If life hands you oil spilt jeans, give it to Stephen Barr.


 Remember aprons? A protective garment used to cover the front of your body in case of any dangers in the kitchen. Dangers can range from slight oil spills to the occasional knife wars between your greasy fingers and your unassuming tippy toes. While working at the Nine Thirty restaurant, one of the things I refused to wear was one of those god awful flame retardant checkered chef pants. I mean, really, if it wasn’t checkered, it was spotted with little chili peppers and maracas as if to caution those around them that they were indeed “hot stuff.” The fashionista in me refused. So I wore jeans and the occasional slacks which by the end of the shift became transluscent with oil stains.

But fashion statements aside, one should wear flame retardant apparel when working in the professional kitchen. The reason should be obvious but if you’re still unclear, I’d like to shift your focus to the following video. It is a PSA from The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario, Canada.

Warning: The video contains highly graphic images. If you can not see the humor in 3rd degree burns, I suggest you skip the video.

If that won’t get kids out of the kitchen, I don’t know what will.

Where was I. Oh right. Aprons.

So this post is dedicated to my dear friend Stephen Barr who is currently residing in New York City!! Before he left us Angelinos, he gave me one of the most amazing gifts I’ve ever received. An apron.

I’ll back up a bit. A long, long time ago my friends and I started a supper club called Gnards (don’t ask). During our Thomas Keller themed night, I had splashed some oil on my jeans while searing some lamb. After screaming in pain from the burn, and then screaming in frusteration for forever ruining one of my favorite pairs of jeans, I calmed down and put on some shorts. Unsure if I was ever going to get the stain out, I carelessly left them at the house figuring I’d get them the next time I came to visit. How wrong was I. A couple of days go by and I get a surprise visit from Stephen. With a bit of ingenuity and a flare for sewing, Stephen took it upon himself to transform my greasy jeans into an apron.

My favorite apron

My initial reaction were more along the lines of

“Are those… omg… did you?..Are those my JEANS?!?!”

I felt like I was a witness to, as Stanford Blatch would say, “fashion roadkill.” Seams were ripped apart with hands that could kill. The pocket my ass grew so fond of, was now having an affair with my front. The waist band that worked so hard to cater to my ever evolving binge behavior and sugar addictions, now sat limp as ever around my neck. I couldn’t believe it. The deed was done and my jeans were gone.

But as soon as I had thought I was holding the corpse of a once beloved pair of jeans, the pockets magically turned into a place to hold my notepad and pen. Belt loops turned into holders for spatulas and whisks. And pant legs would now protect me from the dangers of oil spills! After methodically caressing every bump and stitch on the entire apron as if it were braille, the brilliance, the magic, the irony of the apron all slapped me in the face at once. Not only did Stephen manage to use probably 75% of the jeans, he had hand sewn the damn thing! It’s one of the best presents I have ever received.

So for this holiday season, give your friends your old clothes. Just kidding. But honestly, no Ipod nano or bluetooth head set will ever communicate your true sincerity and love for the person. Well, unless you actually call them on the blue tooth head set and tell them yourself. Irregardless. I”ll take hand crafted thoughtfulness over a new pair of jeans any day!


One Response to “If life hands you oil spilt jeans, give it to Stephen Barr.”

  1. 1 Shanna

    Holy shit, Ames! That was graphic. I like that she did the finger quotes around “accident” though. Genius.

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