Chef & Company

A catering company on W18th Street

The heart of a catering company is its kitchen. Yet the overall program is more complex than just pots and pans: offices, preparation areas, staging areas, a tasting room and, in the case of Chef & Company, a café that claims the public domain. It was the clients wish to find a new balance for this space and to ensure a seductive street presence to display the Chef & Company quality of food and service. The young design firm CGGM understood the catering company’s café as a metaphoric window onto the kitchen. Customers can sense that the bustle beyond the café space is part of a larger undertaking. To achieve this, the architects pulled an abstraction of the kitchen to the storefront, in order to create a relationship with t he customer. The space borrows the kitchen’s material language in the form of tile and stainless steel. The customer is in the kitchen. Applied to the given terrain of the retail space, the materials shift between the planar and the volumetric, creating zones of use. Te central area is defend by a 15’-0’’ cascade of tile that erupts into a chunky ceramic mass which forms the main counter of the café. Materials also vary in the quality of their surfaces: from matte to reflective, from hard to soft. The hard stainless steel surfaces of the buffet area transforms into soft lounge seating that by shape and color alludes to metal. Material mimicry occurs. The materials take on the appearance of their surroundings: material and color become independent of their carrier. One object steals the qualities of another. The white barstools disappear in a field of white tile. Mirror polished lounge tables merge with the toned ceiling above. All objects in space lose their color and become reflections of each other. Creating a new space and therefore a new identity for “Chef & Company” also required addressing the already established corporate red. The client was fearless enough to agree to the removal of the red form the palette. In its place a new color, Caribbean Blue, was applied to the ceiling, pulling deep into the floor plate, well beyond the public area. The red was reintroduced by means of staff uniforms and signage, thus animating and highlighting the color. It was the suppression of the red, which made it precious. The firm’s new image for quality and exquisite food.

Take out restaurant and catering kitchen
8 West 18th Street, New York, NY
2003 - 2005
Jason Apfelbaum
Direct mandate
Peter Margonelli