Alton Brown is a fan. So is chef and Top Chef judge Michael Cimarusti, along with a host of other famous chefs. They all love and wear Hedley & Bennett aprons, handmade in Los Angeles by 25-year-old Ellie Bennett.
Ms. Bennett found a niche — chefs, cooks, carpenters, artisans of all kinds, looking for stylish, high-quality, yet really functional aprons — and responded by starting Hedley & Bennett. As she tells Nalata Nalata in this interview, during culinary school she "always hated the ugly aprons we were required to wear in the kitchen, so I wanted to create something that I was excited to wear… in a way to be stylish in the kitchen." The standard chef aprons are black or white, and usually made of polyester ("hot and uncomfortable," Bennett says here), so she took everything she hated about those aprons and flipped it around for the Hedley & Bennett line.
Hedley & Bennett aprons are made of reversible and washable Japanese selvedge denim, linen, or chambray. They're also longer and wider than typical aprons, with big pockets, and totally customizable, so if you want longer straps or lower pockets, you can have it! Each apron also has a fun name attached to it, usually named after someone Ms. Bennett knows, the style of fabric, or a famous chef or type of food.
Alton Brown even designed a special apron for Hedley & Bennett, which is available through OpenSky ($75). His H&B apron has a double chest pocket ("so that you can have a pen pocket but also a wine key or tweezers for plating in the one right next to it") and a towel loop ("a must have for any Alton apron").
Ms. Bennett now has 10 employees to help her run Hedley & Bennett, and will be producing reversible skull caps, knife and tool bags, and children's aprons sometime in the future!
1. Mr. Rogers, $78
2. J. Dory, $85
3. Pedalor's Fork, $98
4. Abalone, $85
5. Fish Stick, $73 (backordered)
(Images: Hedley & Bennett)