Chef Alton Brown has always been one of our favorite sources of kitchen inspiration—and it turns out the feeling is mutual.
Alton has been a huge booster of Hedley & Bennett since day one, rocking our aprons, collaborating with Ellen, and paying an occasional visit to H&B headquarters to give us a little genius insight into his culinary process.
That’s why we were so excited to collaborate with Alton once more to create the ultimate apron for home chefs and pros. Packed with throwback details inspired by our OG apron designs, it’s all function and no frills, just like the chef who inspired it.
We talked to Alton about the new design, why he’s a proud H&B fan, and his top tips for home cooks he couldn’t wait to share.
Alton x H&B: A Love Story
Alton has been on board with the Hedley & Bennett mission since day one. In fact, he even dropped by our first pocket sized office space to visit with Ellen and create a custom apron design together, and to this day lists our aprons as one of his “favorite things” (are we blushing?).
“Hedley & Bennet aprons are simply the best aprons I’ve encountered,” he enthused. “Right now I’m wearing an H&B (yes, right now) that is a decade old and honestly it’s aged like a really good pair of jeans. I put it on every day when I come to work even if I’m not cooking … it’s just that practical. And, the pockets are all in the right places.”
So what does Alton love about our aprons? For him, the focus is on our signature blend of what Alton calls, “Quality, durability, and design.” Hedley & Bennett aprons are designed to work hard and look good doing it, standing up to the rigorous environment of a professional kitchen and protect you through your most daunting culinary challenges.
As Alton so wisely put it, the often overlooked apron can be essential in a cook’s creative successes. “People tend to forget that for a cook, an apron is a tool…a critical one,” he said. “I love that H&B never forgets that.”
Alton’s Design Inspiration
Obviously Alton’s OG apron remains a classic, but even the classics are worth updating once in a while. We knew it was time for an update when we realized it had been over a decade since that first custom apron creation session in our original office!
While Alton has worked with us to make aprons for his various ventures, like his awesome Eat Your Science tour, we knew that we were overdue on creating a special design for the man himself, so we worked together to make the magic happen.
Alton’s design definitely drew inspiration from classic Hedley & Bennett principals. These days, we make aprons of all kinds, but back then we had one single design, sewn in small batches and sold by Ellen in restaurant kitchens and farmer’s markets all over LA.
Alton wanted to honor that original inspiration with a throwback design that honored the original H&B apron they dreamed up together in that tiny office. “I’d say this apron was inspired by the very first - very simple - apron H&B made for me nearly 20 years ago,” Alton said.
We went back to the original template to draw details we incorporated into this new vision. The current essential apron has a hidden cell phone pocket, which Alton replaced with a double pen pocket at the chest, whose slightly narrower silhouette gives the design a surprising, sleek appeal.
Also on the chopping block? The towel loop! While many of our favorite aprons have this handy dandy feature, it isn’t one that Alton tends to use in his own cooking practice. Instead of carrying around a towel of his own, he grabs from the ever present stack of bar towels found in every professional kitchen, making the towel loop unnecessary.
So what’s new in the new design? The fabric and print are totally original to this apron, special touches developed by Alton personally to line up with his vision. “It’s a heavier fabric, and the design is taken from the kitchen wallpaper we used on the later seasons of Good Eats,” he explained.
Alton developed the print himself for Good Eats and use on his personal website. We’ve reproduced it in classic black and gray hues that bring a slight midcentury modern vibe to this timeless style.
How to Cook Like Alton
Once you’ve got that apron on, you’re ready to cook like Alton! Well, almost. Before you break out the chef’s knife, we wanted to ask him for his top tips for replicating the Alton Brown cooking experience at home.
Step one? It all starts with what’s in that signature double pen pocket, and there’s a very good reason Alton made sure it would have room to spare. When asked about his apron essentials, Alton said, “I always have a pen and a pencil, matches, a pocket knife, and a chopstick.”
The pen and pencil are perfect for taking notes and marking down adjustments in your recipe as you go, where the chopstick can function like a tong, check oil temperatures, and be used as a general multi purpose poker and prodder keeping your hands safe. The pocket knife and matches keep Alton prepared for any crisis that might arise, perfect for relighting the stove and trimming and adjusting at a moment’s notice.
With your apron equipped, it’s time to stock that kitchen. Alton’s must haves include, “Quarter sheet pans with racks, spring loaded tongs, and paper plates.” Quarter sheet pans are a kitchen classic made more adaptable by the addition of racks, and tongs are great for tossing, lifting, and pinching out a little taste of whatever you’ve got bubbling away on that stove. As for the paper plates—who likes to do dishes? They’re an easy hack that makes hosting far less stressful and more fun.
Alton kept all his essential tools on hand when he stopped by H&B headquarters to whip up his go to breakfast carbonara and test out his new design. Why the carbonara? “Because it’s pasta…for breakfast! I made it because I was hungry,” Alton said.
With eggs, breakfast sausage, and even a take on toast in the form of crunchy breadcrumbs, it’s the kind of modern update on a classic we adore, and the perfect dish to cook in your new Alton Brown x Hedley & Bennett apron. And Alton had one parting piece of advice to offer, “Before you do anything else, sit down and read the recipe twice.”