By Samantha Simon
Aug 28, 2017 @ 1:30 pm
Courtesy

Whether she’s whipping up a themed meal on her Cooking Channel show, Dinner at Tiffani’s, or making family-friendly food at home, Tiffani Thiessen spends a great deal of time in the kitchen. But when she’s prepping a meal off-camera, the former Saved by the Bell star plays to a very different audience: her 7-year-old daughter, Harper, and 2-year-old son, Holt.

“Connecting with your family in the kitchen is huge,” Thiessen told InStyle last week. The star’s passion for bonding over a meal has led her to team up with Uncle Ben’s for the Ben’s Beginners Cooking Contest, which challenges families to create lifelong memories in the kitchen. And for Thiessen, you can consider that challenge accepted. “I spend so much time in the kitchen because I love it, so I figure, why not have my kids next to me?”

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It seems that Thiessen’s culinary prowess is already rubbing off on her children. “Now that she’s seven, my daughter is so hugely into cooking,” she said. “She's very much wanting to be right next to me and really being a little cook herself. She's even taken cooking camp during the summer.” Skill-wise, Harper is already making huge strides. “She can really do a lot,“ said Thiessen. “She makes her own rice—she’s a huge rice eater. I think the only thing that I don't put in front of her is anything deep-fried, which is probably for the best. But I just started having her learn how to use a kid-friendly knife.”

As Harper is working her way up to more advanced utensils, Holt is still exploring simpler silverware. “My little one is more into mixing and making sounds with metal spoons and things like that,” said Thiessen. “But that’s where they start.” Holt may be in the earliest stages of becoming a mini-chef, but it’s after the meal when his talents really shine. “He loves doing dishes,” said Thiessen. “I have a special little stool that I slide him into, and I put him right up to the sink, throw the water on a little bit, give him soapy water and let him do all the plastic stuff. So he will literally do dishes. I'm training him to be an amazing husband!”

Holt is already taking after his dad in terms of appetite. “When I’m trying to make something in the kitchen, my son and my husband come in and eat everything that I’m trying to prep before I can actually put it together,” said Thiessen. “That constantly goes on in my kitchen. My husband loves food, and my little boy is definitely a foodie already. From day one, I’ve said that he's my little gourmet baby—there is nothing that kid doesn't eat. My daughter's a little more picky, but she's getting better. Having her more involved in the kitchen has helped that a lot, I think. When she's actually putting herself in there and prepping the meal with me, she's more apt to eat it, which is huge. It’s a great tip that I’ve learned, especially for picky eaters.”

Harper’s palate may not be quite as expansive as the rest of her family’s, but she’s already following in her mom’s footsteps when it comes to hamming it up for the camera. “A couple of months ago, she had me record her doing ‘Dinner at Harper’s,’” said Thiessen. “I literally had to record her doing her own cooking show, and she was pretty adamant about what I did and where I had to put everything she was making— I think it was banana bread at the time. She wanted me to put everything in the ingredients, so I wrote little sticky notes of the exact amounts next to each measuring cup or teaspoon or whatever, and then she did it all by herself to the camera. It was pretty funny.”

And that was just one of Thiessen’s many LOL-worthy mom experiences so far. “There are so many silly moments, it’s on a constant level,” said Thiessen. “Right now, Holt is getting his vocabulary, so he probably gains 20 new words a day. It's pretty amazing. He's definitely got his own little personality happening and he knows when he makes people laugh, so he'll just keep doing it if he thinks it's funny.”

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