London-born photographer Nigel Barker’s early career as a model whisked him to spots like Milan and Paris, but for the past 15 years, the former America’s Next Top Model judge has called the West Village, where he lives with his wife Cristen, son Jack, 7, and daughter Jasmine, 4, home. “People think New York is this big city where no one knows each other, but when you live in the Village, it’s the opposite,” he says.
“I know the butcher, the baker and all the local coffee shops. It makes New York a very manageable place to live with kids.” Barker found himself working very close to home on his most recent project, The Face, a new supermodel competition reality series on Oxygen (the show premieres on Tuesday, February 12 at 9pm). “We shot the whole thing in Brooklyn, so you have the New York City vista in the background,” he says. Jack and Jasmine even got to spend a day on set, where they raided their dad’s closet, tried on his clothes and took turns sitting in the director’s chair. “They got to boss him around a little bit, too. It was kind of fun,” Cristen says.
“Molly’s Cupcakes (288 Bleecker St between Carmine St and Sixth Ave; 212-414-2253, mollyscupcakes.com) is on our way home from school—we’re there a lot. The kids’ friends gather at the shop and the waitress even knows Jasmine by name. Plus, the cupcakes are so unusual—they’re like ice cream flavors. They have chocolate-chip cookie dough and lemon meringue cupcakes.”
“We love wandering around the art galleries in Chelsea, but Jack especially enjoys going to the museums in the city. His favorite is the National Museum of the American Indian. He likes to look at all of the Native American artifacts, especially the room that’s decorated with teepees and headdresses.”
“We’ve been coming to Dublin 6 (575 Hudson St between Bank and 11th Sts; 646-638-2900, dublin6nyc.com), a local Irish pub, for the past 15 years. It’s a great family joint. Kids can eat pizza and burgers while parents enjoy a pint of beer. Jasmine and Jack especially like the fish and chips, which are followed by complimentary ice cream. It’s also opposite Bleecker Playground, which is convenient.”
“Jack goes to the skateboard camp at BB Social Club (bbsocialclub.com). They take the kids to various skateboard parks around the city. Jack's been everywhere from Hoboken to Queens and Brooklyn. We were recently driving through the Bronx and Jack was like ‘Oh, I’ve been here.’”
“Jasmine is really into ballet and princesses—she goes to the Joffrey Ballet School for dance class.”
“Cowgirl Café is a very family-friendly neighborhood place for brunch. They give the kids little toys to play with, and they all know us there.”