Going back to school (and the cafeteria) with Tiffani Thiessen

Raechal Shewfelt
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
Actress Tiffani Thiessen is an A-plus cook. (Photo: Getty Images)

Back at school, mean kids will once again be trading food they brought from home with classmates, and the students who go to school with Tiffani Thiessen’s 7-year-old daughter, Harper, are seriously lucky. They should definitely trade that pudding cup with her, if only she’ll agree. (She probably won’t.)

“They actually have organic food at Harper’s school, so she gets what they call hot lunch at school every day, but then I pack her snacks,” Thiessen, best known for her role as Saved by the Bell’s Kelly Kapowski, tells Yahoo. “So it’s anywhere from homemade hummus and carrot sticks to homemade granola bars.”


Thiessen, 43, is quite a cook, a skill she shared on her Cooking Channel show, Dinner at Tiffani’s, beginning in 2015. For her, whipping up meals has always been a way of life.

“I have memories of wanting to be in the kitchen with my mom and my grandmother and my aunt. They were all in there having fun, it seemed,” Thiessen says. “As I got older, I, of course, got invited in to start cooking with them.”

Thiessen says her show will not continue for another season, but she hopes to cook on TV again one day.

“Well, sadly, Dinner at Tiffani’s is done,” Thiessen says. “We didn’t get renewed, kind of a surprise.”

Still, Thiessen is busy, working on an upcoming Netflix teen comedy, Alexa & Katie, as well as her lifestyle website, a cookbook for early next year, and a children’s book written with her husband of 12 years, actor Brady Smith. She’s also constantly cooking at home for and with her family, which includes Harper and a 2-year-old son, Holt.

Tiffani Thiessen and daughter Harper bond in the kitchen. (Photo: Michael Simon/Startraks.com)

“I’m such a believer in making memories and moments in the kitchen,” Thiessen says. “I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and having my family right next to me is the greatest thing, and now that Harper’s gotten a little bit older and really wants to be involved, she’s learning how to use a knife. It’s fun, it’s been really super fun to have her next to me, and even my little guy, he’s in there doing dishes with daddy afterwards.”

She’s aiming to inspire other parents to cook with their children — teaching them a skill that they’ll use for life and will help them eat healthier — as part of Ben’s Beginners Cooking Contest, from Uncle Ben’s Rice. Now through Oct. 9, parents with children in kindergarten through eighth grade can submit a photo of their family cooking a rice dish together, for a chance to win one of five prize packages, which include $15,000 cash and a $30,000 makeover for their school cafeteria.

Tiffani Thiessen and husband Brady Smith attend a movie premiere. (Photo: Getty Images)

As for Thiessen, her family tends to go for simpler things on the menu for school nights: soups (when it’s cool enough), homemade macaroni and cheese (Holt’s favorite), Mexican food, or roasted chicken. Leftovers of the latter can then be “put into so many other things after you’ve had the chicken for the first night,” she notes. “I’m a firm believer in leftovers and repurposing food.”

At school, Thiessen, who joined the cast of Beverly Hills, 90210 in its fifth season, has a word of advice for any new kids who are worried about fitting in with other students.

“I think, be yourself, is what I did,” she says.

Kids, just know that having yummy, made-from-scratch snacks to share doesn’t hurt either.

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