Candice Kumai is working on top of the center island of a kitchen studio in Brooklyn, New York. The chef, author, photographer and former model takes aim at a bowl of roasted kabocha squash framed by vases of blown white roses—and talks while she works. “Kintsugi is ‘the art of golden repair,’” Kumai explains.
The concept of kintsugi now infuses her work, as well as her idea of physical health and psychological well-being. Praised by everyone from media and wellness magnate Arianna Huffington to body-positive yogi and author Jessamyn Stanley, and even called “the golden girl of wellness” by Elle magazine, Kumai elevates her photography subjects above and beyond their inherent beauty. Her focus is on the ephemeral—the fragile satin of fresh blossoms, the fleeting texture of foam.
But those are her working hands with unvarnished nails and her sneakers at the edge of her photos and videos. And in fact, for her most recent book “Kintsugi Wellness” (Harper Wave, 2018), Kumai delved deep into her Japanese heritage, ultimately to define a life well-lived as a continuous process of restoring the whole—not in terms of achieving perfection. So I was eager to ask Kumai why she’s made food and food photography her medium for her broader message about wellness.