I’m going to admit it — I had no idea who Tiffani Thiessen was before I moved to the US. But spending many a Sunday morning watching re-runs of Saved by the Bell, I certainly knew who Kelly Kapowski was.
It was only after watching the show White Collar that I became a big fan of Tiffani’s. So you can imagine my delight when I found out that she was a Sweet Paul Magazine fan! We emailed back and forth a little and she invited me to meet her and her family in NYC.
I’m always a bit nervous about meeting new people—throw a celebrity into the mix and I’m kind of a wreck—but Tiffani made me feel like I had known her for years. She was very sweet, genuine, and she calls everyone darling—which Ilove!
Just as she was well-known as Kelly, Tiffani has found the limelight again in her awesome Cooking Channel show called Dinner at Tiffani’s. I love how casual the show is—it’s a mix between a cooking show and a talk show, where she cooks surrounded by friends.
I was lucky enough to hang out with her at this year’s Sweet Paul Makerie and asked her some questions about cooking and life.
Why is food important to you?
Food is important to me because it allows people to connect. Besides needing food to nourish my body, it nourishes my mind as well. Sitting down over a great meal is truly one of my most favorite things to do. I love how it brings people together. I love how food can change the way you’re feeling by the first bite. Food feeds my soul… literally.
It also allows me to be creative in a different way; I am a creative person by nature and if I am not getting my creative juices flowing as an actress you will find me in the kitchen getting creative with food.
I grew up with a grandmother who was a great cook. Who inspired you to start cooking?
I was raised by a long line of women who cook: my grandmother, my mother, and my aunt. I was always next to them in the kitchen learning everything I could. I have vivid memories of being on my tippy toes watching these three women together in a kitchen whipping up magic. To me they were like artists—mixing things together in bowls like a painter mixes colors on a palette… and in the end the finished piece is a beautiful dish or work of art.
When I was around nine my mom was working the evening shift and I was the only girl left at home. So being that my dad didn’t cook, I was placed as head chef, fixing my dad and brothers dinner every night. It was my first real lesson in cooking for others.
I love how your daughter calls making pizza “decorating” pizza. Has having kids changed your cooking?
Completely. And every year it seems to change more. I have a daughter who has finally become my little side-kick in the kitchen and loves to cook along side of me. As well, I have a baby boy who I call my gourmet baby. He eats anything and loves it. He has a big appetite and a love of food… and I am not talking baby food. Once that kid got a taste of real food, he never went back. I can’t tell you how much it puts a smile on my face to see my son loving all different types of food.
What do you always keep in your pantry?
Infused oils and an array of different types of pasta. Dark chocolate, dried fruit, and nuts of all sorts. Nut butters because I may have a problem with them. Ha! Oatmeal, quinoa, and farro. Ketchup and hot sauce (because I’m married to a Texan). Spices galore, different varieties of citrus from my citrus trees, fresh herbs from my garden. Cacao of every type. And then being that I have two kids… I have seaweed snacks, freeze-dried fruit, applesauce pouches, granola bars, graham crackers, and quick mac n’ cheese… for those nights. You know what nights I mean.
Favorite all-time dish?
I can never say no to a good grilled cheese with caramelized onions and homemade roasted tomato soup. Of course it has to be accompanied with a big glass of wine. And then there’s nothing wrong with ending a great meal with something sweet like my chocolate espresso brownies.
We all have our dirty food secrets (mine is Taco Bell). What’s yours?
I grew up on Taco Bell. Paul, that’s mine too! Taco Supreme or Nachos Bellgrande and a Diet Pepsi all the way. Funny how
I would have a diet soda with a meal like that. Hello, Tiffani… that makes no sense! I would hit the beach on the weekends with my family or friends and we would always stop by Taco Bell on our way home to fill that craving. (Shhhh, don’t tell anyone.)
How do you plan your shows—the food and guests?
I plan my menus and themes first then build the guests around those menus, hoping that it all works out with their schedules. Of course that doesn’t always happen, so we always have back up plans in place just in case. But I have to say we have been pretty lucky. I also have to work with certain people’s dietary restrictions as well. I have many friends who are vegans, vegetarians, and gluten free. So like my mother taught me a long time ago… always be prepared for anything.
What’s the one thing we don’t know about Tiffani?
I hate tomatoes on my sandwiches. And I used to be a vegetarian for almost 15 years. I broke that streak when I was pregnant with my daughter. After a yoga class I walked into an In-N-Out and ordered a cheeseburger. I never went back. I later found out I was low in iron, so I understood why I was craving meat so badly.
Season 3 of Dinner at Tiffani’s. I’m also doing a summer special of Dinner at Tiffani’s in NY and a holiday special. And then between nursing the baby, no sleep, making food for my first grader, and an always hungry husband… I will be able to finish my cookbook. You have done many of those, Paul! Any pointers?