Already have an account?
Get back to the

Chef and TV Host Daphne Oz Dishes on ‘MasterChef Junior’ Season 9, Staying Healthy and Finding Inspiration (EXCLUSIVE)

In this Q&A the Daytime Emmy Award-winner opens up about family, fun and of course, food!

There’s nothing Daphne Oz loves more than a good meal. As a busy mom of four, Daphne is keenly aware of how hard it can be to find the time to make delicious and healthy dishes for her family, and as a bestselling author, chef and judge on MasterChef Junior, she has a lot on her plate — both metaphorically and literally!

As the daughter of Dr. Mehmet Oz, Daphne grew up with her fair share of tips for healthy living, and her passion for nutritious food and helping other women has lead to multiple cookbooks, including Eat Your Heart Out: All-Fun, No-Fuss Food to Celebrate Eating Clean. In addition to being an author, Daphne has also become a household name, appearing on a number of shows to share her easy, nutritious meals.

Daphne Oz in 2017Getty

She previously cohosted The Chew (and won a Daytime Emmy Award!) and was a judge on Cooks vs. Cons. And on March 4th, Daphne is returning as a judge on the ninth season of MasterChef Junior on FOX (airing 8:00 ET/PT), alongside chef Gordon Ramsay, his daughter Tilly and chef Aarón Sánchez , where the chefs help guide young contestants to make delicious dishes and compete to take home $100,000.

Aaron Sanchez and Daphne Oz helping a young chef, MasterChef Jr. season 9FOX

Ahead of MasterChef Junior‘s much-anticipated new season, Daphne Oz spoke to FIRST for Women about how she makes life happy, healthy and delicious.

FIRST for WOMEN: How do you feel that becoming a mom changed your approach to life?

Daphne Oz: Becoming a mother just recalibrates your entire life and gives you such a different, chaotic, rich and layered and beautiful skill. I’m a big proponent of being able to explore life’s passages, and now even more as a mother, I’m able to look at things from before very differently.

Daphne Oz with her family in 2024
Daphne Oz with her family in 2024@daphneoz/Instagram

Being in the kitchen is being in the heart of the home and I love that experience of being able to recreate memories with my own children that I had as a child with my mom and grandmother. It’s truly beautiful.

FFW: Would you say it was your mother and grandmother who were your biggest role models?

Daphne Oz: Definitely. My mom had me when she was 22 and my dad was in medical school, so when he was in the hospital we would drive to her parents’ farm and I grew up there in many ways.

A few things have stuck with me as to why they are role models, besides their unconditional love and support and presence in my life. They’ve given me a lifelong love of learning.

They both went back for graduate degrees later in life, read voraciously and have an unending desire to improve themselves and use that knowledge to improve their family and communities. I want my kids to remember that their mom had a great time with them and life is always an adventure.

Daphne Oz with her parents, Lisa and Dr. Mehmet Oz, in 2017Getty

FFW: What was the best advice your family ever gave you?

Daphne Oz: My grandmother, who’s a mom of six, always told me, “Don’t make your kids resent you more than the food,” so I don’t insist that my kids finish their plates or anything, but I still want them to try everything once just to explore new flavors.

I found that my kids have big personalities and when I was trying to force them to eat foods that I thought they should, it became a battle of wills.

FFW: How do you motivate yourself to work out in the midst of such a busy life?

Daphne Oz: I don’t set my sights too high or I’ll bow out. I love playing tennis and just competed in a tournament with my brother. I’m a big fan of tennis. And I walk a lot. I walk my dog and walk with my husband.

Walking with my husband is motivation because it’s such a special time having just the two of us bonding. And when I’m walking alone or with my dog, I put on my headset and take some phone calls so I’m multitasking, which is a good motivator.

Daphne Oz and her brother, Oliver, in their tennis garb, 2024
Daphne Oz and her brother, Oliver, in their tennis garb in 2024@daphneoz/Instagram

Quieting the mind is not something I’ve mastered yet. If I’m lucky to have some quiet time of my own, I’ll listen to an audiobook or podcast or do my Instagram stories.

Right now I’m listening to the book Hidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things by Adam Grant. It’s a nonfiction, motivating, fascinating book about our own misconceptions about our potential and how to get the best out of yourself and others. It’s truly an eye-opening book.

FFW: What brings you joy and puts a smile on your face on a regular basis?

Daphne Oz: Besides cooking and making a beautiful meal? Finding a new place to explore. Anytime I’m in a new place with any spare time, I just wander, and maybe it’s the Aquarius in me, but I love that un-pressured experience of novelty, exploration and adventure.

Maybe I stumble upon that little hole in the wall local eatery or a cute specialty shop that sells really unique things — those things spark my joy and give me a sense of how much more there is to see.

Take a simple farmers market, for example, where the fruit is really ugly and really delicious at the same time. That’s what I love and what brings a smile to my face. Exploring and enjoying the world, bite after bite, makes me smile.

FFW: In your Happy Cook and Eat Your Heart Out books, you had healthy twists on comfort classics. What are your favorite comfort foods and how have you made them healthy?

Daphne Oz: I want quick, healthy, nourishing foods that feel filling and indulgent and quite good for me. I recently shared this recipe on social media and it blew up. It’s chicken thighs with dates. I always thought dates were a fun inclusion.

The dates give a sultry, subtle addition to the citrusy sauce in the recipe and then the chicken thighs are so delicious and juicy. I serve it over cauliflower rice, which is my favorite if you’re craving a rice bowl moment but want something healthier with fewer carbs.

Daphne Oz posing with a salad in 2023
Daphne Oz shows off one of her healthy meals in 2023@daphneoz/Instagram

Another healthy comfort food is pizza. Who doesn’t love pizza? For a quick evening meal, I’ll take a tortilla and just build my pizza on top of it and plop into the oven. It becomes a quick and easy pizza. With the tons of vegetables I layer on there, it’s almost a salad on a pizza, but it’s crispy, warm and quite delicious.

FFW: What’s the inspiration behind your cookbooks?

Daphne Oz: I’m someone who loves to eat and loves to cook. We all have times when healthy eating falls by the wayside, and I was really tired of feeling that “getting back on track” with weight meant I had to give up flavor and have bland, unexciting food.

I knew there were better options out there. When you’re eating well, it should still be a happy, indulgent moment. Restricting ourselves with too many rules means we stop enjoying mealtime and start missing out. Food is this joyful, celebratory part of our day.

Daphne Oz, 2016
Daphne Oz with her cookbook in 2016Getty

FFW: If you could go back to a difficult time in your life, what advice would you give yourself?

Daphne Oz: What advice I would give myself today is to take it one day at a time and learn to enjoy the experience as it’s coming to you. I was the first of my friends to have children, so I was out on a limb a little bit.

Ultimately it’s about being a little bit flexible and I think that’s the parenting journey in general. Give up on some of the rigidity you have set for yourself.

Daphne Oz, 2017
Mom-to-be Daphne Oz in 2017Getty

FFW: What do you look for when sizing up these pint-sized cooking competitors on MasterChef Junior?

Daphne Oz: It’s really about their potential to learn and adapt. Nobody is coming into this competition fully formed. Of course not! They’re 8 to 13 year olds — they’re kids. So you’re not looking for perfection.

I look for adaptability and craftsmanship, and their ability to use what we’re teaching them week after week and bring it into their style of cooking and their heritage, and show it to us each week. I think that’s why it’s so much fun to watch MasterChef Junior.

You never know what these kids are going to say or do. They’re not beholden to the acceptable way of cooking that an expert would do, but sometimes what they come up with is even more delicious.

FOX-Masterchef JrFOX

FFW: What can we expect from the new season of MasterChef Junior?

Daphne Oz: What’s so special about the current season is we were able to do tryouts by Zoom, so kids came from all over the country, kids who had never left home before, kids who ate out a lot or never did. We’re getting a really wide array of wonderfully creative minds.

At the core of them is the real joy and pleasure in trying new things and learning in the kitchen. And you can see how confident they feel, even when they’re getting tough feedback.

Don’t miss the premiere of MasterChef Jr. on Monday, March 4th on FOX at 8:00PM ET/PT.

For more FIRST for Women exclusive interviews, click through below!

Former ‘DWTS’ pro Kym Johnson-Herjavec Talks Her Second Act As a Leading Lady: “It’s Never Too Late!” (EXCLUSIVE)

Susan Gallagher Dishes on Hallmark’s ‘A Taste of Love’ & Creating Her Own Destiny As An Actress (EXCLUSIVE)

‘The Young and The Restless’ Star Colleen Zenk Talks Villainous Jordan & Her Newman Vendetta (EXCLUSIVE)

Hallmark Star Alison Sweeney Talks ‘Love & Jane,’ Hannah Swensen and more (EXCLUSIVE)

More Stories

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.