From the desk of: SOO N Food

Mar 24, 2016

Saehee Cho concepted her food business SOO N as curated culinary art, highlightingundeniable aesthetic, showcasing clean, contemporary imagery and design in all of her business materials. We sat down with the chef to find out what inspires her culinary practice, and how it is to run a business in her field.

What’s on your desk?

Oranges, stacks of unorganized receipts, my favorite pocket notebook, and charcoal incense.

Fill in the blank: "I don't show up at a meeting without _________."

An edible treat, usually cookies.

What's on your reading list?

I like to skip around and read several books simultaneously. Currently in the rotation I have : Fanny Howe's "The Lives of a Spirit/Glasstown: Where Something Got Broken", Sidebrow's anthology "The Volta Book of Poets", and Janice Lee's "The Sky Isn't Blue".

Favorite books... / Can't wait to read...

I'm in love with anything by Anne Carson, also Lydia Davis, Maggie Nelson, and Amina Cain. The list is long. / I can't wait to read "The Importance of Being Iceland" by Eileen Myles. It's been on my reading list for years.

Constantly craving... / Don't see the appeal of...

Lately I've had an insatiable craving for chilaquiles. But generally I am always craving any of the following, in any combination: eggs, pickles, balsamic vinegar, chocolate, plain white rice, noodles, a good sandwich. / I try hard to see the appeal in everything!

 Skills mastered... / I can't quite get the hang of...

I can make a wedding cake but I can't make a truly good cup of coffee. It's a weird thing in my life. I can never get the ratio just right.

Describe your personal aesthetic in three words:

Soft, careful, bright

Describe the creative space at your company:

I love my kitchen. During a busy week there are buckets of citrus, the smell of caramelizing onions and browning butter, bowls of multi-colored produce, and always something in the oven.

What are your design inspirations?

California produce!

How does one tap into their creative side?

I'm sure that's different for everyone but for myself, I think good conversation with friends, a quiet head, maybe a glass of wine.

What is your favorite aspect of the job you do?

I get to feed my friends and loved ones!

The paper product I can’t live without is ____ and I use it to _____.

I can't live without my pocket notebook. It's a catch-all for anything my brain needs to urgently write down--menu ideas, a line for a story, a movie I want to watch.

What career moves and/or aspirations brought you to your current role?

There are many generations of excellent cooks behind me. I can't think of a time when food was not a consuming interest of mine.

When do you feel like you’re at your best?

I feel like my food is the best when I'm cooking a small relaxed meal for family or for a friend. I like cooking small. It's totally different than cooking a huge meal for 20. My food is best and most sincere when it's intimate and a little sentimental.

How does your brand convey its unique personality?

SOO N is a very personal project so I feel like it can't help but project my personality a little bit. It's also through the collaboration of close friends. Every season I've been working with Mar Peidro on mini-campaigns around my jams. Paper Chase Press prints the posters every time!

Branding is __________.

An opportunity to show your customer your artistic intent.

Because of my experience doing __________, I tend to pay more attention than most people do to __________.

For many years I worked for Clare V. I think I pay a lot more attention to the aesthetic and design aspects of my food because of my experience there. Working with people who have a really honed sense of style and polish was an enormous lesson for me.

Describe a typical day at work:

My mornings are typically occupied with work emails and going to markets. This is usually followed by some prep work in the kitchen, maybe some sketching or menu planning in the afternoon. I use my dinners to test menu ideas so I'm usually cooking in the evenings. And always I'm cleaning. The most unglamorous part of being in a kitchen all day is having to clean it all day.

What is the best professional lesson you’ve ever learned?

Watching both my parents build their businesses from the ground up taught me the importance of being able adapt and pivot with the unexpected.

What are the most exciting developments in your industry?

LA has always been a food-conscious city but in the last 5 years or so there's a deeper engagement with cooking. It's exciting to live in a city where good food is culturally important.

How do you start and/or end your day?

I start my day by walking my dog Lily and I end my day by reading tarot.

The vice you’ll never give up is __________.

Breakfast burritos

Tell us about your latest printed project:

We just completed a photo project for a new jam I'm making. It was shot by Chantal Anderson and styled by Mar Peidro. Paper Chase Press has been printing these photo projects as posters seasonally.

What was the inspiration behind this project?

My friend Bri Holmes! Every season I make a new jam inspired by a friend. Bri Jam is Blackberry and Rhubarb.

What brought you to Paper Chase Press?

Amanda Marsalis printed a beautiful poster about Chez Panisse through Paper Chase Press and I loved the feel and quality of the paper.

How often do you use printed goods to promote your business?

Printed goods are really important for my business because my product disappears with use! Whenever I mail out a jam I include a poster or some kind of printed ephemera.

How does this project fit into your design philosophy? Your branding? Your overall objectives?

These jam poster projects end-up being a great vehicle for the brand aesthetic. I organize my menus seasonally and the poster projects are a kind of a mood-board for the food I intend to make every season. 

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