If you're thinking of giving Dad a white chef's jacket embroidered with his name, think again. Real cooks wear aprons.
For Father's Day, give Dad something he'll actually use — a rugged apron that will save his good clothes from spatters and smears and at the same time hold a spoon or thermometer or whatever else he needs close at hand in its pockets. Instead of chasing him down to put on something while he's fussing in the kitchen — that worn-out ladies' apron (with ruffles) or the one with a silly SuperDad logo, give him something he might actually wear.
Hedley & Bennett
This Los Angeles-based apron company has so many great choices. You can buy aprons bistro style, tied around the waist, short or long, but for full coverage, get one that wraps from the breastbone to the knee. They come in glorious color combinations — turquoise and coral, orange and yellow, navy and green and much much more, priced from $80 to $126, depending on the fabric — American canvas, Japanese selvage denim, Italian chambray or European linen. Built to last, most have straps, brass hardware, two lap pockets and a single chest pocket designed specifically for Sharpies and plating tweezers. Order online at www.hedleyandbennett.com or pick up one at Monsieur Marcel, Broome St. General Store in Los Feliz, Olive & Thyme in Toluca Lake, or Heath Ceramics in Los Angeles.
Fog Linen Works
This Japanese textile and design firm makes clothing and tableware in buttery Lithuanian linen. I love their minimalist aprons. Full apron, $56, in navy, natural, chocolate, navy red check or linen denim with two front pockets for tools and utensils. Yumiko Sekine, the Japanese designer behind the 10-year-old line, makes a wealth of other linen items too. While you're ordering, pick up a couple of their beautiful linen kitchen towels ($15) too. Order from their Cambridge, Mass., store at (617) 576-1600. Hemingway and Pickett in Silver Lake has a few Fog Linen aprons on sale online. Sur la Table carries the Fog Linen full apron in navy and natural, $49.95.
The retail housewares chain has a heavy-duty cotton apron in deep navy with white vertical pin striping, not all that dissimilar from butcher's apron fabric Fergus Henderson of St. John's restaurant in London had made into the three-piece suit he wears to fancy events. In other words, classic. It has a front pocket and adjustable straps, and at $19.95, this one is a bargain. Check with your local Crate & Barrel to make sure the Carbon Blue Stripe Apron is in stock before rushing out to pick one up for Father's Day.
Artifact Bag Co.
This Nebraska-based bag company makes the very serious Artisan Apron in waxed canvas and leather, $145. A serious investment, yes, but these aprons are designed for people who make things, whether it's bread or pasta sauce, knives or kitchen cabinets. Nobody else in the family will have one like this. They come in slate canvas and black leather, olive canvas and brown leather, or denim and saddle leather with plenty of pockets to stash tools. Made by hand in Omaha, Neb., the aprons (and everything else made by the company) come with a lifetime guarantee.
The ubiquitous cookware store has a handsome yarn-dyed pure linen apron called the Calias Striped apron, $39.95. The store claims the lightweight linen is exceptionally durable and only gets softer and smoother with laundering. They also have a collection of seasonal solid color cotton aprons ($19.95), but nothing beats the cool of a striped linen one. You can also get solid color cotton twill aprons emblazoned with the logo of dad's favorite sports team ($29.95). Available at the nearest store or online at Williams-Sonoma.