From Backyard Dinner Parties to Malibu Farm

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If you haven’t yet been to Malibu Farm’s new location in Newport’s Lido Marina Village, then grab your friends, ditch your normal lunch spot, and head over immediately. Even if you’ve never tried their menu, chances are you’ve heard of the farm-to-table restaurant that has been popular since they opened their first location in their namesake city of Malibu. Here, founder and chef Helene Henderson whips up brunch, dinner, and even organic sodas and smoothies for thirsty beachgoers. 

For a much-loved restaurant, the whole idea was born out of friendly dinners and a little run in with the law. “I come from a catering and private chef background and started teaching cooking classes for fun out of my home. I started a blog to post the cooking class recipes and named it Malibu Farm,” Henderson remembers. “The cooking classes led to dinners in my backyard. I started selling tickets to the dinners online, inviting strangers from near and far to join at my table. Eventually, my dinners got shut down by the city of Malibu as I was, in fact, running a non-permitted restaurant out of my residential home... which isn't allowed.”

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Of course, that couldn’t stop Henderson, whose passion for good food and good friends led her to open her own restaurant soon after.

“I had a product to sell, but nowhere to hold the dinners,” she explains. “I never set out to open any restaurants, it just sort of happened.” 

At Malibu Farm, patrons can expect organic, locally-sourced foods that include vegan coconut curry, herb-marinated steak, organic rose lemonade soda, and fresh-squeezed kale apple juice. “I’ve always loved lots of greens and vegetables simply prepared with lemon, olive oil, and salt,” shares the chef. “I grew up in Sweden and our food was always very simply prepared. I also come from a family history of cancer and, generally speaking, living and eating as healthy as possible was always important to me for my personal health.”

And it seems her guests think the same way when it comes to healthy, delicious food. Henderson suggests a few favorites for first-time eaters. “Breakfast is always very big for us: fried egg sandwiches, Swedish pancakes, and oatmeal, and for lunch, cauliflower crust pizzas and nachos reign supreme along with fish tacos, chop salad, and spaghetti squash lasagna,” she notes.

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All of their ingredients come from local farms, small businesses, and sometimes even Henderson’s own backyard. It’s important to her to not only improve the quality of food for her guests, but to help the local farmers that provide these health-focused ingredients. “Hopefully our support for local farmers like Larry Thorne, Malibu Organic Lemons, and Kerry Clasby has allowed their business to grow along with ours. We are super lucky to have such an abundant supply of locally grown produce,” says Henderson, who shares that getting daily organic food can be a struggle… but one that’s essential (whether it’s for a backyard dinner party or the hippest new Farm in Newport). 

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Marissa Stempien is a freelance editor and writer who can never get enough organic, fresh-squeezed agave lemonade. With a degree in English Literature and a minor in Asian Studies, she has written on travel, fashion, beauty, technology, culture and food, and enjoys writing short stories in her spare time. Find Marissa on social media at @paperandlights.