The name super potato may seem a bit perplexing at first. Made even more confusing that a super potato is not, in fact, loaded with toppings or full of extra vitamins and minerals. It is actually the name of a new line of aprons launched by Michelin-starred chef Chef Jean-Paul Lourdes.
Developed to fill a void in the market for chef aprons that are both utilitarian and stylish, super potato is inspired by the most basic of all ingredients — the humble potato — which aspires to be nothing more than it is, and yet can be made into something exceptionally savory, rich and wonderful.
The Gourmet Insider caught up with Chef Lourdes about this new line, his inspiration and how the apron gives back to the environment.
TGI: What inspired you to develop super potato?
Jean-Paul Lourdes: I noticed a gap in the market for aprons that were made of very high-quality materials, but at the same time, stripped down of clutter. Heavy straps and hardware can be a distraction that get in a chef’s way in a busy kitchen. As a chef’s uniform, an apron needs to be, first and foremost, comfortable and functional; but as a garment worn every day, it’s also nice to have a piece that looks really sleek and aesthetically pleasing. My goal was to create an apron that achieves comfort and functionality, but with an elevated, minimalistic style element that makes you feel really confident wearing it.
TGI: We need to talk about this name! Where did it come from and why do you feel like it fits the mission?
JPL: I think a potato is such a humble ingredient. For some, it can even be perceived as bland. With the right vision and technique though, the potato can be transformed into something very special, if not super. Very similarly, to most people, an apron is simply just an apron. It’s not viewed under the lens of style or fashion. Although, when you add really high-quality materials, like 100% Japanese cotton handwoven on vintage looms and simple, luxury elements (a sleek riri zipper and a designer-crafted metal buckle), it becomes something else entirely. In a sense, you’re wearing a piece of art.
TGI: Some of these apron features are pretty awesome — why were they important to you to have?
JPL: Details have always been very important to me. Growing up, my father was an architect, and from a young age, I have been completely awestruck by design and craftsmanship, and heavily inspired by fashion. I appreciate the thought process and the hours it takes to create something that’s functional, yet also refined.
TGI: What should chefs know about these aprons? And what should home chefs know about these aprons?
JPL: This apron is not just for professional chefs. An apron, at the end of the day, is a garment that serves a simple purpose: to protect your clothing while you cook. Beyond its functionality, the apron by super potato looks as good on the body as it feels. For any chef or food connoisseur who spends a lot of time in the kitchen, you deserve to look and feel great doing what you love.
TGI: I love the burlap and seed idea. What inspired you to give back to the Earth this way and why this method?
JPL: I wanted to find a subtle and fun way to encourage people to plant a seed with every apron purchased. I saw the burlap sack as a whimsical approach to packaging that was both impactful and thought-provoking, paying homage to the inspiration: The potato.
TGI: What is your favorite feature of the apron and why?
JPL: My favorite feature is the silhouette. While the apron is double-sided to provide durability at the garment’s straps and tension points, the inner layer itself is cut away around the body for a cooling effect. This feature also ensures that no bulk is added to the physique of the garment.
This is something a lot of high-end aprons are missing, and it can really add a heaviness to the garment that can be overwhelming and disrupt a chef’s mobility in the kitchen.
TGI: What is your favorite meal to cook at home and why?
JPL: I really enjoy cooking a lot of vegetables, and meals that center around seasonal produce. I have a Japanese grill at home that I love using with binchotan charcoal. I’m really inspired by Japanese cooking and culture and I incorporate it into my work and the meals I make at home whenever I can.