Salma Hayek: I don’t have any recipes, I look at the food and make up the recipe

Salma Hayek is currently starring in El Sabor de la Navidad, a Spanish-language movie she produced that’s streaming on ViX. It’s an ensemble drama that follows the three intersecting stories of two best friends working as Santa impersonators, a demanding chef taking on a new assistant, and a transgender woman reuniting with her family for the holidays. (Side note: Every time I hear about a movie with intersecting family storylines, I think about 1998’s Playing By Heart. Does anyone else remember that movie?) A big portion of El Sabor de la Navidad, which translates to ‘The Taste of Christmas,’ involves family and food, so during an interview with People, Salma shared her own kitchen techniques.

Salma Hayek Pinault feels just at home in the kitchen as she does in front of (or behind) the camera. When the holiday season rolls around, rest assured the Oscar-nominated actress and producer is simmering, sautéeing or stirring something on the stove right alongside her mom, Diana Jiménez Medina.

“My mother and I have never not cooked for Christmas,” the Mexico-born star, 57, tells PEOPLE. “Cooking is a way for families to come together.”

The menu, however, is never the same year to year.

“I don’t have any recipes,” she continues. “I love to go look at the food and make up the recipe as we go. That’s my special thing. I can improvise if we don’t have the right ingredients. When you have kids, you learn to do that.”

There’s just one problem with her tactics. With a few exceptions that she knows by heart, most dishes she makes are “a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she quips.

[From People]

Okay, that is hilarious. I would 100% eat a meal cooked by Salma Hayek. I’m sure everything she makes is flavorful and absolutely delicious. I wish I had more patience to cook, because I know being in the kitchen really is one of those things that families bond over. In my family, my youngest sister is the go-to for baking and my husband loves to cook when he has time to. I’m boring, but am really spectacular at timing chicken nuggets to air fry for just the right amount of time for my kids’ preferred golden brown color. I may have a tiny problem with following directions off of a recipe. I’ll either mess up the portions by eyeballing them (I mean, are you really supposed to just limit yourself to “one teaspoon” of garlic? Come on, now!) or find some other way to ruin it. I like crockpots, though. It’s hard to mess up crockpot meals. You just throw everything in there and forget about it for hours.

Photos credit: IMAGO/Barbara Hine / Avalon, ShotbyNYP / Backgrid, Xavier Collin / Image Press Agency / Avalon and via Instagram

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14 Responses to “Salma Hayek: I don’t have any recipes, I look at the food and make up the recipe”

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  1. Scorpio says:

    That’s so funny and I very much relate. The first few months I made something that my boyfriend still remembers years later. The problem is I have absolutely no idea how I did it and could never make it again much to my partners dismay.

    • coriolis says:

      Same! I look at the picture and the ingredients list and I’m like, “I have a basic understanding of what I need to do here” and then go at it with some improvisation. At the table, my spouse will be like, ‘I think this is the best thing you have made all year’ and I’m like, ‘I’m glad you enjoyed it, unfortunately we will never have it this way again ‘ so her “a once in a lifetime opportunity” made me laugh, I will have to start using that line.

  2. Normades says:

    I think you can learn a lot from really good cookbooks so I’m a firm believer in following the recipe to a T the first time and then allowing modifications the next time.
    While Salma is so rolling in the dough (pun intended) she probably has several chefs, I believe that her cooking would be tasty.

    • Dara says:

      I have an epic cookbook collection, yet rarely to never use them when actually cooking. I told a friend I read them like romance novels – after a few plot twists and some drama, everything turns out beautifully in the end. Knowing my skill (or lack thereof) in the kitchen, they quipped back that maybe it was more like science fiction – an experiment goes horribly wrong and it’s the end of the world as we know it. .

  3. When I first started cooking it was by the book. Then I decided I might like something else in or take something out and found that you could do that. I no longer buy spaghetti sauce I make my own and change it up all the time. You don’t know until you try.

  4. Jaded says:

    I love to cook and once I have a recipe under my belt I generally modify — add a bit of this or that — to make it my own. I make THE most amazing banana bread in the world if I do say so myself, that I made exactly as the recipe stated the first time but then started adding stuff and changing ingredients. I should patent it!

  5. Noo says:

    I kind of hate myself for posting this but I feel I’m at peak Salma with these disclosures, I sleep with an owl, the owl loves me. I never exercise, I just tense my muscles or something… I cook, I never need a recipe book… What is going to come up next? I’m tired already thinking of it. She sounds like a wonderful person and a great friend and she’s so incredibly gorgeous and talented, I want it to be all love for SH-P! IDK I wish I wasn’t writing this but this is my truth right now.

  6. Becks1 says:

    it’s a talent if she can do that – to be able to look at ingredients and just sort of figure out what is going to taste good together, whether you should saute or steam, whether you should make X sauce or Y sauce.

    I cannot do this. I love to cook and am the cook in our house (my husband tends to do breakfasts for the boys though), but I always always always follow a recipe. I mean some things I can make – like a basic meatball lol – but its also because I’ve been doing it for so many years that I don’t use the recipe anymore. I can make carbonara without looking at a recipe but that took YEARS. Oh and @SusanCollins comment reminded me – I can make various types of red sauces for pasta from scratch without recipes at this point. But that’s also what I make the most lol.

    People who can just taste something and then recreate it, or who just know what is going to go well together – its a definite talent.

  7. Olive says:

    My husband cooks like this. He just puts ingredients together and produces something quite tasty. If I’m around I’ll express serious doubts the whole time he is cooking, then sit down and inhale a plate of whatever he has whipped up. He laughs and asks me when (after 20 years) I’m going to stop doubting him. I’m a recipe follower with zero creativity so I just assume everyone needs to go by the book, when really they might be a Salma!

  8. JanetDR says:

    That’s how I cook most of the time. I see what’s in the fridge and decide if it’s going to be a soup, salad or casserole. I generally roast the veggies first.
    I do have recipes that I use, but I freestyle it more often than not.

  9. theotherviv says:

    I give Salma props for her never-ending quest to let us know she is naturally gifted at EVERYTHING including growing boobies, taming tigers, inventing food. Makes me chuckle.

    • Noo says:

      @theotherviv thank YOU you have hit on the energy. This is what I was posting about above in #5. You have helped me make sense of my feels and find a new way to more lightly engage with what will surely be more Nobel prize worthy disclosures from Salma when her next project comes around.

  10. lizbert says:

    Once I learned a few core ingredients and techniques I started doing this all the time – it’s way more fun, and most recipes are under-seasoned anyway. Baking intimidates the hell out of me though – that sh!t is SCIENCE. Good thing my husband is great at it because I am terrible 😀

  11. Quarto says:

    I’ve known people like this. Some of them are amazing cooks. More of them are absolutely awful but are absolutely convinced they are amazing:) But hey, more power to her, and maybe she’s one of the rare ones.