Food + Wine's Best New Chef Spices Up His Night + Market Office
Chef Kris Yenbamroong paved a path from Sunset Boulevard to the back streets of Northern Thailand with his wildly popular restaurants: Night + Market and celeb-fave Night + Market Song. A perfect blend of two worlds, the dishes and décor feel authentically Thai and thoroughly LA. Yenbamroong's exquisite skill is balance: both at work in the form of a sweet and spicy curry or at home with his wife, Sarah St. Lifer.
Just months ago, the couple said their vows in the restaurant, and though they are newlyweds, they exude the sage wisdom of an old married couple.
"We're coming from completely different places, but you don't want to be with another you. Sarah has helped me to focus, she's brought structure and a sense of aesthetics to our life," Yenbamroong says.
The couple worked together to design the bold look of Song, creating a vibe that's a little bit Thai-with floral plastic tablecloths-and distinctly LA-in lieu of Thai pin-up girl posters, they have a classic one of Cindy Crawford. The stylized yet chill vibe attracts everyone from date night couples to neighborhood regulars to celebs like Drew Barrymore, Gwyneth Paltrow and Aziz Ansari.
"I used to open the door to this office, look at it and think, 'I can't work here.' It was too disorganized. Then I'd sit in the living room and be distracted all over again," Yenbamroong says.
The Laurel & Wolf designer began by listening to the duo's requests: a calm, organized space where either one would feel at home while working. She used clean-lined, modern bookcases to showcase the couple's cookbook collection and kept to a neutral palette with pops of blue.
"I also chose patterns that represent natural elements like waves and water," Ruiz Lee says.
She hung a gallery that doubles as a living scrapbook of their adventures–a treasured print from the couple's time in Mexico City hangs next to a sketch by Yenbamroong's favorite tattoo artist along with a favorite handwritten recipe.
"Kris is a really sentimental guy, so he keeps ticket stubs, fliers, things like that. When you put those objects on a wall, they go from being stacks of paper to really meaning something. You see it there every day, it's more present in your life," St. Lifer says.
Yenbamroong spent his youth in Bangkok where everyone aspired to have two kitchens–one for show and another for cooking. He prefers a more utilitarian approach to his living spaces.
"It's really important to me to live in your space. Buy nice stuff, a nice table, a nice jacket, a nice kitchen. Buy it, and really use it," Yenbamroong says.
One Thai custom that the couple loves? Combined working and living spaces, like those that they see often on their trips through the country's northern regions. "It's your home, but you're also welcoming customers. Spaces like that–spaces that serve a purpose–those feel so much more lived in and welcoming to me," St. Lifer says.
Their new home office definitely fills that need with space to write new recipes at the wooden desk, share lunches on the sun-drenched patio, collaborate through French doors, and relax over a bowl of hot noodles.
"With the craziness of running a restaurant, it's really nice for us to be able to come home and decompress. With our new office, we're still going to be doing work at home, but it's going to be better work. It's a clean slate," St. Lifer says.