With grease popping up from pans, savory sauces splashing around and a host of other foods flying from one surface to the next, it can be tough staying clean in the kitchen. But a new line of upscale aprons aims to stop stains in their tracks.
Earlier this year, restaurateur, cookbook author and two-time Top Chef cheftestant Angelo Sosa launched AOSbySOSA aprons for chefs and artisans, which are created in San Marcos. In addition to the apron line being based in North County, the chef, who was the runner-up in Season 7 of Top Chef and returned the next season for the All-Stars edition, made San Diego his home.
Sosa, who has an infectious laugh, recently chatted with PACIFIC over cups of java at Lofty Coffee in Solana Beach, and the topics ranged from moving to Southern California and launching AOSbySOSA (AOS stands for “Art of Simplicity”) to meditation and the importance of philanthropy.
When did you move to San Diego?
After Poppy Den (an off-Strip Asian-fusion restaurant at which Sosa was chef/co-owner), I went back to New York City, where I lived for a year. I wanted to be in a warmer climate and next to the beach, so I moved here over a year ago and started fresh. Over the last year, I’ve learned a lot and had a lot of great lessons and teachings.
You meditate every morning in Carlsbad now?
That’s why I was late (laughs). I was in New York City for 15 years, 16 including the last year, and there it’s the grind — the hustle and bustle, that was my experience of it. When I lived in Las Vegas, I lived near Red Rock Canyon, and it was so beautiful — I wasn’t accustomed to (the beauty). I was used to going to work, going home, going to work, going home, that was my routine (in New York).
Coming out here, I’m more connected to nature than I’ve ever been. With meditation, I wanted to find that inner peace, and meditation has been the conduit to it. I go to the lagoon in Carlsbad, and it’s my sanctuary.
Tell me about your new line of aprons. What was the inspiration for them?
I’m so excited. Coming out West was like a resurrection for me, letting go of the past and creating something new. When we talk about meditation and creativity, I feel like I’m so connected to me, and I’m able to create what is within me.
We created this beautiful line about seven months ago; it’s called AOS — Art of Simplicity. That mantra is something that was indoctrinated in me working for four years with Jean-Georges Vongerichten (James Beard Award-winning French chef). He was about the ingredient comes first, the simplicity, holding back. There is true maturity in that, and it’s not about our egos.
Taking that mantra, the aprons are for chefs, and we want chefs to feel stylish in the kitchen. As a chef, we want to work with the most fabulous ingredients. We want to source the right materials. All of the fabrics at AOS are from Turkey and Italy. I hand source them myself. The vintage line we’re launching this fall is the first time the fabrics are from the U.S., but all of the aprons are made in the U.S.
Your aprons are manufactured in San Diego?
Yes, everything is local, everything is hand-stitched here. The family (at Edith’s Sewing) is amazing. They’ve been in the business for more than 30 years. It’s about everyone involved in the process bringing their passion and love and stories to the product. That’s very important to me.
And you mentioned comfort and style.
One hundred percent. And functionality. All of the aprons have a light stain guard depending on the color. You can take water for ketchup, mustard — just take water and wipe it off. I wanted to think about the environment, too.
Our aprons are 6 to 7 ounces, a typical apron is 12 ounces. And what is so cool about these aprons is the stretch. They contour and work with and complement your body. We want people to feel empowered, to feel inspired to jump into the kitchen.
Your aprons are tied to philanthropy?
Oh my gosh, that is so important to me. This is first and foremost something I believe in and is at the core of who I am and what we are at AOS. We’re a company with a cause. We believe that as we grow, everything around us should grow, too.
We’re starting a campaign, “An Apron for a Cause.” We have a pink apron, Jacques PINK PINK, with proceeds going to the Editha House in Phoenix where they house cancer patients who can’t afford to stay in hospitals.
I have a special needs son, and I am so excited about partnering with a gentleman, a young man who is 18 years old and autistic and aspiring to become a chef. He is designing an apron for us. His name is Jeremiah Josey, and proceeds from his apron will benefit special needs children and Jeremiah’s career. I want to be the voice for the unspoken.
AOSbySosa Aprons run $88-$98 and can be purchased at aosbysosa.com.
Don Chareunsy is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas.