It should come as no surprise that Chrissy Teigen's mom is cooking with heat!
Vilailuck "Pepper" Teigen, grandmother and master of the "hot girl shot," helped inspire her daughter's cravings for all things delicious and is now branching into the-make-it-yourself space with her own cookbook, The Pepper Thai Cookbook: Family Recipes From Everyone's Favorite Thai Mom.
Which, though she's certainly taught Chrissy a few things over the years, probably wouldn't have come together without this key bit of advice from her offspring.
"Be organized and measure it and 'Write it down, Mom!'" Pepper exclusively told E! News, summing up Chrissy's input toward her book, which is on sale April 13. "So I did [and] that's how we got this book, because I wrote it down."
As the author of two bestselling cookbooks of her own, plus proprietor of the Cravings by Chrissy Teigen website, which features "Pepper's Corner" cooking tutorials, the frequent cover girl would indeed be the expert in the family when it comes to making yummy visions come to life.
"I've learned so much from her, actually, because I've always cooked everything like a mom and grandma, nothing written down," Pepper said. "I'm so proud of her, I've been watching her from the first book. She's really organized and she likes learning, she's put herself into cooking classes—she loved doing that."
Though while her daughter has acquired some professional-grade techniques in the course of becoming everyone's favorite at-home cook, Chrissy's fashionably long manicure isn't exactly conducive to showing off those knife skills. So that's where Mom comes in.
"She might ask me for help cutting or chopping, shredding," Pepper admitted. "She's very good on her own," but "shredding stuff, she might scrape a nail. I can do it quick. Cutting, chopping, I can do it really fast."
Pepper's book features recipes for kids of all ages, from classics like pad Thai and curries to her household-famous scalloped potatoes and the garlic ribs beloved by her grandkids, Luna, 5 (on April 14), and Miles, 2. "They love having garlic now," added the proud matriarch, who was born in Thailand.
But while our mouths are already watering in anticipation, what makes the book truly special are the personal stories that go with the dishes, mainly "things that I used to do with Chrissy," Pepper explained. "Like [getting] fried bananas from the Thai old lady that lived in my neighborhood that I loved so much. I was never able to get the recipe because she was a vendor off the street. It was Chrissy's favorite, always asking me for it all the time. The fun things like that."
Chrissy was born in Delta, Utah, before her family—Pepper, dad Ron Teigen and her older half-sister Tina—moved to Snohomish, Wash., where Ron (also a foodie) and Pepper ran a tavern called Porky's.
When Chrissy was 15, Pepper returned to Thailand to care for her father, who was dying of lung cancer. Three months after he passed, her mother died suddenly in an accident, sending Pepper into a depression that wouldn't lift for months. And she didn't immediately return home to her own family.
Instead, Ron moved the girls to Huntington Beach, Calif., Chrissy started modeling, eventually met future EGOT winner John Legend and the rest is history.
But she has obviously since reconnected with her mother in a big way, Pepper now living with her daughter's family in Los Angeles to help care for Luna and Miles—which, happily for all involved, includes lots of cooking.
"She's just their everything," Chrissy recently told People of her daughter and son's feelings for their grandma. "They have their little secrets and their little world. It's just so beautiful that she is so energetic and so there and present for our kids and our family." Added Pepper, "I'm living the best life, is that what it is? I'm so happy."
Yet, incidentally, Pepper is also "single and ready to mingle," the Cravings: Hungry for More author added. But if anything, that might just mean that there's room for one more at the spacious Legend-Teigen abode, should the right person come along to spice up Pepper's life.
Because for now, mother and daughter are still busily making up for lost time, and both Chrissy and John love having her around.
"She just wants to hold my hand again and drag me around everywhere," Pepper told Vanity Fair in 2019, reportedly smiling and wiping away tears at the same time as they recounted the years they spent apart. "Even now, you know, she's like 'Mom, let's go to Rodeo Drive!'"
Still, the story of why her mother stayed away for so long and whatever role her father may have played in that decision remained untold. (Chrissy told the press at a 2018 event that Ron, whose tartar sauce recipe is in her first cookbook, lived nearby and "it's a good family life. We're all very close, very tight–knit." Despite living apart for years, her parents' divorce was just finalized last May.)
"I think I'm such an open person now because everyone in my family has always been so hush-hush," Chrissy told the magazine. "I love attention and affection. I want to be direct with everyone."
That unabashed openness followed Chrissy into one of the most painful moments of her life last year, when she lost a pregnancy—a boy who they had named Jack—at 20 weeks. She was upfront about the "utter devastation" she and John were feeling and shared photos of them cradling their swaddled son in her hospital bed.
"I've learned how strong physically and mentally a body can be," Chrissy recently told People. "I've learned how strong I am. This year has been a roller coaster for everybody in the world, including our little family."
Yet while they expect to feel that absence in their lives forever, there's also a new presence, which Pepper sought to honor in dedicating her cookbook to her late grandson.
"Chrissy was craving Thai food a lot during the pregnancy," she recalled to E! News. "Still he is with us, we take him with us everywhere. He's around every day. I had to include him. Even for me now, I'm a Buddhist, so I think he is with my parents, my grandparents, my dog, everyone together. They look after us, our family here."
No, that tear in your eye isn't just the chili peppers talking.
The Pepper Thai Cookbook is on sale now.