When your day is split between a kitchen and meetings, deciding what to wear can be difficult. But for Jonathan Barthelmess, co-owner of Potts Point favourites The Apollo and Cho Cho San, the decision is easy; versatility, comfort, understated style and the ever-comfortable Spring Court sneaker are the keys.
Broadsheet: Was there ever a time you wore Crocs in the kitchen?
Jonathan Barthelmess: Definitely! I used to wear Crocs or backless shoes at the start, however they didn’t last long, so I switched to sneakers because they’re more comfortable. I wear Spring Courts now.
BS: We’ve noticed you often wear all black with white shoes? Please explain.
JB: I’m always in different environments, like a meeting or in the kitchen working on a new dish, so wearing all black means I can slip in and out of each. But I hate I looking at my feet and seeing a dark colour as well.
JB: I don’t know, I just like to have something that isn’t black. I’ve got a lot of white shoes ... Sometimes I wear all navy with white shoes, if I’m not working – say I’m on holiday or something. I’ve been wearing black for more than 10 years, so if I wear a colour I feel uncomfortable now. It’s so weird when you look in my wardrobe!
BS: What brands do you like?
JB: A pair of Bassike pants because they’re comfortable, and an Orlebar Brown T-shirt. And a watch! It’s always important to wear a watch in the kitchen for timing.
BS: Are the interiors of both restaurants a reflection of yours and Sam Christie’s (business partner) personal styles?
JB: Definitely. For The Apollo, in the design brief we said it needs to feel Greek but we didn’t want blue and white. Looking at the wine list or menu is enough. There’s the olive tree, and the slight tomato colour you see in all the milk bars in Greece, but it’s understated. The same with Cho Cho San. The butterfly, origami, the way the tables are set, that’s how it’s Japanese. It’s not “in your face”. I think that’s how we are as well.
BS: You recently spent time in Italy, that wasn’t restaurant research by any chance, was it?
JB: I went to Greece as well! I’d like to do something late next year, but what and where is still really broad. Open another restaurant, definitely, do something completely different. But Italy was just a holiday; eating good produce and travelling.