Kris Yenbamroong is the chef and owner of Night + Market, a restaurant with two locations in the West Hollywood and Silver Lake neighbourhoods of Los Angeles. He was named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in 2016.
His restaurants are bright, colourful nods to the authentic Thai cuisine he mastered at his parents’ restaurant, Talésai. But at home, Yenbmaroong was attempting to work in a space that was altogether uninspiring.
Laurel & Wolf is a Los Angeles-based interior design startup that pairs clients with designers to refresh specific rooms.
Laurel & Wolf designer Jessica Ruiz Lee helped Yenbamroong revamp his office space — let’s take a look at how it turned out.
The Night + Market restaurants are located in an exceptionally colourful space. Regular customers include celebrities like Drew Barrymore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba, Aziz Ansari, Lena Dunham, and Ryan Gosling (though Gosling apparently only gets take-out here).
But at home, Yenbamroong was dealing with a rather uninspiring space. Over the last few months, he has been working on a cookbook with his wife, Sarah St. Lifer, that's due to come out this year. 'It was so cluttered that I'd open the door, look at it and think, 'I can't work here,'' Yenbamroong said to Laurel & Wolf. 'Then I'd close the door and go sit on the couch, which has its own distractions.'
'Kris' desk was previously tucked away in a corner -- it's no wonder he couldn't get any work done!' Laurel & Wolf designer Jessica Ruiz Lee said. 'Place your desk facing a window and let the natural daylight surround you.'
Art collected by Yenbamroong and St. Lifer in Mexico City and other restaurants in Los Angeles decorate a gallery wall. 'He has recipes, both of his own and of other chefs, as inspiration to keep him thinking about things other than just Thai food,' St. Lifer said.
'I love to bring nature indoors,' Lee said. 'It adds texture and a nice focal point to the room. Indoor plants like 'peace lilies' are known to improve air quality and also work well in low light areas.'
'To keep a peaceful office everything should have its place -- paper work, books and smaller items,' Lee said. 'For Kris' office I tried to free up floor space as much as possible and instead utilise the walls for storing his cookbooks.'
And there are, indeed, quite a few cookbooks in this office. But Yenbamroong hopes people will actually use his. 'I want it to be really usable and approachable. I want people to cook from it -- I don't want it to sit around on a bookshelf,' he said.
This home belongs to Yenbamroong's family, and the couple moved in together when St. Lifer moved to Los Angeles from New York. 'I'll defer to Sarah in the home,' Yenbamroong said. 'She's got a really good sense ... when I was living alone, it was like a pile of books, my laptop, my bed and some beers. I can still live that way. But Sarah has been able to bring a sense of aesthetics in a way that's nice for me.'
Yenbamroong has no formal cooking training and instead learned technique from observing things at his parents' Thai restaurant, Talésai.
'That food was 'royal palace' cooking: more traditional and stereotypical Thai restaurant cooking. When I began cooking and made changes to the menu, I lost a ton of customers,' he told Food & Wine in 2016.
'So I said, 'Let's go back to the way it was.' And that's really when Night + Market happened, so I could do my own thing.'
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