Photo courtesy of Kyle Jackson
Candice Kumai has held almost every job possible in the food world. The author of six books has been a line cook, a food editor, a contestant on Top Chef, and a judge on Iron Chef, and last year, she taught Selena Gomez how to cook ramen on the singer’s quarantine cooking show. Kumai’s food career started at age five, she says, when she first visited her grandparents in Japan. “We had miso soup for breakfast—and my head basically exploded,” says Kumai. “My baachan, which is grandmother in Japanese, taught my sister and I how to cook washoku, traditional Japanese food, at home. It’s not fancy food, but it is certainly delicious and simple and very clean.”
Photo courtesy of Julia Liebowitz
Kumai kept her family’s legacy, values, and recipes close as she navigated first culinary school and then the male-dominated food world. “I stayed mindful, and I was graceful,” she says. “I had this Scottie Pippen mentality of never getting paid what I was actually worth but knowing how innately talented I was deep inside. And that the right people at the right time would find me and say, ‘It’s your time—go ride this wave right now because you’ve earned it.’”
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