Architect Ana Henton is founder of MASS Architecture Design Build and has designed award-winning restaurants, cafes and shops such as Lukshon in Culver City, Intelligentsia Venice, C + M at LACMA, Breadbar in Century City and Silverlake Wine.
One of her next projects is the revival of the Helms Bakery by Sherry Yard and Sang Yoon in a 10,000-square-foot space in the Helms complex in Culver City.
We caught up with Henton about ice skating in L.A., her Hungarian chestnut dessert and the year her grandmother saved Christmas....
What do you love about the winter holidays in L.A.?
Ice skating! Even though I grew up in Michigan, I have spent more time ice skating in Los Angeles. It’s hard not to when there is an ice skating rink in front of my building in downtown L.A. -- I can literally skate in my front yard.
What’s your favorite holiday dish?
Since moving to L.A., I have been lucky enough to spend holidays with friends, among them Kevin and Anna Lisa Rivera, who would always provide amazing Christmas tamales, which quickly became my new favorite holiday dish. Now I can’t imagine Christmas without tamales.
How do you make a table festive?
On a regular basis, I tend to go overboard with flower arrangements, especially since I have a small pottery collection and one of my favorite activities is going to the downtown flower market on Saturday mornings. During the holidays, I like to fill large vases with branches from pine trees as well as canella berry branches. I pair these with bauble-filled bowls.
What are you planning for your next holiday meal?
This year, I will be providing one of the desserts, and my mother recently reminded me of how we would always make gesztenye, a Hungarian chestnut purée for Christmas -- puréed chestnuts with a little bit of rum and sugar along with fresh whipped cream, I can’t wait....
Name three things on your holiday gift wish list.
During the holidays is when I like to start planning summer vacation, so my wish list consists of travel arrangements, tickets, accommodations, etc. This year, I am thinking of going to Turkey and getting another rug. We’ll see.
Name three gift-giving ideas.
I love giving ceramics as gifts, and some of my favorite pottery is by Adam Silverman, who is also the studio director at Heath Ceramics, which makes everything there a good choice. I also plan on picking up a few of Kelly Lamb’s pieces as well as something from Josh Herman of San Diego.
What’s your favorite holiday memory?
One winter, my parents thought it would be a great idea to send me to ski school, where I was to spend Christmas. As I was the youngest and least talented person, I was miserable the whole time. My grandmother, who heard that I was unhappy, braved a horrible snowstorm, showed up at the school, fought with the administrators and managed to pull me out on Christmas Eve
so that I could spend it with her and my grandfather. She was fearless and that turned out to be one of my favorite Christmases.