It’s the season of friendly get-togethers, barbeques, and feasts with the family.  It’s that time of year when people gather around for potlucks and share heirloom recipes.  It’s also that time of year when finding a gift for Mom may be very much on your mind.

That’s why a cookbook and hosting guide curated by a mother may be the savviest find of the season, and why we’re Pull[ing] Up a Chair with Tiffani Thiessen, celebrating her first cookbook after a hiatus from her Dinner at Tiffani’s lifestyle show.  

Debuting the book, which she describes as “very family friendly,” in upstate New York on the famed farm of The Fabulous Beekman Boys [Planet Green/Cooking Channel], Thiessen reiterates that mealtimes are best enjoyed surrounded by people and ingredients you love. 

“I think that’s why we’ve hit it off,” she says of Beekman 1802’s Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge, “because they have that same philosophy about what food and friendship really is.”

“I grew up in a family where we always had dinner. Five to seven days a week, everybody sat down,” Thiessen tells Pursuitist.  “My Dad was home from work; my Mom had finished the meal; we were home from school… and I feel like a part of that has been lost in our world right now, where we are always on the phones and computers.  Pulling up a chair — and food in general, to me — is about connecting and having that chance.  It’s not just about feeding our bodies and having something great on the table to eat.”

Connecting sometimes means literally getting the children involve in making the meal. “We meal plan; we talk about some new dishes, some repeats, and I always try to get the kids to eat something new once a week. It’s not always great, but they definitely try.  They are still at that age,” she laughs as her son and daughter revel in the farm’s goat herd, and husband, actor Brady Smith, looks on.

Thiessen doesn’t claim to be a chef, but rather a self-taught home cook who learned from females in her family.  And she’ll be the first to tell you that recipes in Pull Up a Chair are not hard — far from it! 

That’s why they’re the perfect inspiration for hosting family holidays.  “I love hosting,” she says, rattling off a list of dishes that she plans for major celebrations like Thanksgiving and Christmas — “Last year we had four different ways to do a turkey!” — yet affirming that Pull Up a Chair has so many recipes for more informal or intimate special occasions, too, like a Mother’s Day brunch, or even a typical Tuesday night.

Restaurants, chefs, travel, her kids, and spending time on the Beekman Boys’ farm in Sharon Springs are on her list of inspirations, which sound pretty perfect for this time of year.  Plus, the recipes are ideal for gatherings, which makes Pull Up A Chair a great and gourmet gift for the hostess or mother who inspires you.