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 attended a magnet arts high school with a focus on visual arts, and studied architecture at the California College of Arts and Crafts. She worked as an architect for eight years before returning to school to study baking and pastry. She apprenticed at Tartine Bakery before moving to Seattle 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 and charcuterie 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 creative spirit grown from her visual arts education; the problem-solving and aesthetic rigor developed in architecture; an adherence to the seasonal rhythms, 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.