Posted by Ellen Bennett
February 21, 2015 • apron squad adventures, dana cohen, gramercy tavern, justin smillie, mark duckor, meetings, michael anthony, net-a-porter, new york, new york city, pizza loves emily, steven alan, upland restaurant
New York, what a freaking adventure! I seriously can’t even believe how it cold it was over there. I mean, I kid you not, I think the first day I arrived, it was the coldest day in the last 20 years or something like that. It was crazy!
I left LA at around 11pm on a red eye and arrived in New York at 7:30 in the morning. Thank God for Uber because the first thing I see when I get my luggage is a taxi line of 40 people. In 10 degree weather! There’s no way in hell I’m going to stand in that line so I call an Uber and less than a minute later he arrives. All I can think is, “This is amazing!”
(my face when my Uber arrives!)
The first item on the agenda is a meal with Dana Cowin, the editor-in-chief of Food & Wine magazine. She is one of the loveliest, simplest and humblest ladies EVER. She is so nice and kind that you would never imagine she’s such a badass. I really enjoyed having breakfast with her. But it really goes to show you that no matter who you are and where you are in the world, you don’t need to be cocky just because you are in charge or this, that or the other. That’s just a silly mindset.
From there, I just hit the ground running with six meeting lined up back to back. I didn’t even have time to stop at the place I was staying! I just lugged my suitcase from meeting to meeting like a turkey, but you know what? That’s what apron ladies do. So it was fine.
My first meeting was a pow wow over coffee with my East Coast Sales Rep, Allie. Then we headed over to Gramercy Tavern for lunch which was SO MUCH FUN. Howard, the awesome, awesome chef de cuisine and his team made such an amazing meal of fish and beautiful salads and the most delicious desserts you’ve ever seen. It was just so lovely. Now all of the chefs at Gramercy Tavern will officially be on the apron bandwagon, pretty happy about that one. :)
Next was Steven Alan’s showroom and headquarters where I met with the buyers who made their selections for which aprons they wanted to do for the season. What’s even more exciting is that H&B is going to be in ALL of their stores, which is super awesome because Steven Alan and his company are one of my favorite American-made companies. I think that what they do is so perfect and on par with what I strive to achieve with H&B. The simplicity of the design is so perfect and uncomplicated, yet so accurately made. The way a t-shirt should be, the way a collared shirt should be, a pair of pants. It’s just spot on. And that is the most brilliant way to design something. You don’t need a million frills to make it right. I admire Steven a lot and so it was awesome to meet with him. And he even helped me lug my suitcase from one of his retail stores to a main office. I mean, come on, what a doll/dreamboat/amazing man.
The day was a series of freezing my ass off, going to a meeting, freezing my ass off, going to a meeting, all while dragging my suitcase around a frozen city. That’s the not-so-glamorous side of being an apron lady. But I survived and I can’t complain--I was in New York meeting with all these amazing people!
My last meeting was with a dear friend of mine at the SoHo House (soon to be outfitted by H&B) who used to work at Net-a-Porter.
Getting in the Kitchen
Despite my jam-packed schedule, I decided that I wanted to cook at Gramercy Tavern. Even though I was exhausted, I thought, “Who cares?! I love cooking at Gramercy, so I’m going to do it!” Honestly, cooking and being in a kitchen has taught me a lot about life and running your own business. It’s one of those things I like to stay connected to it because it keeps me on my toes and it keeps me hustling. It keeps one grounded and working hard and reminding oneself of, “Wow, this is how it is and how to legitimately have a sense of urgency” and there’s no other place that I have ever experienced that has that more than a kitchen. That pure adrenaline when you’re in that environment is so f*ing awesome and I love it.
(me with the Gramercy Tavern chefs)
So I did that for the night. I jumped in there. I helped on the meat and fish section of the kitchen. I helped shuck oysters, plated food, ran around doing anything and everything I could and it was so freaking satisfying. Michael Anthony, the chef of Gramercy Tavern had just flown in from Paris and he was there, so I got to say hi and give him a hug and we started to talk about a cool new project we’re working on together. So I ended my night on a high note before going home to crash!
The next day was Valentine’s Day and I was by myself and I thought, “Who am I going to have Valentine’s with?” I had a major craving for pizza and so I was told I should go to this place called Pizza Loves Emily, so of course, that’s exactly what I did. It’s in Brooklyn,and iit’s so f*ing good, I can’t even tell you. I sat there in the kitchen, as their little chefs table and had a freaking ball, eating two of most delicious pizza’s I’ve ever had in my life (I wish I had that pizza now). They put HONEY on the pizza, who does that? Pizza Loves Emily does!
(me with the Pizza Loves Emily chef)
So while Casey (my other half of the melon) was in Seattle by himself, I was in New York by myself eating (almost) two whole pizzas.
(my amazing Valentine's pizzas)
Then I migrated over to Upland Restaurant, which is owned by a fellow friend of mine, Justin Smillie, who used to be the chef of Il Buco Alimentari. Justin said, “You can come over, cook, eat and help out!” I ended up showing up to the restaurant extremely late--if you’re ever considering practicing in a kitchen, you don’t roll in at 8pm, but I did (not on purpose though, I had taken the train back from Brooklyn and it took FOREVER!!. I finally arrived and I had my H&B chef coats with me, and I had one of the aprons I’m testing out so I was ready to go. Justin asked me where I wanted to start my cooking and I chose pasta of course! This place is producing some incredible pasta, so it was such a treat to see how it was done, learn how they craft their pasta and actually participate in making it. By the end of the night, I had gotten my hands on every single pasta dish on that station and was pushing out dishes to the guests... the sous chef said that he would have hired me (insert emoji smile face) haha
(with chef, Justin Smillie (left) at Upland Restaurant)
On Sunday, I got to meet Matt Duckor who’s the restaurant editor of Epicurious. He’s so funny and so fun-- getting to meet someone you know from a magazine or instagram or any other media places is always a toss up. People can be total wierdos or incredible humans, he happened to be the latter. Later, I went to the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, it was sensational to say the least. Talk about having some beautiful art and displays. Just really got me thinking about how complicated some stuff is, yet how simple design really should be, and how people make it so complex.
That night I went to Estela and had probably one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten in NYC. And that IS an understatement! It is so incredible. They have this panna cotta dish that was champagne vinegar, honey, salt, on top of the simplest panna cotta that was not overly sugary and holy moly I enjoyed it!!!!
Monday Run Day
Monday morning was a rush since it was my last day in NYC so I had a lot to pack in. I got to swing by ABC Home, which is one of my favorite stores of all time and also a beautiful place to get inspired. If you’re ever in New York you must go to ABC Home. It will knock your socks off. I even got to see Dan Kluger, who was the chef of ABC Kitchen, and now he is starting his own venture, which is very exciting. Then popped into the Soho House for a quick meeting with the wonderful chef there, stuffed my cheeks while we talked business, aprons and then some and after that, hit the ground running because I had to pack and get myself to the airport! My final treat though needed to happen... I rushed over to the Spotted Pig and inhaled their burger which I must say was... P.E.R.F.E.C.T.
I flew home that night! Casey picked me up and we got home at around 1am. I still woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed the next morning and ran from my house to Downtown LA, where the apron HQ is located because I am training for the LA Marathon, which is happening next month!
So those were my apron lady adventures in New York City, and I really wanted to share it with you to give you a behind the scenes look at my one of my apron lady adventures :) xx