159. Wabi Sabi Wellness: The Japanese Art of Perfectly Imperfect Living with Candice Kumai

Candice Kumai

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

Candice Kumai is an internationally-renowned wellness writer, chef & content creator, described by ELLE magazine as “The Golden Girl of the Wellness World.”

Candice sits on The Well+Good Council and was recently named one of Arianna Huffington’s “Top 20 New Role Models in 2017.”

Born and raised in California to a Japanese mother and a Polish-American father, in Carlsbad CA, Candice grew up in a mixed culture home – celebrating Japanese traditions & cuisine from a young age, and honing a cosmopolitan perspective that continues to inspire her work today.

Candice is a classically trained chef, former line cook, former TV host, former-model-turned wellness journalist, & five-time, best-selling author of Clean Green Eats, Clean Green Drinks, Pretty Delicious, Cook Yourself Sexy, and Cook Yourself Thin. Her next book, Kintsugi Wellness: The Japanese Art of Nourishing Mind, Body, and Spirit launched on April 17, 2018.

Candice contributes to numerous, national wellness & lifestyle publications including ELLE, Cosmopolitan, Bon Appétit, Shape, Yoga Journal, Men’s Journal, Wall Street Journal, Well+Good, Popsugar, Girlboss and Byrdie. A Top Chef alumna, Candice has appeared as a regular judge on Iron Chef America & Beat Bobby Flay.

Candice’s dedication to philanthropy + volunteer efforts includes partnerships with City Harvest, The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), Thousand Days, The Japan Society, Wellness in The Schools (WITS), Health Corps, The US Japan Council, The Chef’s Garden, and The James Beard Foundation. She serves as a mentor for high school/college students through Health Corps & The Resolution Project.

Candice has shared her message with global brands/institutions including Adidas, Nike, Chanel, Shiseido, Whole Foods, Samsung, Reebok, the NBA, The New York Times, Equinox, SoHo House, Lululemon, Yale University, University of San Diego, ABC Home Deepak Chopra Center, Thrive Global, & The Natural Gourmet Institute.

Candice is a lover of vegan cake baking, matcha making & is a total sneakerhead. Candice loves her avocados, her cat Sisi, & a good-ass barre class. She lives in Brooklyn, NY and has been represented by WME IMG for 8+ years.

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

In Japanese culture, if an object of value breaks, there is an art form that involves putting it back together with lacquer and golden powder – Kintsugi, or the art of golden repair. 

The repaired object is then considered more beautiful than it was before; a recognition that the imperfections and differences are part of our story, and part of what makes us attractive.

There is another Japanese art called wabi-sabi, which is essentially the aesthetic philosophy that things can be perfectly imperfect.

As someone who wrecked his life and put it back together, I can appreciate the metaphor.

I also appreciate how these traditions inspire my guest Candice Kumai, the “golden girl of the wellness world.” She is a professionally trained chef, a leading wellness writer, a best-selling author, a Top Chef alumni, and a proud Japanese-American.

Her newest book, Kintsugi Wellness: The Japanese Art of Nourishing Mind, Body, and Spirit, is more than just a clean living guide or cookbook – it’s a piece of art that guides the reader through Candice’s favorite Japanese traditions and practices for cultivating inner strength and living graciously, containing the tools we all need to reclaim the art of living well.

Candice reminds us of the power and beauty of rebirth, shows us we can all start practicing the art of living well (no matter what age we are), and explains why cooking is one of the only resources available to all of us that will allow someone to change their whole life through simple ingredients & actions.

We also end the interview with a question I’ll pose to all of you – How can we, as public figures and content creators, be of better use to you? That’s why we’re here, and we honestly want to know.

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • The incredible matcha cookies that Candice made for me (you can check out the recipe here on Candice’s YouTube channel)
  • Birth, destruction, and rebirth is a natural cycle – and how sometimes the resurgence is the most beautiful part
  • How Candice’s parents met through war, in a Buddhist temple
  • What is wabi-sabi?
  • Growing up, Candice was everything that wasn’t considered “Asian.”
  • Like Dr. Seuss said, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
  • Why Candice gravitated towards her Japanese heritage
  • Part of being honorable and humble is letting your work speak for itself 
  • Drinking vodka, from a biohacker’s perspective
  • The mouth-watering photography in Kintsugi Wellness (which Candice did herself)
  • What do people do differently in The Blue Zones, the areas where people live the longest & happiest lives?
  • Why a healthy begins when you get a Vitamix
  • Why cooking is one of the only resources you have to change your whole life through simple ingredients & actions
  • Gaman, the art of high resilience, humility, and enduring
  • Working with integrity & authenticity
  • How can we, as public figures, be of use to you?

More about this episode.

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