Hedley & Bennett is the nineteenth in my Sunday series featuring American Artisans. There are so many exceptionally talented craftspeople, designers, and small companies across this country and this is my chance to introduce them to you. These artisans are creating beautiful, useful and delicious products that elevate the experience of everyday cooking, dining, and entertaining. They’re using skills, techniques, and materials that might otherwise be lost in our era of mass production. Their work makes me happy, and I hope it does the same for you.
Hedley & Bennent is based right here in Los Angeles — they make bright, beautiful, customizable aprons built to handle anything you can dish out in the kitchen. Like so many innovative companies, this one was created to solve a problem… founder and designer Ellen Bennett was working as a line cook and absolutely hated the non-functional, dull-as-dishwater aprons she was required to wear. One day she designed her own version for the chef’s kitchen — and the business took off from there. Now everybody from the hottest chefs and restaurant kitchens in the world, to Food Network stars, to savvy home cooks like you are sporting them.
“Each product is handmade in Los Angeles from start to finish using top grade materials such as American canvas, raw Japanese selvage denim and European linens. These unique pieces posses a quality as high as the clothes they’re meant to protect. Built to last, each fabrication detail has been carefully considered to handle the rigorous daily use experienced in a working kitchen.”
I have to admit that for most of my life I’ve never bothered with aprons, but in the last couple of years I’ve seen the light and I suit up before I do anything in the kitchen. I bravely face splattering onion rings, and polenta geysers, and I don’t think twice about pitting cherries or drizzling chocolate. A good apron is protection from the flame of the stove or grill, too, and they can stand in for a dish towel or a pot holder. If you cook, bake, can, ferment, mix drinks, barbecue, or just clean up after it all, you need a great apron.
Like so many of the creative people featured in this series, Ellen wasn’t satisfied with just making something sturdy and functional…Hedley & Bennett’s aprons are handsome. They custom dye fun, cheery colors in their L.A. workshop and they pay attention to details like brass hardware and fully adjustable straps. They’ve got several different styles of pockets, including a leather one for hot or sharp tools, and one specifically for your phone so it can stay safe and snug while you work. The cut is unisex, but the look ranges from feminine to rugged depending on the fabrics.
I don’t know about you, but I think there’s something decidedly sexy about a man in an apron!
An important theme runs through the artisan companies that I’ve featured here — quality materials matter. Hedley & Bennett sources fabrics that tread the line beautifully between luxurious and durable — heavy canvas, beautiful chambray, and classic denim. They also use recycled materials, (another American Artisans theme) The apron pictured below is made from recycled Sprite bottles! I never get tired of seeing something beautiful made out of something that would otherwise become landfill.
On the Hedley & Bennett website, you can create your own custom apron from scratch (including custom embroidery), or browse their selection of full aprons, bartender aprons, bistro-style aprons, and even aprons for kids. I’d love to know what you find on their site–what’s your favorite apron style? What color would you choose?
*Hint hint…Mother’s Day is next Sunday, May 8th and Father’s Day is June 19th!