Malibu Farm, a restaurant perched at the end of Malibu Pier, has become one of L.A.’s best hangouts. Chef Helene Henderson hosts a new year’s day lunch with a menu of auspicious dishes.
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Malibu Farm, a restaurant perched at the end of Malibu Pier, has become one of L.A.’s best hangouts. Here, chef Helene Henderson hosts a new year’s day lunch with a menu of auspicious dishes.
When Helene Henderson’s husband suggested she move her acclaimed farm dinners to Malibu, California’s 780-foot-long pier, she said: “That’s stupid. They’re farm dinners.” She agreed to try them as a pop-up, though, and took over a vacant café at the tip of the pier. She ripped out the red vinyl booths, tossed the deep fryer and opened Malibu Farm. Today, the pop-up has turned permanent; she serves her California-farm-sourced version of beach food to surfers, celebrities and surfer-celebrities, like Laird Hamilton and his star-athlete wife, Gabrielle Reece.
Raised in a desolate town in northern Sweden, Henderson was lured to Los Angeles by a friend promising three things: a car, a job and a boyfriend (who turned out to be John Stockwell, the director of the surf film Blue Crush; he became her husband). Once in L.A., the onetime model was hired as a last-minute replacement chef for a dinner party. Her food was such a hit, she became a full-time caterer and hobbyist farmer.
“Your air-conditioning is gorgeous, Helene,” Hamilton jokes when the breeze kicks up on the restaurant’s rooftop deck during Henderson’s New Year’s Day lunch (watch him on YouTube “shooting the pier” last summer in hurricane-induced swells). Henderson is serving a hearty orecchiette with lucky-for-the-New Year black-eyed peas. She sources ingredients from her farm—she grows persimmons and pairs them with burrata for a creamy and crisp salad —and a chunk of her harvest ends up on Hamilton’s plate: “Cooks always love me because I eat so much,” he says.
For New Year’s Day, she also tops her meringue roulade with almonds, an ode to the traditional Swedish holiday belief that the nuts are lucky. She swears she made the dessert for Hollywood studio executive Ron Meyer before awards season one year—and it worked: His film Les Misérables ended up winning a handful of Golden Globes.