NYC and Philly Recap! Crazy Apron Adventures!

Ellen Bennett

New York, New York and the City of Brotherly Love!!! So here's the thing about your dreams: they don't just land on your doorstep in a little bow. It's more like they arrive in a tornado and you have to go and grab 'em, and then make 'em happen. And so every time I go to New York, that's what it's like. It's like a giant tornado dish, you dive in and you find your dreams and make them happen. 

Photo: @ellenmariebennett

I landed at 6:30 AM, slept in my Uber for an hour, ran to my amazing PR, changed, got ready and hit the road for our first appointment at 9 AM! 

Now the crazy part about all of this is that it's still business as usual when I'm out of town: production wants to know about things, marketing wants approval on projects. The ship is sailing, which is awesome because my team is amazing, but it's also totally crazy because you have to figure out how to juggle both. So in between running through parks and running to meetings, that night we juggled it all. 

We were hosting a really special collaboration event with RED, the charity, Dominique Ansel, the rad and amazing pastry chef and man behind the Cronut, plus one of my favorite people ever, Adam Sachs, the editor and chief of Saveur magazine. Being the ridiculous apron squadron that we are, we felt like we needed to enter the Saveur office with a bang! So we spent part of the afternoon, post all of our meetings, creating a gigantic picnic wall installation. Now you're gonna think, what the hell does that even mean?! It means we bought red forks, spoons, plates, straws, and paper and created a gigantic backdrop that was basically a picnic on a wall.

People took photos in front of it all night and it was super fun to have brought a little bit of our apron factory out to NY. The whole night was such a treat and one of those special moments where you really have to look around and say "Hot-damn! This is really special! This is really something that gets you going!" Ya know!

All these people, who are really incredible, celebrating something that you created, something that's more than just an apron. Bare with me while I get all philosophical, but to have a product that can be used by everyone, and to have RED use it to have proceeds go to provide life-saving HIV medicine for 33,000 people with the sales we've made, it's so beyond an apron! It's directly contributing to the world!! Holy cow what a concept!

And to make things even more exciting, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation matched every single contribution that our sales made!!

Our friends from Barbuto, Jonathan Waxman, sent his lovely team, Travis and Co to make delicious bites! Justin Smillie, one of my all time favorite chefs was there!

The next day, I was on a panel with the CEO of RED, Deborah Dugan, as well as Anthony Sasso, and Ben Conniff.

I wore a red dress, check! #onbrand!

On this panel, I couldn't help but think, when I was a little girl and I used to walk by the Gap stores and there was a giant ad that said RED on the walls, I remember that. I've always recognized them and admired them and to now be a part of it, I still can't believe it. One of my friends always says if you can dream it, you can do it and my God, here we were doing it! 

So after we checked that off our bucket list, raised some awareness, grabbed a bag of chips from their mini bar and literally sprinted off into the subway to our next stop in Brooklyn and spent the rest of the night running around to other meetings, having 45 minute moments of silence, where Lauren, my PR co-pilot, and I would space out, go into email land and then snap out of it and return to the real world, talking to each other again. 

As my mama used to say, if you want something done, give it to a busy person. 

From there we ran over to Atla! If you haven't heard of it, now you have and you can thank me later. It's Daniela and Chef Enrique's newest spot in NY. It's delicious, beautiful, crunchy Mexican food. The breakfast is fantastic, the colors are vibrant, we loved it! I walked in, and I saw my girl talking to some famous architect. When she saw me, before you knew it, the restaurant closed for service, and we literally started a dance party in the middle of the restaurant. I guess that's what you do when you're a crazy Mexican and you own the place. 

After our dance party ended, dinner at Lilia commenced with my besties Jesse Tyler and Justin. They were in town and we'd planned to eat our hearts out at Lilia with Missy Robbins; the captain of captains of pasta land in NY. We basically ate the entire pasta menu, all the desserts, every other epic vegetable on there, and we had to roll ourselves home. 

The rest of the trip consisted of a bunch of apron adventures like cooking on the line at Lilia on Saturday night and manning the pasta station, for old times sake. There's nothing like getting your hands in there and not having to worry about anything but the pasta in front of you! Ahhhh!

Jammed in a couple other meetings, hung out with my girl Daniela and Chef Enrique Olvera and then took the train down. We jetted out of NY and took the train down to Philly for Alex's Lemonade.

We've been sponsors for this event since basically the beginning of Hedley and Bennett. Back in the day I attended this event as a line cook with my Chef Michael Cimarusti, and I decided that one day, when H&B had enough money, I would be a part of it and sponsor it, and we have ever since. 

This event is like a family reunion of some of the best chefs around and it's always amazing to see those familiar faces each and every year!

We raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Alex's Lemonade, a foundation to raise money to fight childhood cancer. 

A few eating highlights in Philly: Dizengoff, Goldie, Federal Donuts, and Han Dynasty for an extremely large amount of Chinese food, thanks to Jon and Vinny from Animal. The La Colombe HQ was another great place!  

Here's my short list of spots to go to in NY:





The Butcher's Daughter