- Chrissy Teigen helped her mom, Pepper Teigen, turn her Thai recipes into a cookbook.
- As an adult, Chrissy loves Pepper’s recipes, but as a child, she was embarrassed by them.
- Pepper told Insider that now the two cook and eat her Thai food together with the whole family.
Best-selling cookbook author Chrissy Teigen urged her mother, Vilailuck “Pepper” Teigen, to write a cookbook of her own. The home-cooking icon had included some of her mother’s recipes in both of her “Cravings” books, but now, as she wrote in the foreword for “The Pepper Thai Cookbook,” she wants people to get “the full ‘Thai Mom’ experience.”
Though she now has numerous favorite dishes that her mom makes — Pepper told Insider that the book is essentially filled with them — Chrissy admittedly spent most of her childhood embarrassed by Pepper’s Thai cooking.
“Mom’s food looked different and smelled different — honestly, I was a little embarrassed about it when I was young,” Chrissy wrote.
In an interview with Insider, Pepper said she remembers times when her daughter was ashamed of the smells and flavors that she now adores.
“She was, you know, in fifth or sixth grade and very popular in her class,” Pepper told Insider. She said Chrissy would bring friends over to their house and she would tailor her cooking accordingly.
Pepper remembers young Chrissy asking for grilled cheese and pizza “like most kids.”
In the book’s introduction, Pepper wrote about a time when she “put herbs in one of my Thai salads and [Chrissy] yelled at me, ‘MOM! Why are you eating weeds?'”
For Pepper, cooking was a way to stay connected to her family and Thai roots
Born in Thailand, Pepper was raised in a small town outside the city of Korat — a popular food city, according to the author. In the introduction to her book, Pepper wrote that she grew up around cooking and began to help her mother, a lunch vendor, while in third grade.
When she moved to the US with Chrissy’s father, Ron Teigen, she found herself driving upward of an hour just to find familiar ingredients like fish sauce that she wanted to cook with.
“Some days I would cry because I missed that special flavor of Isaan food so much,” she wrote.
Though it wasn’t a popular meal choice for Ron, Chrissy, and Pepper’s first daughter Tina, she said she used food to remember her home and share her life — and her mother’s culinary legacy — with her children.
As an adult, Chrissy has a new appreciation for her mother’s food
Pepper said that it was difficult to navigate mealtime when her daughters were young.
“I ate differently from them. I ate more spice, more fish sauce, more anchovy, so I waited until my family was done and then I would make my own,” she told Insider.
Pepper now lives with Chrissy, Chrissy’s husband John Legend, and their two children, and they all love to cook and eat together.
“Now, I’m so openly cooking,” Pepper said. “Our house smells of chilis and everything all day long. People are more accepting of Thai food now. All of our friends, they eat everything that I offer them now.”
And Chrissy is such a fan of her mother’s recipes that she wanted her to write them all down in a collection that became “The Pepper Thai Cookbook.”
“I see she feels guilty that she was embarrassed growing up,” Pepper told Insider. She laughed as she recalled times when she would be listening to Thai music and Chrissy would say, “Turn it down! Turn it down!”
“But she’s good now,” Pepper said. “She’s really realized, you know, people learn as they grow.” She said she doesn’t hold that against her and described their relationship as “so close.”
The mother-daughter duo now cooks together and helps each other out in the kitchen, sharing the same bond that Pepper said she had with her own mother growing up.
“The Pepper Thai Cookbook” was released on Tuesday.