Connect with us


POP INTERVIEW: E! Reality Star Candice Kumai

Candice Kumai was the token “hot girl” on Top Chef years ago. The chef and cookbook author is back on television with her new reality show, Playing With Fire.



Candice Kumai was the token “hot girl” on Top Chef years ago. The chef and cookbook author is back on television with her new reality show, Playing With Fire.

Candice Kumai

You were on the very first season of “Top Chef.” Which seems like 100 years ago but it was really 2006. As the show progresses, who have you found yourself rooting for over the years, and who made you want to throw squash at the TV set? Or, say it was not anyone in particular. Maybe not a person but something they did well or poorly?
Sadly, I do not have time to catch as much tv these days, as I am very imbued on my own food writing/publishing/tv etc. Yes we shot Top Chef season One in 2005. I am still fond of/root for many of my friends/collagues from the series; Harold Dieterle, Hung Huynh, Richard Blais and Fabio Viviani, etc. Their incredible hard work, along with their uncanny work ethic and ability to stay positive and focused throughout their packed schedules. That’s why I love them. Regarding others in food that I look up to, I’m a fan of Amanda Freitag, Marco Canora, Elizabeth Falkner, Takashi Yagihashi, Dan Kluger, to name few of many, I admire.

You’re really into promoting made from scratch foods sans preservatives. What is your pet peeve additive in food that people don’t know about?
I’m not a fan of over-processed, chemical-laden, lab-tested “foods.” Over-marketed/highly-advertised products promise bogus results. I’m about keeping it real. Sadly, advertisers continuously mislead lead individuals down a path of failure; To drop the excess “jiggle”? You simply need to eat real foods again and exercise for maintenance, that’s it. From the soil, a tree, the roots? It’s good for you. We all know that bananas, apples and oranges can’t speak for themselves, hook up that avocado and be it’s biggest fan. Go down the path of nature, not trends, fads or advertising.

What got you into organic produce and makeup?
Growing up with a beautiful Japanese-born Mother, and a Father who was raised on a farm, they were organically influential. It doesn’t get more real than that. Eating well and having a positive outlook on my health and mental wellness is in my culture and heritage. I don’t necessarily promote eating organic as much as clean and simply real.

I do love my beauty products. I was a host at HSN (yes, the Home Shopping Network at 25 years old.) Which may have added to my organic fascination of all things beauty. Lately, I have built up an obsession with coconut oil. I tend to indulge, use it as body lotion, cook with it, developing lots of new recipes with coconut oil etc. The MCFA’s (medium chain fatty acids) are easy for the body to breakdown and metabolize, so it does a body, real-good. Also proving not all saturated fats are created equal. I have found myself slathering it all over my legs and face. I have to find a way to preserve this moneymaker without all dousing it up with chemicals. Body brushing is another great beauty habit, making homemade sugar-scrubs, face masks (like my “Pampered Pantry” in my book Pretty Delicious) has become a hobby of sorts.

Plus, my sister is a Berkley-hippie-granola-grad. She has really helped me to be a positive influence in making more sustainable choices.

I believe in eating well to maintain beauty; beautiful starts from the inside.

Also, you used to surf. Awesome! What are some outstanding surfing-based exercises we can do at home? And how can someone learn to surf without an expensive weekly training camp? Secondly, what are some foods you love that were first introduced to you by fellow surfers?
Dude, why yes. Proudly. I still catch a glimpse of the surf when I fly back to LA, SD, Hawaii etc. Painful bliss.

Some surfing – based exercises that can be done at home? I mean just keeping a strong core and upper body is key. Yoga and Bar Method are my favorite and most zen exercises. I wouldn’t say you can compare either to surfing? Perhaps watching some old surf flicks, like Taylor Steele’s “Good Times or “Riding Giants”, those may keep you pumped on your next trip to San Diego or Santa Barbara, but I’m not prepared to surf in the murky East cost just yet. I prefer warm-water/California surfing. There’s also massive regression in skills once you leave CA. That, yes, that is happening.

You wrote a second blog post about why you embrace being single. In it, you mention an article called, “This Is Why You’re Single.” (NOTE: Major yuck to whoever wrote that original one you rebelled against. People are single because they haven’t met the one or choose to be!) If you met your “one” tomorrow, what qualities would you look for in someone? What would you cook for that person to seal the deal?
Thank you, that post is one of my most read, ever. I’m quite peculiar about who I date…I’m just looking for someone who can be my partner for life. Open, honest, passionate about life, hard-working, charming, brilliant, fun, adventurous, hilarious and confident. It’s a bonus if he’s physically fit, tall and happens to love food and travel as much as I do. Does he exist? He must.

Food can be about trying to fit in, like high school. The best chefs, like my favorite chef in the entire universe, Mr. Emeril Lagasse, become iconic when they are true to themselves. You become irreplaceable. So, now, please tell us, what is your personally developed recipe truest to your spirit, and how do you see yourself leading your life from “the cute girl from Top Chef” to undeniably, forever a culinary legend?
I can definitely say, I have always just been, Candice, and nothing more. Through all of my writing, books, recipes, magazine interviews, tv shows etc. I’m just being myself. I’m a true, passionate Japanese-American girl, who’s a big food-geek, with the intent to help other’s improve their lives through good-food, nothing more. The universe will have its own way in regards to whom will become “iconic/irreplaceable” in the world of food. It will never be up to me to coin or claim my time. However, I’m truly confident I’m on a great path. I’m running a long marathon. I’m surrounded by like-minded, hard-working, brilliant individuals who all believe in my work/future endeavors. And in this lifetime, it is all about hard work, focus and synergy with those like-minded individuals. I truly look forward to what the future holds.

Ever since it came on in the original Japanese edition, I’ve loved “Iron Chef.” What is it like being there? Are you supposed to be really mean and over dramatic? Every guest chef on there, either the ones cooking or the judges gets into this awesome critical mode. What do you do as a judge that isn’t seen on camera or perhaps the camera doesn’t properly reflect 100 percent?
Isn’t it such an incredible series? With 10 seasons-deep, it’s as strong as ever. Such a well executed show. It’s definitely not over-dramatic. Quite the opposite, actually. It’s the greatest pleasure in my career to be a part of that show. Everyone from the crew to the Iron chefs, Sous Chefs and Challenging chefs are really truly having a great time because we are all doing what we are passionate about. It is my greatest honour to judge on Iron Chef America, and I judge from my honest and open palette and heart. There’s really nothing quite like that table, all of the Iron Chefs are badasses and I owe my colleague and fellow judging mentor, Simon Majumdar all my thanks for being on the series.

Do tell about your projects. What’s going on for you this year, and what is going to happen with your exciting new show?
Well, there’s a plethora of new irons in the fire, although, I have to be that lame person and say “I can’t really talk about it.” There are a million and one projects coming up that will dazzle, excite, delight and entertain you. You’ll just have to wait and tweet me @CandiceKumai or go to for more updates! I can promise this, unless it is a passion project/collab/show, from my heart, I won’t place my name on to the project. I still, and always will work with a very gold-standard. My future of endeavors is absolutely infinite. So thus, more books, shows, magazines, and more, are all in the works 😉 Wink and a smile xx ck

*****Watch her new show on E! every Friday at 8 pm EST!


What’s Brian Tryin’? The Crispy Sandwich Maker by Apod!



This weekend I tried out a new product that’s been crowdsourcing on IndieGogo. (The link is here.)

It’s called a Crispy Sandwich Maker, made by Apod.

I always love trying out a new gadget, so it was fun to see how this one would play out.  What makes this one a bit different than most sandwich makers is that this only requires just one single slice of bread to make a compact, easy to eat snack that can be sweet or savory. It can be used over a gas stove flame, or, with caution, a campfire, although the design’s arm length better lends itself to a smaller flame like a home kitchen stove.

Because I love a s’more, I decided to do an interpretation of that using  nutella spread and marshmallow spread. My friend John and I were happily making these little sandwiches in the kitchen while I friends taste tested the results along the way.

While the product description says that it requires no oil, we did decide to butter the bread to give a nice brown color to the sandwich, although it could easily be done without it.

The results of the nutella and marshmallow spread crispy sandwiches were consistent and delicious. After about two minutes per side, sandwiches were golden brown and the inside filling was oozy and delicious.

Then it was on to make a savory snack in the form of a crispy ham and cheese with dijon. Again, about two minutes on each side over the flame was just enough to brown the bread and warm up the savory fillings.

This was a fun gadget to play with, and the results were delicious. All in all, everyone gave the results a thumbs up!

To be part of this indiegogo campaign, visit this link!

Continue Reading


Get The Look! A Buyer’s Guide To Brian Balthazar’s Philadelphia Home Redesign



As the world was forced to spend more time at home, Brian Balthazar found himself in a position where he had sold a house before the lockdown and had to find a new one.

“We sold our home with all the furniture in it, so not only did we find ourselves struggling to find a new place, once we found one we didn’t have any furniture to put in it.”

And so, Brian and partner Dennis got resourceful, turning to refurbishing and buying store floor models. They were inspired to make bold, fun choices in color and style when they started shopping around for wallpaper.

Below is the segment as it appeared on the Today Show, and further down, a rundown of where you can find the pieces or ones with a similar look!


Let’s start with the Dining Room!

Move the slider dividing the image to see all of the before or all of the after!

Brian saysThe dining room was the first space we wanted to do. I haven’t had a true dining room since I was a kid, and I’ve always wanted a big table for dinner parties! There were no tables within the price range we wanted, so we found a floor model at one of our favorite go-to stores, Arhaus. We easily saved 75 percent on this table by getting the one that they weren’t going to carry anymore. The chairs are from Wayfair.  On each side of the fireplace (not seen in the photo, but visible in the Today Show video) are two black tall lanterns flanking the fireplace. I got them at Target. I can’t currently find them on their app, but similar versions pop up every year. Get thee to Homegoods! Homegoods and Homesense (same parent company) are my go-to spots for home accessories for virtually every room in the house. You never know what you’re going to find, which is part of the fun.

But let’s focus on the real WOW element to this room – the wallpaper! This pattern is called Bellewood, by RebelWalls.   As you will soon see, I’m sort of obsessed with their patterns. To me, this room is magical with the added whimsy of this forest pattern. (They also have a more muted version with grays and even one with blues.) I also love that by hanging the paper from the chair rail up, you almost get the feeling that you’re standing on a balcony overlooking the forest. I surrounded the whole room with this paper, which I love, but you could easily add the same magical feeling by just doing one feature wall. Their website shows how it can translate to a bedroom or office. You might be intimidated by hanging wallpaper but don’t be! This pattern has so much going on that it really looks perfect when it goes up!



Brian says: The guest bedroom is on the top floor of the house, so it’s got roof lines on two sides that make it a tricky space to navigate if you’re not careful. The planning of this space alone resulted in a few bonked heads. On the upside, the wall where the bed goes is tall, so it was an obvious place to create some visual pop. Again, the wallpaper takes the spotlight.  Called “Nude Roses,” also by RebelWalls, I love this design. Floral wallpaper was ‘big’ in popularity back in the 1920s when this house was built, but the patterns at that time were smaller, repeated more often, and were often really bold in color. This interpretation is so fun to me! Gone are the small roses in favor of oversized blooms, and the bold colors are more subdued pink and gray hues, with touches of dark green and creamy whites.

While roses can inherently feel feminine, the plaid bedding (30 dollars for a queen set from Target) are a surprising complement that keeps everything from feeling a little stereotypical. The side tables are mismatched – partly because we didn’t want to go too “matchy=matchy” – but also to save some money – the one on the left side (hard to catch here) was from West Elm. Normally $199, we got it for half off as the floor model. The one on the right we found in the trash. It was perfectly fine, clearly someone had just gotten tired of it! Nothing some disinfectant can’t fix. That gave us some extra money to spend – To reduce the softeness we went with industrial lamps and edison bulbs. The lamps  are called “Ginyard,” from Wayfair. The headboard was on sale at Arhaus. The dark gray takes balances out the pink hues well. The pillows are from Target and Homegoods.

For the 360 degree view of this room, watch the Instagram reel below!  You’ll see the dresser, on sale for $599 from Arhaus, a lamp from Homegoods, and mobiles from Amazon which we fashioned into a ‘piece of art’ that keeps you from hitting your head on the angled wall opposite the bed. Watch the video to check it out!


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Brian Balthazar (@brianbalthazar)



Brian says: The idea for the basement game room was to create a space that feels like a lounge you might find if you went out with friends. When you go into this basement it definitely feels like you’ve gone someplace unique! Believe it or not, I found out the Today Show had invited me to to record my house tour just a few days in advance, and so we turned around this spot in just THREE days! There was literally no pool table at the time, (although it had already been scheduled to come on Friday, the wallpaper came on Saturday, (as well as the floor tiles!) and by Sunday we were covered in paint and glue and drinking wine to celebrate it’s completion! I recorded the final video that Monday.

Some people might not think to take a bright basement and make it dark, but that was our first instinct. Clubs are dark and moody, and we wanted this to feel like that. We painted the walls Wrought Iron by Benjamin Moore, which is a very dark gray that seems to take on different hues based on where you paint it and the light that shines on it. We painted the ceiling black. This was Thursday night! Then Friday the pool table came. The floor tiles (“Tweed Indeed” in black by Flor) hadn’t arrived until the next day, so when they did arrive I meticulously trimmed four tiles to fit around the pool table legs so it looks like they were there the whole time. I had ordered the pool table online weeks before from and by sheer coincidence it was scheduled to arrive in time for me to shoot the redesign. This was the second time I have ordered a pool table from them (which was initially scary because you’re not even seeing it beforehand!) but it always arrives in perfect condition to your specific selections. I love that the felt jet black and keeps things dark and moody. In the time that has passed since this photo was taken, I’ve added more of the carpet tiles to make the carpeted floor area darker and bigger.

But once again, the wall mural steals the show in a marvelous way! This mural is called “A Priori” from Rebelwalls, and is inspired by The Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power, a famous fresco by Italian artist Pietro da Cortona. Fitting, because this house is Italian in style on the outside. You can’t see it from this photo but the wallpaper runs up part of the ceiling as well. It truly gives the room a wow factor when you enter it. The lamps are from Homegoods, (we’ve since added some industrial floor lamps for extra mood lighting) and the piano was something we brought with us. The bar tables are from Amazon ($72 each) and the stools we brought with us – they were discards from someone who didn’t like their original bright colors and thought they were dated! We covered them ourselves with gray plaid fabric and they’re better than they were new!


So there you have it! Hope you enjoyed the rooms and find something you like!

Continue Reading


Well Sh-t, Leslie Jordan Has Shared Three Videos Of Himself Dancing In One Week And They’re All Perfect



Doing much better now, Leslie.

If you’ve never believed that “good things come in small packages” then you’ve never seen Leslie Jordan’s instagram. The 4’11” actor known for his iconic roles in shows like Will & Grace and American Horror Story has recently developed a whole new fanbase who loves him for his viral Instagram videos. Usually starting each video by greeting fans with “Well shit, how y’all doing?”, viewers have grown to anticipate Jordan’s hilarious recounting of stories from his time in show biz or growing up in the south. This week, however, the Tennessee native has shared 3 videos of himself dancing within 5 days and honestly it’s precisely what we all need right now.

The first video was posted on August 12th and shows Jordan taking part of the “Git up and dance challenge” which swept the internet about a year ago. Even though he is a little late, the video is still perfection.

On August 13th, Jordan does a dance to “You Can’t Stop The Beat” from Hairspray a with special guest dance partner Katie Couric!

Finally, on August 15th, Jordan does an epic “tootsie roll” and challenges Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills star, Lisa Rinna, to do the tootsie roll herself. Of course Rinna commented with a big “ON IT ❤️😂.” Who could say no to the viral star?!?

The moral of the story here is that the world is going through some tough times right now but maybe, even for a few seconds, we could all feel better if we’d just dance it out. Thanks for the inspo Leslie Jordan!

Like what you read? Follow me on Instagram

Continue Reading