The other day, my morning spin instructor played that great Alicia Keys song, Girl on Fire, and as I sweated it out and thought about some of the powerful women I knew, Candice Kumai came to mind. I’ve know this bestselling author, chef, contributor to E! News and the Today show (among others) over the blogosphere for a while now, and the girl positively sizzles with energy and passion. I was thrilled when Candice invited us to peek in on the holiday brunch she threw for her squad, spilling her entertaining must-haves and go-to recipes. ELLE magazine once called her “the golden girl of wellness,” and, as is evidenced by her sparkling tabletop, turns out there’s a gilded edge to just about everything Candice touches. Keep scrolling for all the details.
*photography and interview by Alison Engstrom
My must-have entertaining tool:
A big smile and champagne glasses waiting for everyone at the door.
The entertaining rule I live by:
Be the most sincere and gracious host, and nothing store-bought allowed.
Pancakes are artfully arranged and accented with sweet raspberries and coconut flakes.
What scares you about entertaining?
Running out of champagne + people on their phones the whole time.
My signature entertaining dish:
Kale Avo Caesar and my Vegan Coconut Banana Funfetti Cake.
The taste I’m always craving:
Umami all day.
The perfect dinner party playlist includes:
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Steve Aoki, N.E.R.D., Passion Pit, Miike Snow
Candice picks up fresh blooms at her favorite floral shop, Sprout Home, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Always in my refrigerator:
Avocados all day and night, tamari shoyu, miso, lacinato kale.
The most beautiful avocado toast we’ve ever seen, piled high on gluten-free bread.
The restaurant meal I’ll never forget:
Ramen, kimchi, gyoza, and cold beer in Mom’s hometown, Beppu, Japan.
It’s the little details that count! Candice creates handwritten seat assignments for her guests.
Secret to a great dinner party:
Best friends forever, no fake people allowed.
Candice arranges flowers before her guests arrive. She combines blush hydrangeas with white dahlias and roses.
Current favorite color palette for parties:
Lately, I’m loving lavender, pale rose, white.
My standard host / hostess outfit:
Tight black dress, little apron, cute shoes, big smile.
My dream dinner guests:
My Grandma and Grandpa on both sides of the family that are Polish and Japanese.
A serene and feminine table ready to be enjoyed.
My entertaining style in 5 words or less:
Traditional, stylish, simple, clean, absolutely delish.
Candice with her ultimate girl squad!
Follow along on Candice’s journey (she’s currently in Japan working on her new book!) by following her on Instagram here.