The Pantry is a unique business with a people-centered approach. Located in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, this “community kitchen” is a collective of 10 chefs brought together by owner and founder, Chef Brandi Henderson.
The Pantry offers cooking classes focusing on traditional food crafts and techniques, five-course family-style dinners, kids’ culinary camps, food swaps, cookbook club potlucks, and more. As Brandi puts it, “Basically anything we can think of to get our neighbors around the table, breaking bread and building community.” This mirrors Solid Ground’s tagline, “Building community to end poverty,” showing the deep alignment with The Pantry’s goals and Solid Ground’s values.
Having an impact in her community has always been central to Brandi and her dreams for The Pantry. She says “How can you get people to connect with food? There’s a constant searching: What are we doing, who are we helping?” So directly after the 2016 presidential election, they realized they needed to do something more. The Pantry began to host benefit dinners for nonprofit organizations – starting with a refugee assistance program, and branching out to food justice and social services organizations.
“… for anyone out there who feels alone, scared, threatened, or intimidated because of your race, religion, sexuality: please know that you have a place at our table.” ~Brandi Henderson, Chef & Founder, The Pantry
A former architect, Brandi deeply values space making and community building. She sees lack of affordable housing and livability as major issues impacting Seattle. So when she heard about the 2017 police shooting of Solid Ground Sand Point Housing resident Charleena Lyles, she and her team wanted to do something to support the community in healing. They hosted a series of three dinners raising $4,000 for Solid Ground, and since then, began making monthly donations to the agency.
Brandi’s team of chefs are more than just talented at what they do: They share in common a connection to social justice – people who are asking the important questions about food. “It is our intention that The Pantry be more than a place where ‘fancy’ people get together and make fancy food,” she says. “We try to be thoughtful and intentional, and hire people who are also intentional.”
Brandi’s “Building Community” blog post, published a few weeks after the 2016 election, paints a clear picture of the role she and The Pantry strive to play in our community:
Brandi sums it up when she says, “We want Seattle to be a livable place for a wide variety of people. What we do in the end is pretty simple: Just get people to hang out with each other. It’s all about connection with community.” Many, many thanks to The Pantry – for all you do for our community and Solid Ground. We hope this is just the beginning of building community together.