In the aftermath of the devastating wildfires that swept through Maui in August 2023, thousands of residents continue to lack the resources that are necessary to heal and rebuild. In an effort to provide monetary support, as well as express our solidarity, Chef Works is proud to announce our special edition Maui Apron, made in collaboration with Chef Lee Anne Wong and Noho Home.
Shop the apron, and support the Maui community with your purchase. Every penny of the apron’s profits will go towards Maui’s ongoing recovery efforts via the Hawaii Restaurant Association and Kokua Restaurant & Hospitality Fund for Maui.
Chef Lee Anne Wong has lived in Hawaii since 2013 and is Executive Chef of Event Operations and Continuing Ed at the French Culinary Institute. She’s also the owner of Koko Head Cafe. As a chef and business owner living on Maui, Chef Lee Anne continues to bear witness to the challenges faced by the Maui community, especially within the hospitality sector.
As she shared with us, the Maui wildfires were just one in a series of circumstances to hit the community. The COVID-19 pandemic, the housing crisis, the barriers to receiving small business grants and aid — these are just a few of the difficulties only compounded by the Maui wildfires. “Anybody who’s living here and working in Maui, it is going to be a long struggle,” she shared.
However, there is hope. “The Maui community, and especially the chef community, is so incredible and selfless. We deeply appreciate how our brothers and sisters across the country and around the world rallied together to send us supplies and everything we needed in those immediate weeks after the fire… and I think that Chef Works is a great representation of our culinary community.”
Chef Lee Anne continued, “What we’re doing is creating relationships, creating that invisible bond between somebody who buys this apron and supports Maui and the people who are going to benefit from this apron. You create this invisible thread and that’s really beautiful.”
The apron features a one-of-a-kind design, a compilation of 13 patterns curated with intention by Jalene Kanani Bell, President and Creative Director of Noho Home. Jalene describes the design as a “silent prayer for the regrowth of vegetation, the health of the oceans, and healing of the community… all of the sentiments I wanted to imbue into the apron.”
As an Oahu native, Jalene started her design career when she could not find designs that authentically spoke to her island. In 2018, she founded Noho Home as a way of bringing that Hawaiian aesthetic to the general public. She also created her own manufacturing micro-factory, giving her the ability to produce in small batches and on-demand. In fact, it was Noho Home’s factory that helped to bring the vision for this apron to life in so little time.
Jalene shared a snippet of each pattern’s significance as well. In our kāpili pattern, the visual representation of pewa symbolizes the art of joining wood — a powerful metaphor for coming together and healing, where two become one. Another significant pattern, ‘eke, resembles a breadbasket, embodying the act of holding and belonging. This pattern reflects the aspiration to replenish resources, revive wealth (waiwai), and restore abundance to our community. The inclusion of the limu pattern is a nod to the generative health of the nearshore ocean, emphasizing the urgency to heal from disturbances and toxic runoff caused by the wildfires. Additionally, ‘āhinahina, indigenous to Maui, not only fosters a connection to the island but also signifies the restoration of vegetation, flora, and fauna in the Mauka lands.
When asked of her greatest hope for this apron, Jalene told us, “That people who have been connected to or touched by Maui, those people, the aloha spirit, they have been fed by that in some point of their life, that they will now take this moment and opportunity to give back.”
We’re so excited to share our special edition Maui Apron, now available in three different colorways, with the hope that it will offer inspiration and tangible support for the people of Maui