Hedley & Bennett, one of LA’s coolest culinary companies, creates beautiful handmade aprons for some of the country’s top chefs. We were lucky enough to chat with their founder, Ellen Bennett, and asked her a few questions about her businesses, LA and a few funny memorable experiences from her days back of the house.
Craziest kitchen experience?
It was basically my first day on the line at Providence and I was moving a pot of 450º oil and I was moving too quickly and splashed hot oil over my entire hand. I had just gotten hired – so instead of yelling or screaming, I silently put my hand down and just switched hands. When I finally looked at it, there was just skin hanging off and all I could think was “OH MY GOD, I’m going to get fired.” I went over to the First Aid Kit without anyone noticing but my sous chef saw and the entire kitchen flipped out “Are you okay!?!” but I was playing it cool like “It’s ok! I’m good!” That’s how I earned my first kitchen stripe. Had to go to the hospital later – it was a second-degree burn, BUT I didn’t want to get fired and had to toughen up. I almost burned half my hand off, but it ended well!
What’s your favorite meal to make?
It depends! I love just going into the refrigerator and doing my own version of Chopped – making something really awesome with whatever bare bone ingredients we happen to have.
I also love cooking up a whole Mexican feast, with all kinds of sauces, meats and everything. It’s a part of my heritage and I really love it.
What’s your favorite restaurant in LA?
If it’s a special occasion, definitely Providence. Not because I worked there but I truly do love the food they create there.
For a casual date night/dinner, I love Hama Sushi in Little Tokyo!
If you could dine with 3 people, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Winston Churchill. I am half-English and half-Mexican and when I think of Churchill, I think of my grandfather. There’s something so regal and timeless about him. He had a perspective and he had a voice and he was going to stick to it. I so admire his ability to say what he felt and do the thing he did, despite others telling him to do otherwise.
Frida Kahlo. Her perspective on life was so different, and I think, so jaded by her illnesses. She was a brilliant artist who wasn’t understood by the world in her lifetime but she had this tenacity and ability to create despite all reasons not to. I admire people who lived their lives differently than others – who go against the grain of usual ways of living.
Thomas Keller. Because I would just love. He’s been around the block, more times than a lot of us combined in the culinary space. He is not only brilliant and talented, but is also a businessman. I really admire his ability to do both- to be creative and business minded at the same time.
How do you take your coffee?
I don’t drink coffee as often as you would think, but when I do, it is a total treat. I love an almond milk latte – it’s like someone slapped a rocket to my back and I get so much more done. But I really do love green tea and I am really excited for La Colombe’s new tea line!
We were delighted to partner with Hedley & Bennett to create these custom barista aprons which you can purchase on our website. And make sure to stop by Apron HQ on Tuesdays and Fridays 10AM – 2PM where you can find us brewing up some delicious coffee – and don’t forget to ask for Janet or Ben!