“I love to go look at the food and make up the recipe," the actress and producer tells PEOPLE
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.
Food and family play big parts in El Sabor de la Navidad, the new Spanish-language movie (now streaming on ViX) Hayek Pinault produced.
The ensemble drama follows three intersecting stories: two best friends working as Santa Claus impersonators for the season; a demanding chef taking on a new assistant; and a transgender woman who is reuniting with her family for the holidays after a long time away.
For Hayek Pinault and José Tamez, 58, her producing partner of nearly 25 years, films like El Sabor represent their long “good fight” to tell modern, meaningful stories about the Latin community.
“Festivities based on family and tradition and childhood nostalgia, they’re universal,” says Hayek Pinault of the film. “But we took that and modernized it. That’s what sets it apart as a Christmas movie. It feels very ‘today.’ ”
The same could be said for Hayek Pinault’s own holiday celebrations, which have evolved since she wed French businessman François-Henri Pinault, 61, in 2009. Pinault is the chairman and CEO of the luxury-goods corporation Kering, the parent company to brands like Gucci and Balenciaga.
“I have some new traditions and some old ones because when you get married you have two families,” says Hayek, who was raised with her younger brother, furniture designer Sami, in Coatzacoalcos, Mexico, by parents Sami Hayek Dominguez, an oil company executive, and Jiménez Medina, an opera singer.
For more on Salma Hayek Pinault, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE.
Hayek Pinault shares 16-year-old daughter Valentina with Pinault and is also stepmother to his children François, 25, and Mathilde, 22 (with his ex-wife Dorothée Lepère), and Augustin, 17 (with model Linda Evangelista).
With her blended family and relatives all over the globe, the actress happily spreads out the holiday season into a multiday affair.
“Every year we do one Christmas with my Mexican family and one Christmas with my French family,” explains Hayek Pinault.
She jokes that one of them is “fake” because it’s not celebrated on Dec. 25. “But it feels very real to us,” she quickly adds. “It’s just on a different day.”
El Sabor de la Navidad is now streaming on ViX.
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