The Heart of the Home with Bridget Henry
The light that streams from the deep bay windows into Bridget Henry’s kitchen is the kind stylist’s dream about. It spills over the marble countertops, the stacks of carefully chosen dishes, the cascade of small, white orchids at the center of the island. It pours in from the adjacent sliding glass door, which makes a towering fiddle leaf fig tree very happy, branches extending nearly to the ceiling.
It’s no surprise that Bridget, a makeup artist-turned-food-and-prop stylist, is most enamored by her kitchen.
“Once I saw it,” she says, “I knew I was sold.”
Prior to her current adventure with her family, husband, Helder, and young daughter, Bianca, Bridget spent most of her career as a makeup artist.
“That was my thing,” she says, “for 21 years.”
From editorial shoots to runway, celebrities and advertising campaigns, Bridget immersed herself in the world of makeup. Bridget’s work has appeared in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Allure and Billboard magazines, among others. She has worked for designers Tom Ford, Donna Karen, Zach Posen and Rachel Zoe in New York’s Fashion Week, and made-up a long list of celebrities, including Kristen Stewart, Taylor Swift and Ben Stiller.
“I’ve been blessed and had great opportunities of traveling all over the world, doing Paris and Milan fashion weeks and QVC in London,” says Bridget. “I think having my fashion background also helped me, opened some doors with my food and prop styling.”
Bridget’s style is “modern and fresh with a precision for detail.” She highlights natural beauty and amplifies essential flavors. In makeup, Bridget aims to create radiant skin. When it comes to food, she showcases freshness, color and simplicity. For her own meals Bridget cares deeply about sourcing and eating locally.
It was when living New York City that Bridget’s passion for food began to transform into a more tangible reality.
“I love everything about food,” says Bridget. “I like getting together with people and eating. I love to eat out and cook at home,” she says. “When I was in New York I just started seeing all the beauty in a plate of food. Looking at food and going to restaurants, how they would plate things, was really intriguing to me.”
Bridget shopped for and styled food that she loved, and that she ate, and eventually it paid off.
“I would go to the Union Square Farmers Market and I would start taking pictures with my phone and posting them on Instagram. Then I would go home and make meals and I would find myself making a beautiful shot and taking it with my phone,” says Bridget. “So it kind of evolved really naturally.”
The dishes she crafted and shot at home were true to the source of the ingredients and season, whether it was sugar-dusted French toast with summer berries, or roasted fall veggies. Apple pie, Bridget says, is an all-time favorite dish to prepare.
The photos, shot in natural light in Bridget’s kitchen, caught the eye of an existing client, who gave the Bridget the chance to style the set instead of do makeup.
“That was the jumping-off point for me,” she says.
Bridget returned to her home state of Ohio after five years in New York City, a transition towards more stable surroundings, and closer to family.
Helder moved to the United States in 1989 with father, Oscar, who led his family out of a politically unstable Peru by taking a research position at The Ohio State University’s microbiology department.
Two years later, Helder’s brother and mother, Edga, followed suit. The transition was a smooth one. “I found Columbus to be very welcoming,” says Helder. He would go on to study Environmental Science at OSU and meet Bridget on a hot summer night through a mutual friend. In time, and as they got to know each other, Peruvian flavors would resurface in their shared home.
“We’re just enjoying life a little bit more,” she says. “Settling back down to our roots and starting the next chapter as parents.”
Bridget’s kitchen, bright and beckoning, is central. And no wonder. Her enthusiasm for her job is inseparable from her love of food and for family. “I love to cook,” says Bridget. “When I was pregnant my husband started dabbling in cooking, and he loves to cook now.” 8-month-old Bianca will help someday soon. For now, she soaks up the smells and sounds of her parents as they chop and sauté.
“We always go to the markets,” says Bridget. “We love getting local ingredients, going with what looks good and fresh and incorporating it, winging it and making up our own recipes.”
Helder’s Peruvian heritage added another layer of flavor to their culinary repertoire.
“Meeting Helder has opened me up to new ingredients that, being in America and in Ohio, I would have never met,” says Bridget. Like rocoto, a South American pepper prevalent in Peruvian cooking. Or empanadas. “I just really fell in love with their food,” she says.
The empanada, especially, came to be a family staple.
In a recipe passed down from Helder’s mother, the palm-sized, golden empanadas are filled with a sweet and savory mixture of hard boiled egg, raisins, green olives, ground beef, veggies and spices. They are baked and served with fresh lime wedges.
“They’re recipes Helder grew up with that have been passed down,” says Bridget. “They’ve been in his family forever, but I think with his family being here, it’s allowed me to explore the different flavors and aromas and ingredients.”
Lots of family time is spent preparing and sharing meals. “Every Sunday,” Helder says, “it’s a tradition to see mom and eat Peruvian food.”
“We do the traditional empanada recipe, which is his mother’s recipe, which was her mom’s mother’s recipe,” says Bridget. “With Edga, everything is in her head. The way she cooks is completely different than from how I would approach it. Because its all in her memory and its all in her taste. So I’ve kind of learned from her to add a little bit of this and that.”
In their home, like in so many others, cooking time is inevitably, intrinsically, family time.
“We love making empanadas because it takes a long time,” says Bridget. “It’s very easy but it’s very time-consuming. So we have a little assembly line and my husband and I always cook them together. That’s also one of the reasons it’s a favorite, you know—we do it together, put on some salsa music and have some wine,” says Bridget.
Bridget has found peace and new beginnings in her work. She’s found joy in her family. And in her kitchen, she’s found harmony. “I love how the kitchen is always the heart of our home,” says Bridget.
Learn more about Bridget Henry and her work, or find her on Instagram @bridget_henry.