Brandi Henderson grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, a place whose best culinary years were long in the past. She was raised on packaged foods and American cheese, and developed a fascination with the disappearing Southern food crafts and with the poor eating habits of her generation.
She studied architecture at the California College of Arts and Crafts, and worked as an architect for eight years before returning to school to study baking and pastry. She apprenticed at Tartine Bakery and worked under pastry chef Rachel Leising at the Moss Room and the Academy of Sciences café in San Francisco before moving to Seattle to take on the position of executive pastry chef at Delancey.
When the space behind Delancey became available, she didn’t hesitate — the Pantry was Brandi’s opportunity to create a true community kitchen: a place for cooking classes, food swaps, family dinners, and any event that brings neighbors together around the table. From humble beginnings and a handful of classes it’s quickly grown, adding a second kitchen and a full staff of instructors and chefs, teaching everything from baking classes to butchery workshops and week-long culinary kids’ camps. At the Pantry she draws on her pastry education as well as a number of earlier influences: the precision and aesthetic sense developed in architecture; a rigorous adherence to the seasonal rhythms of local produce, learned through years spent in the San Francisco Bay Area culinary world; and a devotion to the crafts and methods of pre-industrial Southern cooking, based on nostalgia for the days before microwaves and margarine.