Day Twenty-One: Wednesday November 21st, Uniformity vs. Spontaneity

Uniforms express, often inelegantly, the restarauteur’s vision. I fear I will do the same. Although the quality of care and efficient delivery of service is paramount, guests, like most human beings, will remember first impressions long after they have forgotten the food you served them. I have had to take two different approaches to front-of-house uniforms at the restaurant. At Seoul Food Co., I wanted the uniform to be precise, appear to look somewhat “branded”. The colours are vibrant and clean, almost franchise-ish: white tiles with orange and chocolate brown accents, and orange walls.  I found the perfect uniforms to complement…Orange shirts covered with knee-length aprons that have chocolate brown stripes, from Chefworks. Meanwhile, at Yakitori Bar, all servers and bartenders will be dressed in black, in line with the trend on this side of the home kitchen. These shirts from H&M are cheap and cheerless, but it does the job. Black keeps things clean and professional, and allows the server to sometimes disappear into his uniform, as required, when guests just want to be left alone to their dinner. Or, sometimes, it allows their personality to shine when a situation demands it, without the clamour of colourful or busy outfits to compete against. Okay, okay, I actually wanted my servers and bartenders to match the  new bar back tiles…You like those?

I have had my moments of spontaneity these past 21 days, albeit failing to achieve anything remotely aesthetic, when I envisioned parts of the Seoul Food Co. space to look a specific way. This is how I drew up the bibimbap station a week ago, imagining a giant custom made unit fit for a king. (I think I may have been testing too many cocktails when I did this…) Reality, however, is always about compromise if not downright rejection of such whims. This is what we would actually need to meet the space’s requirements. I found this at the Faema presentation center near Koreatown.A glorified salad bar that was not quite what I had in mind. But it was beautiful in its own way and would have to do. The granite counter was a nice flourish.  And a grab-n-go unit that will stand beside it. It’s not exactly the same height, but no perfect couple ever are (at least none that I’ve ever met). Truth be told, it’s times like this that I kick myself for not asking one of my designer friends to help me out.

After weeks of scouring the city for the perfect cup of double espresso and the instrument it was made in, I was able to trace a certain one in the east end back to this presentation center, which is what brought me here in the first place. I’m not into fast cars or gadgets or fast gadgets, but I knew this machine would make me want to change my life, be a better person. It costs more than my last car (which was slow, by the way), but it captures the look I want at Seoul Food Co. Oh, and it’s dummy-proof (ie. automatic) so I will be able to make you a great espresso when you order one.

Finally, because I envisioned Seoul Food Co. to be all about good food/healthy food, I wondered what would really send that message across to our customers. Then, suddenly, across the crowded room, I saw her. She was by herself, minding her own business, and I could swear Tom Waits’ I hope that I don’t Fall In Love With You was playing out of some open car window. This is what she looked like. A orange juicer for the 21st century, dressed to the nines. It will kick back on the countertop, beside the sexy espresso machine, and do what it was meant to do: make the sexy espresso machine feel even sexier by just being in its vicinity.

Oh, and the colour is uniform, don’t you think? Blends perfectly with the walls.