncompagni wowed Sumas with overwhelmingly successful sales figures, Sumas’ Fire Brands Innovation invested $400,000. The delivery model, which Boncompagni told Sumas was booming, would anchor the brand, with retail “providing supplemental income,” she assured him, according to the suit.
Yet, Sumas alleges Boncompagni had in fact already determined her business plan to be a dog, and wanted to “pivot” to a new one without risking any of her own cash, according to the lawsuit.
“Within mere months of those dinner meetings it became clear to Fire Brands and Mr. Sumas that nothing about what Ms. Boncompagni said about Eat Sunny’s direct-to-consumer business was true,” the lawsuit claims. “In September 2022, after Fire Brands had just completed its investment in Eat Sunny, a disturbing pattern emerged. Eat Sunny’s direct-to-consumer revenues were declining monthly, like clockwork.”
Not only had sales dropped precipitously, the lawsuit says a review by Sumas’ accountant of Eat Sunny’s books showed gross margins “materially lower” than Boncompagni had claimed. Further, Sumas alleges, Eat Sunny had manipulated its 2021 financials to show additional profits.
Boncompagni nevertheless began to steer the company “full speed into a retail launch,” it goes on. “With Eat Sunny burning through cash—in large part due to the six-figure salary it was paying to Ms. Boncompagni—it became clear that the success of Eat Sunny’s retail launch would be essential to the company’s survival.”
With a push to get Eat Sunny into stores, but without having yet developed a product suitable for retail, Sumas says he called in an army of experts to help.
A public relations firm was hired to increase brand visibility and Sumas introduced Boncompagni to people who could help her come up with retail products, including a line of salad dressings, according to the suit. He offered to open an “Eat Sunny café” at a Fairway Market on the Upper West Side, and to designate certain foods in the store as “Eat Sunny approved,” the suit states.
In the meantime, Sumas says he got Eat Sunny-branded sandwiches into concession stands at the 2022 U.S. Open, which the lawsuit calls “a highly coveted promotional opportunity.” In April 2023, Eat Sunny launched in 17 stores owned by Sumas.
Simultaneously, Eat Sunny’s direct-to-consumer arm continued to nosedive, according to Sumas.
“Those declines—and the failure of the retail segment that soon followed— are the result of Ms. Boncompagni’s total abdication of her duties as Eat Sunny’s CEO,” the lawsuit states, claiming that by the summer of 2023, Boncompagni “stopped paying attention to Eat Sunny altogether.”
The ruined lot of chicken enchiladas came about because she neglected to order the proper trays, expecting others to keep track of inventory, according to the suit. Boncompagni “frequently ignored emails,” and skipped calls, leading to empty shelves, unfulfilled orders, and damaged relationships with key suppliers, the suit claims. Sumas says in the suit that he was the only investor to dump so much into Eat Sunny, claiming no one else put in more than $10,000.
In July, Boncompagni told Sumas she wanted out, according to the suit. The following month, it says Sumas got a surprise letter from Boncompagni’s lawyers.
“In the letter, Ms. Boncompagni revealed, for the first time, meritless assertions that Mr. Sumas [and his businesses] had somehow not devoted enough of their attention to Eat Sunny,” the lawsuit asserts. “Ms. Boncompagni’s theory for this incorrect assertion was even more bizarre than the claim itself—she alleged that Eat Sunny was mistreated because she had declined a dinner invitation from Mr. Sumas back in the fall of 2022.”
Sumas alleges in the suit that Boncompagni demanded he buy out her 70 percent interest in Eat Sunny “at a fantastical valuation or she would go public with bogus allegations of harassment” against him. (Sumas’ lawsuit does not provide further details of his allegedly inappropriate invitation. However, it insists the two “had dined on other occasions to discuss business matters… without issue.”)
The lawsuit says Sumas “rejected Ms. Boncompagni’s threatened extortion,” and instead proposed she buy out his 30 percent, an idea she rejected, according to the suit.
In addition to ordering a bankrupt Eat Sunny to be wound down, Sumas wants his $400,000 back plus “all other possible damages, including punitives… that Ms. Boncompagni took and wasted.”
Roth, Boncompagni’s lawyer, still believes the entire matter should have been resolved behind closed doors.
Instead, he told The Daily Beast, “They sued her for outlandish claims.”