Every year there’s an item that emerges as the must have for new restaurants and this is the year of the BA Craftmade apron. They are being sported in Uptown’s The Lynhall. Several stands inside Rosedale’s new food hall have them. Even Mangus Nilsson donned one when he was in town last month. Now chefs from Brooklyn and as far away as Australia are calling Kate Meier, a Minnesota native, requesting personalized orders.
Meier didn’t intend to be the apron queen of the Twin Cities, but she has always had an eye for fashion and an uncanny ability to fit clothes to someone with just a simple once over. “I was the first punk in all of Anoka High School,” she said over a caramel roll at Yum! Bakery in Minnetonka. Her first toe-dip into clothing design was in the 90’s when she was asked to put on a fashion show First Avenue, the iconic rock club in downtown Minneapolis. She sewed all the items, without patterns and sold almost all of the garments. Then she filed the experience away in collection of good memories.
Her sons are all in the local restaurant industry — and they’ll argue over who first got her going on the idea of building a better apron. Corey Meier who works at Create Catering said, “We talked about doing something cool.” But then Blake Meier of Fika Cafe will jump in, “No, remember the beet juice stain that wrecked that $120 apron I had?” Meanwhile, Luke Meier of The Kenwood might have been the one that mentioned affordability. Her daughter Emma Meier traced and reworked the logo until it was as badass as her mom. All agree there are two tools can change a chef’s life: a knife and an apron.
Kate Meier is building aprons with durability that rival something a hawker at the state fair would show off. Each has to past a test worthy of an infomercial. Her first apron material was soaked in oil and used to scrub the bottom of her oven before being chucked in the wash. The materials have to hold up to fryer spatter, hold pens and thermometers and stand up to beet juice.
The straps on the aprons fit cross-body, in the back. The standard around-the-neck straps pull and can cause fatigue. She’s also tailored a women’s version like the one Ann Ahmed wears at her new Golden Valley hotspot Lat14 with darts that offers full chest coverage. “I have pastry chefs who say, ‘Thank god, I don’t have to pick which boob to shield from flour.’”
It’s an idea that’s spread like prairie fire. First her boys, then the people they worked with, soon entire restaurants like the forthcoming P.S. Steak. Aprons are also customized, a local artist tattooed the leather on Thomas Boemer’s apron he wears at In Bloom. Another chef has a piece of his mother’s apron discreetly sewn into the inside his smock. Celebrity pastry chef Zac Young of the just-opened PieCaken proudly sports a seersucker apron. “Kate thought I was insane when I asked for this material, but isn’t it cool?” Young is so smitten with the project, he even wore his apron to Real Housewives of New York personality Countess Luann de Lesseps’ house.
The aprons are everywhere, but only available for retail purchase online, at Rose & Loon and at Lowry Hill Meats, where chef/butcher Erik Sather was an early adopter. It was there that Trent Taher first saw them. He was intrigued and ordered several. When he and Meier met in February of this year, he caught on to the excitement. Now he and Meier have teamed up to continue to spread the gospel of the new mousetrap of aprons.
“I feel like I’m doing what a chef does,” Meier said. “You create something and put it out there and then some people will judge it.”