Salma Hayek Pinault on Her Christmas Movie and Cooking for Linda Evangelista: 'She's Family' (Exclusive)

The producer, who debuted her new holiday film at the Toronto Film Festival, tells PEOPLE about her annual Christmas celebrations

<p> David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty</p> Salma Hayek Pinault at the 2023 BRIT Awards

David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty

Salma Hayek Pinault at the 2023 BRIT Awards

Salma Hayek Pinault is getting into the Christmas spirit a few months early.

The Magic Mike's Last Dance actress, 57, and her longtime business partner Jose Tamez premiered the upcoming Spanish language holiday film they produced, El Sabor de la Navidad, at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 13.

Hayek Pinault tells PEOPLE the heartwarming movie highlights traditional elements of Mexican culture while still feeling modern and “very today.”

Adds Tamez, “I wanted to make a Christmas movie that felt like a feel-good movie, but at the same time, I didn't want to do the same stories that we have seen so many times.”

<p>Courtesy of ViX</p> Mariana Treviño in El Sabor de la Navidad

Courtesy of ViX

Mariana Treviño in El Sabor de la Navidad

The ensemble dramedy features a trio of 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.

The latter story is one Hayek Pinault feels is universal, in that the season “is a good time to try to come back together,” she says. “This can apply to everyone.”

Producing a film set during the holidays was the perfect project for Hayek Pinault. “We love Christmas in my family,” she says. “We love going to buy the decorations and the little treats and we make it original and special.”

For Hayek Pinault, the holiday each year is a multi-day affair. “I have some new traditions and some old ones because when you get married you have two families,” says the Mexico-born actress who has been wed to French businessman François-Henri Pinault, 61, since 2009.

The pair share 16-year-old daughter Valentina, and Pinault has three other children, François, Mathilde and Augustin, from previous relationships.

“We do one Christmas with my Mexican family, and one Christmas with my French family,” explains Hayek Pinault. “And my mother-in-law is the most splendid person when it comes to good taste and organizing dinners and making them cute.”

For the Mexican celebration, Hayek and her mother, Diana Jiménez Medina, often cook — even on the rare occasions when they hire someone to do the work for them.

“Even though I have the possibility maybe not to cook, we say, ‘Oh no, we're so tired. Yes, let someone else cook it.’ And we can't help ourselves. We're in that kitchen three days before," says Hayek Pinault.

She will even take a flight to prepare a meal for loved ones. In August, Linda Evangelista — whose son Augustin is Hayek Pinault’s stepchild — revealed the Frida Oscar nominee went above and beyond to make sure she had a festive holiday one year.

<p>Getty Images</p> Linda Evangelista is 'family' to Salma Hayek

Getty Images

Linda Evangelista is 'family' to Salma Hayek

“I was sick at Thanksgiving,” the supermodel told Vogue. “And Salma got on the plane with her daughter, came here, and made Thanksgiving dinner.”

Reminded of that story, Hayek Pinault tells PEOPLE, “It was a pleasure cooking for Linda. She’s family too.”

Evangelista told the magazine she requested Hayek Pinault's Mexican chicken and truffled potatoes, which the House of Gucci star likely had to make from memory.

“I don't have any recipes,” she says. “I love to go look at the food and make up the recipe as we go. That's my special thing.”

El Sabor de la Navidad debuts on the streaming service ViX this November.

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