Artisan: [ahr-tuh-zuh n] noun
1. A person skilled in an applied art; a craftsperson.
2. A person or company that makes a high-quality or distinctive product in small quantities, usually by hand or using traditional methods: our favorite local food artisans.
In the food world, we have specialized artisans for everything, from coffee to craft brews. Heck, there are even gourmet, local dog food purveyors. But the art of crafting has extended beyond the plate—most recently, into the humble area of the apron. Gone are the days when you get a generic white apron from the wholesale vendor. Today’s makers are utilizing specialized fabrics, locally sourced materials, and environmentally sound materials to make sure that what’s protecting you from splatters is as special as the ingredients you’re cooking with.
In San Francisco, one of the country’s best food cities, Lundy Way is redefining the apron. The company was started by Chef Renan Ticson, who wanted to supply his fellow chefs with quality but comfortable aprons. He specifically uses re cycled materials sourced in the United States and made only in San Francisco . He then meticulously handcrafts each style; he describes his aprons as “lightweight, simple, durable and straight to the point.”
What really sets Lundy Way apart is Renan’s personal connection to each buyer. His relationships with his clients are deeply personal. Knowing and working with him on a close personal level I have come to know his passion and dedication to his craft, and that’s no secret: in fact, he now supplies a number of Michelin-starred chefs.
In Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, the husband and wife team behind Jones of Boerum Hill are also crafting meticulous cover-ups for cooks. Deirdre and Lestyn were initially inspired by a trip to London—after seeing a range of stylish aprons there, they decided the United States needed a style upgrade in the kitchen. It’s no wonder their aprons are both chic and durable: Deirdre has a background in the fashion industry, while Lestyn hails from construction.
“The focus of our aprons is to utilize components of the highest quality so that they are both durable and beautiful,” Lestyn says. Their aprons are beloved by some of Brooklyn’s hippest food professionals, including Grand Army Bar’s Damon Boelte, who is known to sport their “Bond Street” apron.
Like all cool things in the food world, the most recognized and loved artisan apron maker these days hails from Los Angeles. Ellen Bennett, founder of Hedley and Bennett , practically has a national fan club for her hardworking aprons; most recently, she was mucking it up in the kitchen at the Aspen Food and Wine event alongside what she lovingly calls her “Apron Squad,” which includes superstars like Ludo Lefebv re, Bruce Kalman, and Mich ael Cimarysti.
She knows better than most what chefs need: Ellen started her career by cooking in various kitchens in Los Angeles. She got into the apron game intent on bringing a sense of fun and style into the classic workhorse item. Her team sources their fabrics from around the world, and handcraft each apron by hand in their downtown Los Angeles warehouse. From the brass hardware to the reinforced pockets, each apron is built to last through the rigors of daily kitchen life—which may explain how Hedley and Bennett brand has grown into a national powerhouse in just four years.
In the world of chefs, bartenders and even home cooks, an apron is a necessity. Luckily for us, the stale days of the boring white “culinary school” apron are long gone. As with food and drink these days, there’s no shortage of impressive choices.