The Fridge Faery

She sweeps into the room carrying a teapot, cups and a plate of luscious scones on a tray. She places the tray on the table beside a vase bursting with blood orange tulips. Amanda Henry was born in London in the 1950’s; she has style and a disarming sense of humor. “I guess you could say I was a child of privilege,” her mouth crinkles up, her voice holding a combination of pride and apology.

Her grandfather was a movie mogul who ran Associated British Talking Pictures, was awarded the OBE, Order of British Empire, managed George Formby, the British music hall performer and had a great sense of humor. But it was her grandmother who held the greatest influence over her life.

“My grandmother gave me my love of food,” she beams. “She was a great cook.” Her grandmother taught her the art of fine needlework, the proper handling of silverware, serving and the running of a house. “You never know when the Queen might drop by for dinner,” she’d often say.

Her grandmother had a running battle with their cook. The cook would be working in the kitchen and her grandmother would point to a pot. “What’s in it?” she’d demand. Unruffled, the cook would reply, “I don’t know, Madam. I put good things in it and I believe good things will come out of it!” At ten, Amanda was cooking roast beef dinners for the family.
People often referred to Amanda’s sister as “the pretty one.” One day her grandmother sat Amanda down and said, “Beautiful people will get ugly. You will always be intelligent. Intelligent people can always make a living.”

Amanda went off to Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Institute in Paris. At nineteen her father pulled the financial plug. What to do? “I knew I could sell,” she shrugs, “so took a job at Marks & Spencer.” Soon the lure of America beckoned, “America is more open, a lot more like me, I thought. Americans say what they think.” In 1978 Amanda moved to Boston working for Jordan Marsh, then to Seattle for Jaeger, eventually Neiman Marcus in White Plains, honing her business skills.

“One day God was smiling on me,” she grins at life’s synchronicity. An Englishman, the CEO of Asprey, London’s fine jewelers, came into the store. He hired her away, neither aware at the time they were cousins. Before long Amanda was off to open an Asprey branch in Beverly Hills, but L. A. wasn’t her cup of tea, “I knew it wasn’t real.”

“Five years ago God smiled on me again.” She’d gotten a dog. Standing on line in Starbucks a voice behind her said, “That little dog outside adores you.” She turned around and was smitten. “May I walk with you?” he asked.

“Yes, you may,” she said, surprised that he’d said, “May I.” He said his name was Herb and explained he was moving back to New York in a week.

“Man plans, God laughs,” Amanda chuckles. Herb called asking to take her to dinner. She scoured her schedule; no free evenings for more than a week. Making every excuse, she said it was impossible; then the doorbell rang. At the front door was a boy from her church. The next evening’s event was cancelled.

“Herbie showed up in a beautiful suit with an armful of long stemmed roses. I told him he had a good eye for color.”

“Yes,” he replied. “My mother taught me.”

“I loved the fact he credited his mother.” She flashes her irresistible grin, “We were madly in love by the end of the evening.”

Herb moved back to Hudson. Their relationship remained long distance. He flew back once when Prince Phillip came to dinner at Amanda’s, and yes, she cooked. “He ate three helpings of my bread pudding,” she confides.

Finally fed up with Los Angeles and desirous of something happy, fulfilling and real, Amanda married Herb and moved to Hudson. “People are warm here, more interesting people here than I’ve met anywhere in the world, bright, concerned people. This is the place I wanted to put down roots, a place to live.” Her eyes become determined, “And I’ll fight to my last breath to prevent a cement plant from destroying this beautiful place.”

With exceptional cooking skills and festive imagination, Amanda began a business, “The Fridge Faery.” She caters dinners, parties and makes and sells fresh chutneys, pickles and jams. She markets locally produced meats and eggs for clients and soon may expand to a small retail outlet. “I believe it is very important to support the farming community.”

She’s involved organizing a Memorial Day Weekend Yard Sale at TSL, including a plant swap, garden and home center and Bengali food. Using her extensive business skills, Amanda consults retail businesses and restaurants interested in improving their products and service. She’s considering television and radio, a cooking show perhaps or teaching. Speaking of “The Fridge Faery” and the future she says, “It’s, magic. God will smile on me. I have an expectation of success.” Her voice softens, “My life is blessed. I put good things into it and good things will come out.”

We’ll talk next time From The Road.

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