Candice Kumai, aka the Stiletto Chef
This piece was originally posted September 1st, 2010
CHEFS: the new supermodels of our time. Mario, Bobby, Rachael, Giada… one name wonders, foodtainment, food tv madness, cookbook insanity!
It took quite a while after Julia hit the scene back in the 1970’s for the entertainment industry to really hone in on where our place lies on the map. But we’ve arrived and we’re here. You know, I have to say, five years ago on Top Chef’s premiere season, we really had no idea how incredibly powerful this new show was going to be. Now that show is another story, this story is about my life now.
Modeling: yes it was my life, from 1997 till now – fit, print, show, and yeah runway, but who’s going to claim that when you are LA based? Runway belongs to the gorgeous NY giraffes that I could never be. It just got old, I felt beneath myself, like a moron at times. Although I had purchased five brand spankin’ new cars by the time I was 23, I lived a life of mindless spending and BS, parties and travels galore; I wasn’t really truly satisfied nor happy. So after graduating college, I enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu, California school of culinary arts. Food was my love, my first real love. I instantly became a food nerd like you wouldn’t believe. I was studying to be on the Dean’s list and Top of the Class, and I was. I knew that this was something special. This was something that was true…. Eff’ modeling, this was real love.
During my last class in culinary school I was yoinked out to be cast on the premiere season of Top Chef (2005). I cooked on the line at Roys in downtown LA, and The Ritz Carlton Laguna Beach (2006) and I was swooped away to FL, to be a Host at HSN (yes, the Home Shopping Network, a fabulous casting director saw that “gift-o-gab.”) As I gabbed my way to the top of sales in 2007, sliced and diced with Mister Wolfgang and chatted with Todd English, my agent had called – Lifetime now wanted a piece of Candice. I was then cast as a Host in NYC for Lifetime’s “Cook Yourself Thin”, a British original that was a smash hit due to our incredible cookbook sales. We were a NY Times #1 Bestseller for weeks in June/July 2009. Which led me into my next project, a cookbook. Food writing and indulging in recipe developing had become a love that I never knew was in me. I had a gift of taking any disgusting, gluttonous, Americana food and making it healthy, fresh and delicious.
In 2009 I got my first solo cookbook deal with Rodale. A milestone in my career, it actually was the greatest opportunity that I have been given thus far. It was the biggest challenge of my life as well: 6 months, 125 recipes, 80 color shots, food photography, food styling, prop styling, recipe testing, graphics, layouts, colors, fonts…you really have no idea, no you don’t.
But this book (coming out this winter 2010/11) has become my love, it has made many friends and I am so so incredibly proud! I am now between Seattle, NYC and LA shooting a new TLC show and working on PR events for the cookbook, working on development of new projects and making guest appearances on Cooking Channels “Unique Eats”, recipe testing, writing, etc etc… I hope that I still find time to inspire. I want you to learn, love and grow… and as a friend once said, “you’re so great because you teach women how to cook wise, without thunder thighs.” I about died, but it has become an expertise, and well earned as a model turned chef. “Healthy Lifestyle Expert” is what I like to call it. Come here to learn, be inspired and grow. Make positive changes in your life, become the woman you know you can be, and cook yourself sexy… you totally can – you are TDF, remember that!
PS I just moved to NYC Sept 1st, this journey is going to be fabulous, an LA surfer girl in NYC?? yessss!
CHECK OUT THE RECIPE SECTION FOR GREAT FOODIE IDEAS! XXO