Makers

Baking pies, stuffing crabs & aprons with Melissa Martin of Mosquito Supper Club.

By Tippi Clark

Baking pies, stuffing crabs & aprons with Melissa Martin of Mosquito Supper Club.

"I love bringing people together at a table. A table where I can take other people's works and nudge them together on a plate." says Chef Melissa Martin of Mosquito Supper Club, who's defined her career around sustainability. 

Interview and story by, Tippi Clark

Melissa Martin, 39 is a New Orleans based chef and the super woman behind Mosquito Supper Club, a culinary glimpse into growing up in the Terrebonne Parish, on Bayou Petit Caillou in Chauvin, Louisiana. 

Every Thursday it's the same formula for Mosquito Supper Club:  one chef,  12-24 diners (reservation only),  a sustainable + authentic Cajun family style supper that is composed of five courses using the most fresh and local ingredients from all around Louisiana with Cajun story telling and music (played softly on a record player, where she often invites guests to flip the record when it ends or to go pick another).

Melissa grew up in a neighborhood surrounded by family: her parents, grandmother, four aunts and uncles and five siblings. It was there she learned from the women in her family all about beauty and grace and what it means to seamlessly cook a large amount of food for a lot of people. The family is also comprised of long line of shrimpers, oyster fishermen, alligator hunters, crabbers and trappers. Because of this, she celebrates the bounty of those local ingredients that define her dinners. 

Our photo shoot and tiny interview took place last week on a un-seasonly warm Spring afternoon in the Mosquito Supper Club dining room staged specifically for strawberry pie making. Before the photoshoot I had agreed to scour the Uptown Neighborhoods that are known for their beautiful cherry blossom trees for any low hanging flowered cherry blossoms that could be trimmed and arranged for table settings.  I also helped set and arrange the tables for dinner which felt like honor, because I know what it is like to sit at that table for the first time and enjoy that supper and hear the stories with the company that surrounds you on those evenings. 

 

Where did you learn about sustainability as a chef and become the beautiful story teller that you are today?

I attended Loyola University in New Orleans for English literature and writing but after the Storm my writing program was cancelled (*Katrina 2005) and it was then I began exploring the world of food in catering.  Then I took a deeper dive in Napa where I really began an education in seasonal cooking, and what it meant to use all local, seasonal ingredients. I hadn't really been exposed to that in a restaurant setting before California. After Nappa, I came back to New Orleans and really began think about the amount of waste that can be created through a restaurant. It's heart breaking.

I've always loved making lists and checking things off, working with my hands, and I'm just more logistically organized at putting things in their place in the kitchen. I love bringing people together at a table. A table where I can take other people's work and nudge them together on a plate. 

photo: Jonny Rosenbloom

What is your favorite memory of someone wearing an apron? 

It would definitely have to be from the Lagniappe on the Bayou Festival that took place in Chauvin, LA growing up. It was a local fair that took place once a year and everyone had a booth at this festival. From shrimp boulettes, turtle sauce piquant, raw oysters, black berry dumplings.. it was all there. My family had an ice cream stand called, Là Creme à Sam named after my parrin (*god father) and we would run it as little kids. Every year the festival would come out with a new apron and tshirt design, we would all wear them!  Someone recently found an apron and gave it to me. I wish I could find it! The festival ended in 1994, right before I turned 18 and I was of drinking age! 

Recently, Mosquito Supper Club has added "Houseboat Private Parties" to it's repertoire, which is very exciting! Can you tell us a little bit about this new adventure?

Sure! Our houseboat is located in the Atchafalaya Basin on Henderson Levee Road and our first dinner launches the second weekend of March! We're officially open for business! The food I love to cook is apropos to dining on a screened in porch overlooking the bayou. We can seat 6-8 people and its a perfect escape from the city to enjoy the day in nature and then spend the evening dancing the night away next door at Whisky River, a live cajun & zydeco dance that happens every Sunday afternoon.

You can find out more information about how to book your reservations for the houseboat here

Photo: Jonny Rosenbloom

We designed the bib aprons specifically for you to cook and host in based off of an apron you got in a thrift store. Can you give me the history on that apron and the functionality of why you like that design so much?  

To be specific the thrift store apron is bright red, with the name "Helen" stitched crudely on the front in white thread and has been washed a million times.  The genius of that apron is that it's simple adjustment mechanism allows you to adjust using the straps that tie around the back through channels in the arm holes. It's very comfortable but not very attractive. 

I love that you guys used the arm hole / strap adjustment mechanism partnered with a light weight canvas. It's a very flattering fit and still comfortable, short and round at the bottom almost like a dress. I can never buy a bib apron off the shelf and wear it without having to tie it up a million ways or use a rubber band to tighten the straps in the back. Love it!

Cooking coats never fit small women either! 

Photo: Jonny Rosenbloom

We love the longer apron on you too, especially when you're holding an alligator scull. Where did you get that?!

My uncle George, he hunted that alligator! 

Who is your hero and why?

My mother first and foremost, she showed me how to make something out of nothing.

Our Holt McCall x Mosquito Supper Club aprons will soon be available online and at Mosquito Supper Club for preorder starting next week. Stay Tuned! 

You can find out more information on how to book a seating at the next Mosquito Supper Club dinner here! 

 

 

 

 

 

  

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The dynamic duo behind Coutelier NOLA, Jacqueline Blanchard and Brandt Cox

By Tippi Clark

The dynamic duo behind Coutelier NOLA, Jacqueline Blanchard and Brandt Cox

Jackie, 32 is from South Louisiana and grew up along Bayou Lafourche in Assumption Parish. She got her bachelor's degree in culinary arts at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, LA. After graduation (and Hurricane Katrina) in 2006, she moved to Napa Valley to work for Thomas Keller at The French Laundry and Bouchon. She later went on to work at Frasca (Boulder, CO), Blue Hill at Stone Barns (Westchester, NY), and Restaurant August (New Orleans, LA) as exec sous chef. It was during her four years at August that she met Brandt .

Brandt, also 32 is from North Mississippi, grew up in Oxford. He attended Ole Miss, and after college, he worked in a few restaurants in his hometown, quickly moving up the ranks. He then decided to attend the French Culinary Institute in NYC where he got his formal culinary training, as well as being among the opening staff at David Burke's Town House. After graduation, he headed to New Orleans to take a position at Restaurant August. There, he met Jackie. This is where their story begins.

During their time together in SF, they lived across the street from Town Cutler, a small, curated knife shop with a sharpening service. They began to frequent the shop, using their sharpening service weekly and getting to know the owner, a former chef, Galen. This became the inspiration for the inception of Coutelier. They began to ask themselves why New Orleans did not have the kind of shop that catered to culinary professionals, as well as the serious home cooks of South Louisiana, and offered quality gear for cooks as well as sharpening and repair services, given the immense culinary footprint of the city. They decided it was time to work for themselves, even if that meant not opening the restaurant they wanted right away. 

Coutelier NOLA opened it's doors in the early Fall of 2015 and is New Orleans's first professional-grade kitchen cutlery store, serving professional chefs and dedicated home cooks alike. Also, supporting local makers in the kitchen product category (Holt McCall aprons + Tchoup Industries knife rolls). 

What is your first memory of someone wearing an apron?

Jackie: I have the fondest memories of cooking with my maw-maw, Marilyn. She wore a short tan apron with blue and creme flowers on it with worn pockets.

Brandt: My grandmother made her living waiting tables in a small country kitchen in Selmer, TN.  I always remember the short, black bistro aprons that she would wear while tending to her many hungry guests.

We designed aprons specific for your shop based off of an apron Jacqueline got in Spain. Can you give me the history on that apron and the functionality of why you like that design so much?  

Jackie: The aprons we based our design off of were the aprons that the cooks wore at the famed 3 Michelin star, El Bulli (Roses, Spain). Which is now closed. Years ago, my friend did a season there, so I gave him one of my French Laundry aprons for one of his El Bulli aprons. I loved it for it's light, sleek design and simplicity. It quickly became my favorite apron. It was easy to adjust, it fell at my chest in just the right place, the sillouette was slim and sleek, and the small brass grommets gave just the right amount of industrial flare. It was just long enough and it didn't bunch up (I hate when you constantly have to re-tie and re-adjust an apron as your movements compound in a kitchen). The apron performed and functioned effortlessly in a fast paced, unforgiving environment. So since Ferran Adria has closed El Bulli, I wanted to pay tribute to that apron in our design with Holt/McCall. We added the pocket for easy access to pens, sharpies, and tweezers.

 

Having spent a lot of time in Japan training knife sharpening skills and all culinary and cultural aspects, what can you tell me about the Japanese apron culture and history? We're so intrigued by their beautiful lines, fabrics and designs.

Jackie: In Japan, apron culture is real. The kappogi apron was originally introduced in the early 1900's as an apron to cover the kimonos most women wore on a daily basis. It's almost like a gown slip with baggy sleeves. 

After several trips to the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, we noticed that the fish mongers were wearing aprons almost identical in shape and design to the El Bulli apron... they were just made of a vinyl material rather than fabric to repel the blood and scales from fish mongering. Same straps, grommets, and sillouette. I often wonder if that's where El Bulli's apron design originated. My dear friend Keiko, who is a Japanese chef, has a very distinctive apron that she always wears at her restaurant in Tokyo, Mique.

 

We love the vintage spoons for sale in your shop, can you please tell us a little bit about the tasting spoon as a chef's tool and where you get your spoons?

Cooks can have the same affinity for vintage spoons as they do for knives... both are imperative tools in daily use and both are extensions of your hand. I'm probably crazier and more protective of my spoon collection that I am about my knives. I've spent years collecting them from around the world, looking for very specific shapes, bowl depth, how it tapers to a point, etc... the ones you can just crush a one-handed quenelle with, or baste the fuck out of a piece of fish or meat. The patina is very important, it shows age and character. It ages with you. Some of my most prized spoons came from flea markets in France. I look for the stamped sterling kind with a deep bowl and dramatic tip on the end. Needless to say, I pride myself on my spoon game. If I lost a spoon during service, shit would shut down till I found it. So when we opened the shop, I wanted to make curating vintage plating spoons a feature because I know what most cooks are searching for in an epic plating spoon. It's important; and the great ones are hard to find. I have a friend who lives in the south of France who helps me find the cherries... she knows what I'm looking for.

How does living in NOLA influence your work as chefs and as shop owners?

Living in NOLA, I think we can create a dichotomy of being shop owners as well as continuing to build our upon our craft as chefs. It gives us a unique opportunity to be plugged in in so many aspects of our industry. We can take this time to work on the techniques we may not have had time to previously dial in, given the rigor of a chef's schedule. We can explore other avenues that will ultimately define our cuisine, which is one of the hardest things for a chef to do. We have become particularly enamored and influenced by Japanese cuisine and culture as of late, so I see that coming through in the food I want to make. It's not Asian... it's Japanese. We are still given the opportunity to cook on a frequent basis through events, private dinners, etc. So just because we own a knife shop, does not mean we are any less engaged in our craft of cooking - the hours are just way better. Quality of life is of the utmost importance to us. We now are in a business that allows us to travel to Japan regularly which is one of the most fulfilling aspects of what we do. We become more seduced by Japan day after day. It's ancient, mysterious, efficient, humble, enticing, beautiful, respectful, enriching, haunting, and delicious. It's not just about the knives for us, it's about the food and making the most of the time you have on this earth. It's short. Do what makes you happiest, or as we say in NOLA, "do whatcha wanna". I think we've found that in Coutelier.
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Featured aprons shown in photo: The reversible denim and railroad striped chef apron worn two ways.
 

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Alabama, in a jiffy dill pickle chips

By Tippi Clark

Alabama, in a jiffy dill pickle chips

Starting a new business with partners is much like trying to make a dish using several different versions of a recipe. Some things work and some things don't. Some versions are better than others, and all and all in the end it will take a lot of trial and error to get it right. Sometimes you have to lose an ingredient, but in the end you just have to trust your gut and  keep going to make it happen. This is the just beginning of Holt McCall with our first 8 aprons & 5 makers. Thanks so much to my partner (s) for all your hard work this Spring/Summer to launch this thing, and thanks to all the makers & artists (past, present and future)! You are why we are doing this. Thanks for creating and giving us something to create for you!

For the novice pickler, here is our no canning rack required, Alabama, In a jiffy dill pickle chips.  This canning recipe is a remix from a southern Bapist Bounty cook book from the 80's (a collection of family recipes from Opelika, AL) and an old family treasure recipe card. We recommend you slice your cucumbers 1/4 inch thick using a chef's knife. We also recommend you check out our favorite local knife shop Coutelier NOLA  for an amazing selection of all things knives and kitchen awesomeness. AND make sure you heat your 1 pint glass jars PRIOR to filling it with hot brine so they don't crack. We learned that the hard way, dang it!  Also, be sure to choose the freshest, firmest cucumbers for the best of the best crunch. We got ours at the downtown Crescent City Farmer's market. Open every Saturday from 8 -12pm.

Alabama, in a jiffy dill pickle chips

 prep 10min/ cook 5min/ pickle 3hours/ yield one 1-pint jar

3/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar

1/4 cup water

1 garlic clove, peeled and halved

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/8 teaspoon black peppercorns

1/8 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

8 ounces pickling cucumbers, ends trimmed, sliced 1/4 inch

2 sprigs fresh dill

1. Bring vinegar, water, garlic, turmeric, peppercorns + mustard seeds to boil in a medium sauce pan.

2. Place one 1-pint jar under running hot water until heated through, about 1 min. Pack cucumbers and dill into hot jar. Pour hot brine over cucumbers (ladle and funnel recommended). Leave about 1/2" space at the top, and use a wooden skewer to remove air bubbles by sliding skewer along inside of jar and pressing on cucumbers.

3. Cover jar with lid and refrigerate for 3 hours before serving. (pickles can last up to 6 weeks).

* next week we'll share a DIY garden project, recycled spoon markers for your herb garden from The Little Veggie Patch Co.

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Hayley Gaberlavage - Artist and Portrait Painter

By Tippi Clark

Hayley Gaberlavage - Artist and Portrait Painter

“Wearing an apron means it’s ‘go time’ and it’s my uniform. Wearing an apron is also a mental thing, because it’s time, no excuses. I’m ready to work.” Says Hayley Gaberlavage.

Interview and Story by, Mary Ladd 

Hayley, 38 is an artist and portrait painter trained at the Savannah College of Art and Design and the University of Alabama. She is a native of Alabama and in 2014 Complex Magazine named her as one of twenty New Orleans Artists You Should Know. Hayley spent the last six years developing her quirky painting skills in NOLA, where she met her husband Ben Massey. He is an architect and accomplished wood worker, and early this summer the talented duo began an exciting new chapter in Savannah, Georgia. 

As a storyteller, Hayley finds inspiration from the vibrant hues and colors of the beach, which often show up in bold strokes in her work. She also favors the look and details from vintage Kodachrome photographs from the 1950s and 60s sourced from antique stores.  Her work is an able expression of the historical combined with modern details and color accents in the form of look-at-that eyewear, lush floral headpieces, or bright red lipstick. The vintage photos form the basis of many of Hayley’s portraits. Her signature palate includes shades of sea foam green, vibrant shades of blue and turquoise, as well as subdued tones on an unfinished background. They embrace the old timely past while celebrating community, people and characters of all ages.

How did you become the artist that you are today?

I’m just drawn to observing people.

Accessories like glasses, flowers, masks and pipes are mainstays of your portraits. Color as well. What advice can you give to people in choosing these for daily life? How do accessories work as devices for expression?

Go with your gut, and figure out what do you need to pull out of yourself. Plus, you should look for balance.

My home décor is minimal and serene. In New Orleans when you’re walking around, it’s bright and vibrant and loud. When I’m upstairs hanging with my husband, the set up is very modern, with lots of blacks and whites and greens. When I get back into the studio, I go crazy with color. For a lot of artists, their art translates into their everyday décor. I go for some kind of balance with work and life away from work because I’m surrounded by my art.

What does wearing an apron mean to you?

Wearing an apron means it’s ‘go time’ and it’s my uniform. Wearing an apron is also a mental thing, because it’s time, no excuses. I’m ready

I have my really dorky Crocs that I would never wear out in public, but they’re my work shoes and wearing them is another sign that it’s time to work.

Holt McCall designed these aprons specific to your style of painting. How did they get to that design and what is your favorite detail?

The Artist's Half Apron is designed to be like a mini skirt with a tennis skirt/ sporty vibe. And, the Artist's Bib Apron offers a comfy yet stylish crisscross “slip over your head” mini dress option. These thoughtful designs make me feel like I’m wearing a uniform or a cute outfit.

The lightweight, textured fabric allows me to easily wipe paint off my fingers. I can even leave the apron on when I’m running a quick work related errand or two.

My favorite detail is definitely the kangaroo pouch pockets. I don’t need a lot of bulky pockets when I’m painting. These cute, hand pouch pockets lie flat and have enough room for my cell phone, along with a paintbrush or two.

What work are you the most proud of?

My Southern Vice show was based on Southern characters with a lot of people eating, drinking and smoking. It is a visual representation of the New Orleans influence and how people here love to indulge on a lot of food and drink. It was a love story to New Orleans and my last big body of work.

 What’s your dream work space for painting?

I’d want a studio that’s on the beach because I’m such a beach bum. The dream space would be full of natural light. My life goal is to have a modern house and studio on the beach. I’m excited to move to Savannah, which is a place that I can go to the beach for a day trip. That chills me out a little bit.

Why do you think there seems to be a resurgence of local makers in America?

With the Internet & technology and being able to put your artwork out there, it’s easier. You can show your work through Etsy and there are all these great websites that let you do your dream and craft. That in turn lets more independent artists show instead of having to rely on corporations. It means that people can support themselves.

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Emily Eberwine - Floral Designer Gardner

By Tippi Clark

Emily Eberwine - Floral Designer Gardner

"I always wear an apron. It’s sort of like my game face, along with when I get into serious mode. " Emily Eberwine said. “Wearing an apron puts me in the place I need to be and is a representation of my personal style.”

Interview and Story by, Mary Ladd 

Emily, 36 is a floral designer and gardener who first fell in love with the beautiful landscape of Mississippi’s Gulf Coast growing up. Time in her mother’s lush and vibrant garden shaped Emily’s love for floral beauties such as trumpet vines, English ivy, daisies, hibiscus, and marigolds. As a licensed florist and owner of Pick-a-Petal in New Orleans for the past four years, Emily expertly creates floral pieces with brilliant bursts of texture balanced by color. Being a gardener means that Emily is able to incorporate grass, berries, twigs and other non-flowering items throughout her arrangements.

When she is gardening, foraging and creating each day, Emily is motivated to make something that offers pleasure and surprise. Her floral designs involve celebratory events that range from weddings and baby showers, to delightfully relaxed dinner parties, home and garden tours as well as big events for businesses and non-profit agencies.

Your mom taught you. Did she wear an apron?

My mother had this apron that was white. In the seventies and eighties, she’d always pull it out for the holidays. It was frilly on the sleeves and I remember thinking it was pretty, wonderfully Southern and fancy. I can’t remember if it got dirty or not (laughs).

How did you become the floral designer and gardener that you are today?

This is what I always wanted to do. I never thought I could make a career with it. I got a lot of amazing feedback when I first started as a side hobby, so I looked more into how to go about starting this as a job and career.

What does wearing an apron mean to you? Do you always wear an apron when you work? Why?

I always wear an apron. It’s sort of like my game face, along with when I get into serious mode.

My husband will laugh and say, “Alright, you’re getting into the mode," when I have the apron on. Wearing an apron puts me in the place I need to be and is a representation of my personal style. It also represents my business.

What’s your dream work space?

I’d love a rooftop garden with a small indoor studio and a walk in cooler. With that set up, I can have access to both the outdoors and indoors, along with a nice view.

What people, places and things are integral to your work?

I have supplies like my scissors of various sizes.

I also need floral tape, which works magic and is my favorite tool. It has this weird stickiness that stays on your fingers. You can pull anything off with floral tape. I love it.

I have a few local friends who are in the floral business. We all share things, which is great when you’re in a pinch.

Holt McCall designed these aprons specific to your style of floral arranging & foraging. How did they get to that design and what is your favorite detail?

I had two big projects and was able to test the prototypes in the studio and onsite.

Some of my trimmers are smaller so having a skinnier pocket that is deeper will mean there’s not anything sharp sticking out if I’m on a ladder, or something.

There is also space for my specialty tools.

For the material, it’s nice that I can wipe my hands on it, but not leave green stains behind. 

I love that the apron is comfortable to wear. Comfort is key and by wear testing it, I saw that it definitely had comfort for the studio, on the ladder and on the farm.

What are your favorite details? Tell me about the fabric and why it works for your craft.

 One was for when I was in the studio working with actual flowers and building things. The other was for foraging and going out to collect things like vegetables, berries and twigs.

The studio apron is a longer breathable version, with a slit in the front. That slit detail gives the apron a more feminine look and feel, while making it less like a butcher-type apron. There’s a nice little side pocket to put my hand in and store specific scissors. I’m a big pocket person. I’m a lady who likes pockets in my dresses.

The second apron is for foraging. It started with a large baggy elastic pocket and evolved into a more secure, structured expandable pocket with a button to keep it secure when empty. With the button, it looks super cute.

In the world of flowers & foraging, who is your hero and why?

I really adore the work of Francoise Weeks. She works out of North America now and builds things that are inspired by nature that can look like a woodland forest in a bouquet. She brings nature directly into whatever she builds, and that’s very inspirational.

How does living in New Orleans influence your work?

Living here is constant inspiration because things are always green here. Something is typically always in season and blooming. There’s tons of color. When the jasmine comes out, I’ll use it.

Standing under the trees in the morning in the sun with the dog at the park is inspiration. When I see a vine growing through a gate, it gets me thinking, “Oh, I want to play with vines”.

 If you weren’t a floral designer and gardener, what would you be? Would that involve wearing an apron?

I’m living my dream. I’d love to have a dog rescue farm and wear an apron and carry little treats for the dogs.

Why do you think there seems to be a resurgence of local makers in America?

It’s nice to support friends and neighbors that create and do what they adore. I have so many friends who now work for themselves doing what they want to do, what they’ve always loved. You can see what your natural talent may be and see what you can make a career out of. It’s a pretty cool thing.

What work are you most proud of?

I built this amazing flower chair for an interior designer named Rivers Spencer. We covered it with flowers and it was really beautiful to see art in bloom.

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Matthew Holdren - Woodworker & Fabricator

By Tippi Clark

Matthew Holdren - Woodworker & Fabricator

“I really enjoy wearing an apron because it makes me feel a little more attached to the craft and puts me back into a different time.” Says Matthew Holdren.

Interview and Story by, Mary Ladd 

Matthew, 36, is a self-taught woodworker & fabricator who has worked with wood ever since he built his first tree house at age seven. His custom furniture has been shipped to customers around the world, and he has worked on several stylish and noteworthy NOLA restaurants and stores. One exciting current project melds the personal, creative and functional. He is restoring a building that will house both his studio and living space. 

Your dad made ski homes in Vermont, where you grew up. You learned your trade by making tree houses from ages 7 to 16. How did that help you learn the trade and spark your interest in re-salvaging wood?

I started tree house building because my dad was bringing wood home and I’d re-purpose it. My mom had an antique store and we’d go to the dump and pull out cool stuff. We’d build bikes and make skis. I got the idea of salvaging and reusing from my parents. This was way before it was a trend and cool. 

Why is having a booth at the Jazz Festival so important to your business?

You don’t need a retail store if you vend at Jazz Fest every year. It's opened the doors to a couple of jobs outside of New Orleans and even outside of the country. 

It’s an incredible experience and I’ve been vending for five years now. It’s really the only time that I meet potential clients and they see my work. I get feedback and reactions, and it's super humbling and an overall cool experience.

My mom has come down all five years. She had a graphic design firm and antique store and loves to talk to people. We are a great team.

What is your first memory of someone wearing an apron?

My grandfather wore an apron and it was always hanging up in his shop. Growing up I spent a lot of time there. It was faded denim and made out of what he would call his old “dungarees.” 

He was just as much, if not more of a mentor than my father. They both taught me. When I was around six or seven years old my dad got a new tool belt. I have a fond memory of him and his friends dragging it behind his pickup truck on a dirt road. I later asked him why and he told me that if he had gone to work with a new one like that, he would have be made fun of!

What does wearing an apron mean to you? 

I really enjoy wearing an apron because it makes me feel a little more attached to the craft and it puts me back into a different time.

What’s your dream work space?

I’m building it right now. It’s a 1850s large old tenement building that I bought. I’ll have my shop in the bottom and I’ll live upstairs. It’s two stories and a loft.

What role does art & woodworking have in society?

Personally, it’s my outlet and my way of expressing myself. For a lot of artists and woodworkers that I know, it’s our outlet as well as our way of life and business. I think it’s super important that art and design push things forward but we don't forget about what came before. I like to do traditional things, and I call myself more of a fabricator than a woodworker.

It’s more about the design and the materials for my work. I always think of my dad who does super refined work. Mine is a little more forgiving.

What are your favorite details about your Holt McCall aprons?

One is a waist style nail pouch made from wax canvas, which gives it a durable, wear and tear feel. It's a simple set up with just a nail pouch and hammer hook. I’ll load it up with screws. It's convenient and lightweight.

The other is a full chest apron made from denim. It moves easily and is not restrictive, especially around the armpits. I love that it's short and not flapping around my legs. I like aprons but won't wear one that's too restrictive.I also love that I can hold a hammer, pencils and a tape measure now while also listening to podcasts. It’s nice to have my phone on my chest in its pocket, and the apron keeps the wires from tangling. It's also super convenient for when I want to answer the phone.

 Who is your hero and why?

My grandfather. It goes back to my mom, he taught all three of his daughters how to fix cars and go on calls. He and my mom both have this 'can do' attitude. They worked hard and got somewhere. She’s more creative and they both taught me a lot.

What’s your favorite woodworking tool and why?

A random orbiting palm sander. There’s a lot of sanding in what I do. You can’t run a lot of this wood through machines. You have to physically work it through sanding.

How does living in New Orleans influence your work?

Everything about this town is important. As I’ve lived here, I’ve gotten to enjoy the material more. Things started when I was a carpenter and working with the patina and roughness of the wood. Then I started putting things together in different shapes and styles.

It’s laid back here, which is great. For the most part there are happy people and if you hustle, you can get a lot further than other places. There’s a chance here to really make a name for your self. Most of my work is all word of mouth. Reputation matters. If I’m not nice or do something bad, word will get around.

Why do you think there seems to be a resurgence of local makers in America?

I don’t know if I buy into the maker culture. People have always been doing this. Maybe there’s more networking now? There’s a response to everything being modern and people are in cities, isolated and with technology.

I’m totally all for it. I grew up in Vermont where people farm and build houses. I had goats and sheep and now it’s back to the farm.

Holt McCall designed aprons specific to your craft of Woodworking and Fabricating. How did they get to that design and what is your favorite detail?

I got a few prototypes and wore one in the shop and then one when I was working in the house. We talked about what I wanted and then I later saw the finished product.

On the bib apron, I love the sideways pocket on the right and the reversible denim. There’s stripe denim on the back that gives it a little pop.

On the wax canvas, there’s an Army green checkered pattern that is pretty cool.

What work are you the most proud of?

I just finished a restaurant that was completely my design and build. It’s called Blue Oak BBQ, it's a BBQ spot where you get in line. I had to work out the design of how the people in line for BBQ would flow through the restaurant. That was really exciting! 

I was also really proud of Ursa Major, another restaurant that is now closed.

I also just finished a retail store. Those kinds of projects are great.

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