Nia Vardalos Teaches Daughter Greek – in the Kitchen

12/22/2009 at 04:00 PM ET

It’s always stressful to whip up a holiday feast, but Nia Vardalos has an extra-special helper in the kitchen this year — her 4-year-old daughter.

“She’s my sous chef,” the My Big Fat Greek Wedding star told PEOPLE at the taping of the 11th Annual Home for the Holidays. “I give her a plastic knife and just get her to chop things up. [For] Christmas, I suddenly have a young helper in the kitchen!”

Since announcing late last year that she and husband Ian Gomez had adopted a preschooler, Nia has started passing on her Greek heritage using her favorite holiday recipes.

“She makes something called salt-and-pepper soup,” Nia explained while backstage at the holiday concert presented by Wendy’s Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. “I just give her every ingredient in the house and say it in English and in Greek, and she stirs it up!”

The new mom has also found herself in some seriously sticky situations over the last year.

“Becoming a mom to me means you have accepted that for the next 16 years of your life, you will have a sticky purse,” she says. “[Mine] is always filled with stuff I didn’t put there, from leftover Tootsie Rolls to wet wipes that got squished to the bottom. It makes me laugh every day.”

Home for the Holidays, featuring performances by Faith Hill, Mary J. Blige, Reba McEntire, Shakira, Carrie Underwood and Michael Franti, airs Wednesday on CBS.

— Melody Chiu

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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Alex509 on

Does anyone know her daughters name or what country she is adopted from? Have any pictures ever been released?

Brooke on

Nia has been very private. I do not think that anyone knows her name….

Kat on

we know she adopted her from the US through the foster care system, but she’s chosen to keep her daughter’s life private and out of the spotlight, which I think is wonderful.

And Nia sounds like she’s enjoying motherhood so much and doing a wonderful job of it, too.

Lacey on

Alex-Her daughter is from the US. Shocking! I know, who knew an American can adopt an American. (Sarcasm)

Catey on

Lacey, I have no idea why that was such a nasty reponse. Alex asked which country the child was born in and Kat has already answered it. Wierd. Your response is obviously about more than what Alex said.

I love stories of families sharing their cultures with their children. I read somewhere that Jessica Alba does the same language game with Honor in the kitchen and I think it is a lovely tradition.

All the best to Nia and her family!

mrsh on

How wonderful! My mom never taught me or my brother Greek, even though it’s her first language. It would have made speaking to our grandmother easier. She still struggles with English, even though she’s been in the US for over 50 years.

Mina on

I’m glad Nia & other celebrities are adopting school age children! They need homes too & some people think if they dont get someone while they’re a cute, impressionable baby, they wont be able to love them & that’s not true. It’s makes me sad when I see an Foster Agency in the mall & you see pictures of TEENAGERS & young children who’s been in the system a majority of their lives just waiting for homes.

Jess from Ohio on

I have always been dying to know her daughters name. But I completely respect that Nia and her husband are keeping her life private. It sounds like she is having a blast raising her.

Kelly on

Actually, Nia’s not an American. She’s a Greek-Canadian girl from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Sandra from Copenhagen on

Jess from Ohio;
Same here – I really want to know her name, but I respect Nia so much for keeping some things private, such as her daughter’s name 🙂

Amy on

I don’t think Lacey comment was nasty, I took it as she was being sarcastic about a celebrity adopting an American child while most celebrities have been adopting abroad, (i.e Angelina/Brad, Madonna, Katherine Heigl, Meg Ryan, etc.)

LT on

Lacey – and how many children from the US foster care system have you adopted? Oh, none? Then stop judging others for how they choose to build their family – it always amazes me how people who do nothing for children will criticize others for the choices they make.

Allison on

Geez people! Leave Lacey alone! She wasn’t judging anyone, just commenting on a comment from someone else. I agree with her sarcastic comment. We automatically assume that when a celebrity adopts a child, the child is from another country, so it’s “shocking” when we find out the child is from the US. And I applaud Nia for adopting from here. I never understood the need celebrities feel to adopt from another country (except Katherine Heigle, I think it’s great she adopted a child from the same country her adopted sister is from) I think we as a country need to focus on finding homes for all of the children here before we make such a big deal when a celebrity adopts outside of the US, it should be an even BIGGER deal when they adopt a child from HERE!!