Rad Food, RAD Architecture //

Despite all of our efforts, we were unable to get these images and story published. Therefore we have decided to post it ourselves. Here are a couple of the images along with the interview. Hope you enjoy and learn a little bit more about the talent we have right here in Calgary!

Rad Food, RAD Architecture //

When driving through the streets of downtown Calgary, Canada, you will notice at least two or three large, RAD Architecture decals plastered on the window of an up and coming hip new restaurant or a familiar one, waiting to be unveiled in all its, interior glory. The women of RAD are known for their beautiful restaurant interiors that transport you to another place. Pair this, with restaurants that know how to captivate your palette and you’ve got one, kick-ass, night out.

The self taught, Chef Roy, is not new to the culinary scene. After closing up shop for awhile, he teamed up with the city’s hospitality big shots - Concorde Group. The Concorde Group, manages 15 of the city’s restaurants, bars and event venues. Upon partnering, Roy's Anju, known for its delicious Korean tapas, took over a space that was housed by a variety of restaurants in the past. Ones that lacked the curb appeal that Anju now owns, with the help of the architects from RAD.

We sat down with both Chef Roy and the 3 lovely ladies from RAD to find out more about what inspires them to inspire us with their great talents.

Roy/Anju Restaurant

What is your favourite design element or feature in the restaurant?
Love the Korean characters, they’re kinda gibberish. Dates back - more of a historical alphabet. The Blue Wall was done on a CMC machine, it’s an old Korean postage stamp. Bowls on the shelf are for making Korean chili paste, soy bean paste and soy sauce. They're not Kimchi pots and are all just for display. 

Favourite place to visit globally?
New York

Favourite restaurant in NY?
So many to choose from, top restaurants to choose from. If you are a chef in new york and have a mediocre reputation in New York, you are doing pretty good food because the competition in New York is so intense. It’s almost like the song with Jay Z and Alicia Keys - if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. 

Favourite meal to cook?
One pot meal - something super easy. We cook more complicated meals in the restaurant, so when I cook at home, I like to cook something simple, like braised meat

Favourite beverage to serve?
Straight Korean chartreuse.

Favourite restaurant to dine in locally?
Toss up between Black Pig and Model Milk. Always great food, always consistent. At Black Pig, the menu doesn’t change often but the food is always great. Model Milk - very innovative menu. They’re menu is  constantly changing. You know that when you go in you can have not only a new experience but you can have a new good experience. They are always making good food. We don’t change our menu as often as Model Milk but we are doing seasonal right now and we do a tasting menu which we change once a week.

Dream destination.
For food - I think Spain - we do tapas style Korean food, but tapas originated from Spain, so it would be great to check out and their food scene is unbelievable. There are great things happening there.

When you’re travelling, what can’t you travel without?
I’m a very easy going traveller. It would probably have to be my phone. Every chef is glued to their phone. Nowadays you have to be on social media, you have to keep in contact with your restaurant. If you’re travelling, you can’t be disconnected at all - checking emails all the time and taking pictures - we have instagram.

What do you think makes ANJU so unique?
I think it’s just my perspective on Korean food. Born and raised in Canada but grew up eating Korean food and North American food. I would definitely call it fusion and I used to shy away from that word, but now, it’s like, that is kinda who I am. I have both cultures ingrained in me.

Do you speak Korean?
A little bit.

You understand?
Yes, I can understand (chuckles). I can get by.

Chefs that you look up to?
It would definitely be Antonio Park and Justin Leboe from Model Milk and John Michael McNeil.

Antonio Park has his own restaurant in Montreal called Park and he’s opening up a second restaurant called Lavenderia in Montreal as well.

John Michael McNeil was executive at Teatro now he’s cooking at Black Pig. 

You mentioned that your mom has influenced your cooking. What made you switch from visual communications? What influenced you, was it you mom?
No, I just started cooking for people. I started cooking for my church, for their Christmas parties and I kinda fell in love with, the hands on aspect of cooking. You touching things, you're more creative in a very tactile way. I was 30 when I started cooking.

How is chef life? Personal life, spending time with family?
It’s very difficult. I don’t know if you’re on Facebook, but on your feed, sometimes you’ll see things like, 15 things why you should never become a chef - and it’s all true. I know so many chefs, that can’t keep a marriage, can’t keep a relationship. The great thing about chefs, is that none of them are in it for the money or the glory. If they’re in it for such a long period of time, it just means that they love it, that’s the great thing. There are no fakers. If they’re in it for money, then sorry, it’s not that great. And obviously, everyone’s dream is to open up their own restaurant but it’s a lot of hard work. 

Favourite, travel destination?
Las Vegas

Favourite restaurants in Vegas?
Bouchon, bouchon is great. I was actually not that impressed with a lot of the restaurants in Las Vegas but I liked the buffet at the Bellagio.

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*Did you know that Anju, literally means to eat a Korean food with alcohol? Now you know!*

RAD Architecture / K.A. Kate Allen + K.R. Kelly Ryan + K.L. Kristen Lien

Anju   RAD.jpg

What were your design inspirations for Anju? It's evident that you took inspiration from Korean Culture; did you do any research into significant Korean design? Did Roy help you with these elements?

K.A & K.R: It was important for the space to reflect Roy’s reverence to tradition, while offering enough of the unexpected, to match Roy’s fresh take on Korean food. Like many of our projects, the combination of old and new creates a balance that people are drawn to, and feel comfortable in. We felt that Roy’s warm heart, and family style approach, should be reflected in a welcoming and cozy space that lends itself to group dining. We also felt the space should reflect the food, simple with complex flavours. The overall space is subtle however undertones of Korean culture have been injected throughout. Through research and general interest, interior elements within the space were inspired by Korean folklore, storytelling and hints of nationalism.

How was the process like working with Roy?
K.A & K.R: We always love working with Concorde and it is rare that we get a chance to work with a chef that already has a devout following. With a much anticipated opening, the pressure was on RAD to create a space that would delight his faithful clients but also attract new visitors. Similar to Roy’s deep-rooted passion toward cooking, we appreciated his well considered opinions and direction throughout the design process.

The corner of 4th Street and 17th Avenue has really been given a new transformation, with the opening of Anju. What is it about the design of the exterior and interior that has changed the vibe of this corner, for the better?
K.A: 17th Ave is a pedestrian realm, so our goal was to make this corner more appealing to the pedestrian. While the design strategies benefit Anju, by creating a more approachable storefront, we feel that making an urban gesture is the responsibility of the Architect. We can begin to transform our neighbourhoods by making small initiatives that have a great impact on the quality of the street. We used simple awnings to bring the existing building down to a human scale and define our space within the building. We lowered the existing patio, bringing it closer to ground level, to create the opportunity for interaction between diners and pedestrians, while softening the street edge with plantings along the side of the patio.

Most of your projects have a certain global flair - is this a reflection of a well traveled architect?K.A: Calgary is growing quickly, but it is still very young. We love travelling for inspiration, which fuels our projects, and gives us the opportunity to offer this city something just a little bit different.
K.L: We have built our business with a ‘work hard, play harder’ mentality, and really encourage everyone in our office to get out and experience the City and travel in their free time. As partners, we also plan frequent ‘research trips’ to experience food and design in other cities around the world. If we’re going to continue to be leaders in hospitality design, we need everyone on our team to keep current and informed with what is happening throughout the world.

Where is your favourite travel destination + why?

K.A: Sydney, because it has the perfect balance of old and new, and it is so colourful!
K.L: I have a special place in my heart for Barcelona. I was lucky enough to live there while studying Architecture. I lived in a beautiful little 300 sf apartment with a good friend, and we spent most of our free time exploring the city on foot. We immersed ourselves in the design culture, purchased fresh food from the market every day, tried a lot of different tapas, and always paired everything we ate with wine!
K.R: It is difficult to pick one favourite. I think there are favourites for different phases in your life. Some destinations that I hold close to my heart and often reflect on are backpacking experiences from when I was younger throughout South East Asia and Central America. As a near broke backpacking student, it forced me to step outside my comfort zone and experience these destinations from a humbling perspective allowing me to be more connected and engaged with my surroundings.

Where is your dream destination + why?
K.A: Vienna, because it’s some where I’ve never been, and I’ve heard at Christmas, it is the most beautiful city in the world.
K.L: I dream of going to Israel.

Your must-have travel accessory + why?
K.A: My Molskine, so that I can sketch, or catch an idea before it leaves me. I get so inspired when I travel. Oh, and my ‘Where Chef’s Eat App’ - it offers the most amazing directory to local restaurants.
K.L: We usually travel with our kids, who are 2 and 5, and it is essential that we have something to keep them entertained on the plane:).

Favourite restaurant(s) to dine in other than the ones you've previously designed + why?
K.R: This is a tough one. Over the past seven years, Calgary has made a name for itself for having an incredible food scene. This city has undeniably some of the best talent and visionaries around that continue to push the limits of food and dining experience. One of my all time favourite places to dine in Calgary is Fleur de Sel. The space is small, tightly seated and very intimate. The space is an eclection of personal décor touches throughout made by the owner, the sound of old French music, and the aroma of delicious menu items that have not changed in years.

Favourite menu item at Anju + why?
K.A: The Dolsot Bibimbal (Hot Stone Rice Bowl). It is a warm delicious bowl of heaven, topped with a 63 degree egg.
K.L: The Sunworks Chicken Wings that are gochugang flavor. They’re the perfect blend of sweet and spicy.
K.R: Gochugang chicken wings and Dolsot Bibimbai

What makes Anju stand out from other restaurants in the city?
K.A: It has a great attitude. Anju is doing something different, something fresh, and something delightful.

Architect(s) you admire dead/alive + why?
K.A: Andree Putman, because she was fabulous in every way

What/who influenced your decision to become an architect?
K.A: Coming from a fine arts background, I wanted to do more than just paint pictures; I wanted to create experiences. My love/obsession for the details definitely came from my mother, who created the most beautiful.

K.L: Growing up, I loved helping my Dad in his wood shop. We were constantly creating little ‘projects’ and sketching out how we would make the construction work. It wasn’t until after my first year of University, however, that I decided that this would be my career path. When I graduated Architecture school, I was fortunate enough to work for Jeremy Sturgess at Sturgess Architecture. I watched Jeremy run a successful design business that also afforded him a lot of time with his family, and this was very reaffirming for me.

K.R: Uncle Don. At the age of seven, I would spend hours drawing floor plans and elevations of houses for my uncle Don. I would roll up the ‘blueprints’, stuff them in old Kodiak film cases and sell them to him for a quarter. He would carefully unravel them from the cases, review the ‘blueprints’ and ask for revisions to the plans. Once the revisions were complete, he would commission me for another house with different parameters. Just recently I came across some of these film container ‘blue prints’ that my aunt and uncle saved from my childhood. Looking at these drawings now, I think my floor plans were more resolved then!

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Photo Credit: David Dean |

Art + Colony