Helene Henderson is an African American, Swedish-born chef who was raised in Luleå, Sweden, where she learned how to cook. She published a cookbook, The Swedish Table, which contains more than 125 recipes of traditional dishes combined with her modern, healthy sensibility with beautiful color photography. Helene also published the delicious and gorgeous Malibu Farm Cookbook, which was released last fall and is absolutely worth owning.
As a restaurateur, Helene Henderson’s success started with passionate interest from anyone lucky enough to have eaten her food, to a pop-up to a permanent restaurant. Helene was organizing dinner parties to share the seasonal ingredients on her 2-acre farm in Malibu and quickly began to host pop-up meals at various Malibu locales. One temporary pop-up turned into the permanent (as permanent as a pier can be she points out - it’s not easy to run a restaurant on a moving, changing chunk of wood over water) Malibu Farm at the end of Malibu Pier.
Her passion for ingredients is clear in her recipes and menus. She uses her restaurant as a way to illustrate the importance of these ingredients to our health: whole wheat flours, whole grains, tons of veggies, fruits and no fake food. She raises free-range chickens who can produce 30 eggs of day (not enough to fulfill the 200+ needed for Malibu Farm), all of whom have names. “We still eat chicken, just really super small portions of it. We have a pig named Arnold too, who is super cute, super hungry, and super fat. We still eat pork, but shh, don't tell him.”
She doesn’t eat red meat, but she will serve grass-fed beef burgers or steaks to her guests. She also doesn’t use or eat low-fat or non-fat products since, as we’re all learning, nothing makes you fatter. “Eat Real or Don’t Eat It At All” is a mantra worth living.
Helene is a fan of farmers and supports and promotes the purveyors who deliver the delicious ingredients to her restaurant: Larry Thorne, Mike Zacha, Weiser Farms, Tutti Frutti Farms, Maggie’s Farm. She shops every week at the Santa Monica farmers market and buys produce from World Wide and Nature's Produce when she cannot source locally. Ordering and buying purely organic is not as easy as one would think - the small farmers aren’t certified and the big producers do not always deliver on 100% organic; “It is a daily and challenging struggle.”
From her own 2-acre farm, she has eggs, persimmons, figs, lemons, pomegranates, apricots, asian pears, carrots, beets, asparagus, and fresh herbs. Some of her purveyors include:
Less than two years after opening the farm-to-table Malibu Farm at the end of the pier, she expanded by buying up Malibu Pier Restaurant at the other end of the pier in May. Malibu Farm Pier Cafe, with its chic dining room, is a perfect fit for Henderson’s super cool design sense. While Malibu Farm was the must breakfast and lunch spot, with the Malibu Pier under her command, she has the opportunity to serve all day with two of the most beautiful spots in Southern California.