Nestled amongst Malibu's picturesque coastline, Malibu Farm is a beautiful cafe and restaurant serving up delicious, locally sourced food. We came upon Malibu Farm at the end of our travels in California, and wished we had known earlier! Everything about this place is spot on. From the location, to the ambiance and then let's not forget about the food (so fresh!), everything was pretty much perfect.
Owner Helene Henderson started Malibu Farm out of her home a few years ago by offering cooking classes and farm dinners right in her backyard. Her attention to organic and emphasis on only using real foods is part of what makes this place special. With each dish you can really taste the ingredients and can trust that what you're getting is fresh, and grown with purpose.
With warmer weather slowly settling in, we've been thinking of our time spent at the cafe, and wishing we were still there slowly sipping our coffees and taking in the ocean scenes. We can't wait to be back to spend more time getting to know Helene and this wonderful haven she has created. If we were locals, we know this would be our happy place.
Background and upbringing play such an important role in defining our careers. Would you please share some of your most significant memories?
I think when it comes to food memories especially, it is usually the simplest things that stand out the most. The best food memories bring you back to a time and place. In Sweden where I grew up, potatoes were a big deal. We eagerly awaited the first harvest every year, and those spring potatoes were always treated like treasures. They were simply served with just butter and salt but I can still close my eyes, and remember the taste of those potatoes. That memory brings me right back to that time when I am still a little girl, picking potatoes in a field with my grandmother. Which is probably one of the reasons I still obsess about farming, growing my own produce and harvesting.
Travel is something that we find imperative to quality of life, even if it’s right in our backyard. Is there anywhere that you’ve visited recently near or far that stands out?
I went to Iceland not long ago where we visited several farms and it was super interesting to see how they grow a lot of produce hydroponically in greenhouses there. I was also recently in Lanai, one of the islands in Hawaii and interestingly enough, Lanai is considering growing their produce hydroponically in greenhouses as well, not because of the weather, but because so much of the soil is polluted from the old pineapple plantations.
What kinds of food do you enjoy preparing when entertaining?
I like to select a menu that does not keep me cooking and cleaning throughout the night, so something simple with a lot of room temperature dishes, which allows me to interact with guests.
It’s obvious that freshness and quality of ingredients are something that are high on the list of priorities for you. Who are some local purveyors that you’re currently excited about?
When I first started I wanted to use only produce from my own backyard. As I have expanded and our volume has increased, my own yard obviously doesn't produce enough, and getting Malibu local produce is definitely getting harder to source because of the quantities we need. That said, I do always get super excited to receive produce from Larry Thorne, a Malibu farmer who grows on a larger scale locally. He drops whatever he is growing that is ripe and it's always exciting to receive his deliveries.
Where do you like to go for a moment of peace and tranquility?
I am from the north of Sweden, and grew up surrounded by the forest which is definitely my happy place of peace. There is not much forest in Malibu but I love big open spaces with no people where I can go for a run or a hike to clear my mind.
Can you share more on your path to opening Malibu Farm Pier Cafe/Malibu Farm Restaurant?
I had been in catering and private events for a long time. My Malibu Farm journey started out with cooking classes out of my home, to farm dinners in my backyard. Before I knew it I was basically running an underground restaurant out of my home. Eventually the city of Malibu started to crack down on my dinners and I was forced to look for alternate locations. We did a few dinners on other farms throughout Malibu, and then stumbled upon a short term pop up lease opportunity on the pier. When I first opened the cafe, it was just me, and a small four person staff. The cafe was only open for breakfast and lunch, and I still held a full time private chef job in Los Angeles. Against all odds it took off, the cafe went from pop up to a longer term lease, and after three years, we had an opportunity to expand on the pier to also include the Malibu Farm restaurant and bar. Many days I still look around in surprise that I actually operate two real restaurants.