Refrigerator Look Book: Candice Kumai

"People need to knock off the diet thing," says the Top Chef contestant, former TV host, and Stiletto Chef. Kumai balances a healthy fridge and fun dinners out.

Candice Kumai the Stiletto Chef diet In all aspects of her mulitfaceted career—as a contestant on Top Chef, a guest judge on Iron Chef America, and the author of Pretty DeliciousCandice Kumai, AKA the “Stiletto Chef,” makes food stylish—and looks fab while doing it.

And while she was once the host of Lifetime’s Cook Yourself Thin, she’s not one to recommend counting calories. “People need to knock off the diet thing,” says Kumai. “I live by Julia Childs’ rule: Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

For her, that means balancing nights out with friends—full of indulgent food and champagne—with a daily routine of eating whole, clean foods, drinking lots of water and tea, and practicing yoga and the Bar Method.

We peeked inside her stylin’, balanced fridge:

That’s a lot of coconut water! Is it for hydrating after workouts? Yes, I’ll usually drink it before or after a workout because I love the natural electrolytes. But I also really think it’s just a very clean beverage to have anytime, because of its natural electrolytes and nutrients.

What’s under the foil in the dish on the top shelf? How about in the two containers next to it? That was a butternut squash garlic mac and cheese. I made it for the new cookbook. And in the containers—one of them is herbed gnocchi, and the other one is probably a leftover arugula and roasted beet salad.

Yum! And, you have a new cookbook coming out? Yes, most likely in fall 2012! A lot of the leftovers are from recipe testing for that. And my kitchen is so well-stocked right now, because when you’re recipe writing, you have to have all of your ammunition—an arsenal of  spices, seasonings, sauces, and marinades.

Candice Kumai

Is that why you have, like, four different kinds of hot sauce? I have a thing about bland food, and hot sauce is the easiest way to spice something up—and it revs up your metabolism! I have Lan Chi Chili Paste with garlic, Tabasco’s Smoked Chipotle Pepper Sauce… But my favorite is the Sriracha. It’s the best.

What about the pretty ball jars on the top shelf and on the bottom. Are they veggies that you canned? One of them is a cranberry-apple chutney, and the other is a ginger-orange marmalade. I make them by hand for the holidays for the people I love. I love jamming; it’s really a lost art. There’s also a jar of kimchi; I made a big batch of that. For the record, I don’t recommend eating it on a date. Kimchi is for private eating only.

Interesting. And what do you use the soybean paste for? I make miso, or miso cod, or miso halibut. Miso dressings and dips and marinades. The easiest thing is to buy a tub and it lasts you for months.

It sounds like you’re a cooking machine! It depends. On weekdays, I’ll usually do quick salads, or I’m eating a lot of leftovers. For a salad, I’ll throw together greens with smoked salmon, capers, red onion, olive oil, and sea salt. On weekends, I’ll make a really nice lentil garlic soup and then eat it throughout the week. —Lisa Elaine Held

You can learn to cook with Candice at the Bowery Whole Foods on February 9 and March 1. Check out her calendar for more info or visit

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