Jumpsuit Interview with Kris & Sarah Yenbamroong
Can you give me a brief rundown of your "average" work day? (I know you probably don't have a normal work day, but as best as you can!)
Kris: I spend the first couple hours of my work day on my computer, corresponding with our managers, reading, doing interviews like this one, etc. Then I usually cruise into the Venice spot. It’s the newest and needs the most love right now. I check in with the prep cooks, meet with my sous chef, work on specials, chat about new hires. Then I’ll usually coordinate with our property manager on maintenance items (fixing stuff, building stuff, etc…). I usually stay through service at one restaurant, although once in a blue moon, I’ll hit all 3 restaurants in 1 night. I’ve heard chefs with multiple restaurants say that it’s best for them to just stick to one restaurant per day, but I don’t agree. I like seeing how the different spots are operating. When I check in, I’m mostly watching how the cooks are working, tasting the dishes, coaching.
Sarah: Each day is a little bit different. But, every morning I wake up and answer emails and research wines. I take it slow in the morning with our dog, and if I can squeeze in a workout I feel super accomplished and it sets the tone for the rest of the day. I typically have meetings with managers or wine tastings during the day, then split the dinner service between two of the three spots. The West Hollywood and Silver Lake locations have been around for 8 and 4 years respectively, and it means a lot to those regulars to have a familiar face. The Venice location is new, and while we have an amazing team, it’s important to make sure we’ve fine tuned everything to our liking. That being said, I make my own schedule! If I need a “personal day” I’ll get a facial, get a manicure, and have a long lunch at Destroyer. But, those days don’t come along as frequently as I’d like!
How would you describe your personal style?
Kris: Jeremiah from Wildair / Contra claims that I dress like a tournament poker player, so I’ll go with that. I take it as a compliment.
Sarah: I very rarely buy something that’s not practical to working in a restaurant. My uniform is jeans, t-shirt, boots (I have six, yes six, of the same pair of Saint Laurent boots — all with non-slip grips!) and a blazer. I’m all about accessories dressing up a casual outfit. Currently, I’m wearing a lot of gold jewelry I got at the Slauson swap meet. I would look out of place in a dress and heels at Night + Market — I don’t want the guest to be intimidated by me! Plus, I spend quite of bit of time in the car, and need to stay comfortable!
How does your work play into that?
Kris: Anytime I’m logging major kitchen hours (like with the opening of Sahm, when I was in daily til 3am), I start dressing more like a janitor or custodial services provider—gray chinos, white t, black leather shoes. That’s because I’m scrubbing, cleaning, getting wet, etc.
Sarah: I sort of answered this already, but I wear clothes that I can be dirty in (move cases of wine, wash dishes, build shelves) if I need to be. I hardly wear dresses to the restaurant because of this! I do love a good jumpsuit, especially in the heat of summer. On its own, it’s casual. But, with a blazer and boots, you’re all of a sudden the maître d who knows all the ingredients in the Crispy Rice and someone who has kick-ass style.
One word you'd use to describe why you do what you do? You're more than welcome to explain why you chose the word, or just let it ride!
Kris: Fulfillment. Or Impact. They sort of go hand in hand for me.
Sarah: Love. I fell in love with Kris first, and then I fell in love with Night + Market. I had zero experience in restaurants before meeting Kris, and the only reason I work with him is because he had this brilliant idea, but needed help executing it. It started with me being the host, then the bartender, then a manager… I learned everything on the job! I made plenty of mistakes along the way, but now I am in a place where I delegate to others, and feel comfortable doing so because I have been there. Now that we have hired wonderful hosts, bartenders and managers, I can step back and help Kris focus on the bigger picture.