White Collar star Tiffani Thiessen has managed to combine her love of food and being in front of the camera with a new Cooking Channel show, Dinner at Tiffani’s. Before it premieres at 10 p.m. Feb. 25, the 41-year-old actress (Saved by the Bell, Beverly Hills 90210) will head to the South Beach Wine & Food Festival for a cooking demo at the Grand Tasting Village at 2 p.m. Feb. 22.
We talked to Thiessen, who lives in L.A. with her husband, actor Brady Smith, and their 4-year-old daughter, Harper. On top of all her projects, Thiessen is also expecting a boy this summer.
When did you develop a love for cooking?
It’s always been a part of my life as a passion of mine starting when I was a little girl learning with my mom and my aunt. That love developed as I traveled the world to different countries trying different foods. But the idea for the show came to me a few years ago because my friends would always joke, ‘Let’s go have dinner at Tiffani’s’ because I was always entertaining and having people over. I threw the Cooking Channel the idea. It was definitely one of the easiest jobs I’ve ever had. We shot it at the end of last year, and it went by way too fast. I hope to do it again.
Can you describe the format?
We shot in real time in a real kitchen. It wasn’t scripted. Guests would come in and out at different times, and I put them to work, whether it’s chopping or blending or getting something out of the oven. You’ll see my guests in a really organic way, telling stories and being themselves: Celebrities like Tim Meadows from Saturday Night Live, who is an old, dear friend; Ross Matthews from E!, who is just adorable and awesome on camera; and [former costar] Jason Priestley. He and I got married within nine weeks of each other so I have a special wedding-themed show where we reminisce.
What is your signature style of cooking?
I would say it’s silly. When I’m not pregnant I have a glass of wine in my hand! I don’t have a typical meal that I make. I’m an Aquarius so I get bored easily and can’t have the same thing every day. It’s either my husband telling me what he wants for dinner or my daughter giving me another opinion. Pizza night is always great — we roll our own dough and get messy. I’m lucky I have a daughter who likes fruits and vegetables. We have our own farm and plant the seeds, grow our own and pick everything. I highly advise it for anyone who has the space.
So your daughter has an adventurous palate like you?
She definitely has sophisticated tastes. I remember the first piece of candy I gave her was black licorice because I loved it. I know some people can’t stand it. She has been bicoastal her whole life. Living in New York City while I shoot White Collar has helped her develop a wide range of food likes, I think. We have five chickens also. She loves making fresh eggs for daddy. But I don’t think she understands that they are the same as the chicken we put on our plate. When that realization comes that will be interesting. I was vegetarian for 16 years so I’ll support whatever direction she would like to go.