Podcast Episode 105

A Heartfelt Talk with Daphne Oz: Exploring Family, Food, Social Media and Authenticity

Daphne Oz | 60 Minutes | April 2, 2024

In today’s episode, we speak with Daphne Oz, Emmy Award-winning television host, New York Times-bestselling author, natural foods chef, and daughter of Dr. Oz.

As a previous co-host at The Good Dish and ABC’s The Chew, Daphne dives into what it takes to start a career in TV hosting and her best social media tips. With features in notable publications such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post, Daphne shares more about her distinct culinary philosophy, advocating confidence-boosting recipes with healthy twists. This is reflected in her latest cookbook, Eat Your Heart Out: All-Fun, No-Fuss Food to Celebrate Eating Clean.

Listen as Daphne talks about what she’s learned from being a judge on MasterChef Junior, auditioning to become a TV host, and managing life as a content creator.

Watch the podcast episode:

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Notes & Transcript


Kirk Bachmann: Hi everyone, my name is Kirk Bachmann, and welcome back to The Ultimate Dish. Today, I’m speaking – and I’m super excited – with the accomplished Daphne Oz, Emmy award-winning television host, “New York Times” bestselling author, natural food chef, wife, and mother of four.

As a previous co-host of “The Good Dish” and ABC’s “The Chew,” Daphne graced TV screens for years, with appearances on “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “The Rachael Ray Show,” “Fox & Friends,” and currently she serves as a judge on Fox’s “MasterChef Junior – with a new season premiering on March 4, just a bit before this episode airs!

Her influence extends beyond television, with features in notable publications such as the “New York Times,” “Wall Street Journal,” “Washington Post,” and more. Daphne’s insights have been highlighted in “Reader’s Digest,” “Glamour,” “Teen Vogue,” “Seventeen,” “Cosmopolitan,” “People,” and “US Weekly.”

Daphne is also a seasoned food writer, advocating confidence-boosting recipes with healthy twists. In her latest cookbook, “Eat Your Heart Out: All-Fun, No-Fuss Food to Celebrate Eating Clean,” she shares 150 recipes free of gluten and refined sugar.

Join us today as we chat with Daphne about what it takes to start a career in TV hosting, her best social media tips, and so much more.

And there she is! Good morning!

Daphne Oz: Good morning! Thank you for that wonderful introduction.

On Birthdays and Life Priorities

Kirk Bachmann: I am out of breath. My favorite part of that is “free of gluten and refined sugar.” That’s a statement. Most people say “gluten-free” but this is “free of gluten.” I love it. I love it. It gets your attention.

Before we get started, Daphne, I have to say, I did a little bit of research. It looks like you’re celebrating a birthday very, very soon.

Daphne Oz: I am.

Kirk Bachmann: We have to say happy birthday. I love birthdays. I love my birthday. I love anybody’s birthday.

Daphne Oz: Do you? How did you learn to love your birthday? It feels very highly pressurized and stressful to me.

Kirk Bachmann: For whatever reason. My birthday is September 1. I love that it’s on a one, and I love the month-

Daphne Oz: You’re a Virgo.

Kirk Bachmann: I’m a Virgo!

Daphne Oz: Now I understand.

Kirk Bachmann: I love it! It’s all about me. I have never apologized for it. I tell everyone. I remind everyone. I love gifts. How about you? How are you?

Daphne Oz: I love that. It’s so funny. So many of my favorite people are Virgos, I think in part because I just feed off of their intrinsic organizational skill sets and motivate-

Kirk Bachmann: Well, that’s a stretch.

Daphne Oz: Absolutely. I’m an Aquarius, so I just like to fly above it all. Age is a number. I don’t know. Part of it is that I’ve got four children and my husband and a huge family. I feel like we have birthdays all the time. I’m always planning birthdays, so by the time my birthday comes around, I’m kind of like, “Let’s just sleep.”

Kirk Bachmann: Do you have any plans for this year? It’s a new year.

Daphne Oz: The thing, it’s a new year, and it’s a very exciting year. I’ve got some really thrilling projects in the works. All joking aside, I’m sure lots of women listening can relate to this statement: I think you’re a kid and you’re soaking up all the magic of childhood. Then you’re a teenager, and there are the fraught elements there. I’m sure we’ll touch on that. We’re going to talk a little bit about my beginning in publishing and where that started, and it did start during the trials and tribulations of my teenage years. And then you’re in your twenties, and you think you’re a grown-up, but so much of your priorities have yet to be really aligned, and you’re really sort of figuring out who you are and trying on lots of different versions of that. In your thirties, I have found, is really where you kind of hit your personal stride a little bit more. You really lean into the things that make you deeply happy and [that] you feel really valuable in being able to provide. It has been a really happy, cool, exciting time.

I also feel like I need hidden hours of the [day]. I need days. I need an eighth day of the week that nobody knows about so I can get all the other stuff that I haven’t gotten done during the week done on that eighth day.

Kids, Celebrating, and Food

Kirk Bachmann: I love that, like fake meetings on your calendar.

You bring up something really important. You have a big family; there’s a lot going on. This is not on the script, everyone. But your comment about how you change in your thirties. How does that reflect in how you celebrate things with your kids? Because you’ve changed. You’re still growing. They’re still about to get into that funnel. They’re spread out a little bit, too, in their age groups.

Daphne Oz: They’re all about 20-24 months apart. I’ve a daughter turning ten this month, which is wild to me that I’ve hit the double figures.

Kirk Bachmann: Great age.

Daphne Oz: Yeah. Great age. The great thing is I remember my tenth birthday. It feels interesting to be hitting the part of her life that she will remember and reflect back on. I have a ten, eight, six, and four.

Your question is interesting. All joking aside, I actually will be making my own birthday cake because the one thing I am deeply controlling about is what’s going in my mouth. We will be doing a big feast at home, and we do look for those moments to celebrate.

With regards to the kids, the way that I fell in love with cooking, the way that I hold onto a deep love of getting in the kitchen and creating and not taking it so seriously that it becomes stressful is because of that gathering moment. It is because of that celebratory moment. As much as possible, we try to harvest that as a family. Look, it’s a little bit easier to do when there are sixteen people gathering around at the dinner table that we have, but it’s always just a very joyful, interesting, and thought-provoking time. We try to have cool conversations. I think for me, most important, is that my kids never be afraid of food.

Kirk Bachmann: Oh, I like that.

Daphne Oz: People love to hear my thoughts about how to get kids to be adventurous eaters. I will never pretend to you that all my kids are adventurous eaters or that they eat everything because they don’t. They are individual little creatures. I have never been more surprised by something than how clear it is that your children are born exactly who they are and you kind of shave and mold where you can around the edges and push them to be their best versions, but they are exactly who they are. All to say, I try to make food really exciting and grown-up and cool. “Look at all this adventuring we get to do together.” I show them by my own example and my husband’s example how we like to live and interact with our food.

But, I also give them a lot of freedom. Sometimes they’re in the kitchen helping me. Sometimes I do things family style and let them serve themselves. They’re trying everything. I always say, “Big kids try everything once.” They’re trying everything, but it’s not my ego being pushed on them – “You must eat this food!” It’s more like, “I invite you to eat this food. How lucky are you that you get to eat this food with us.”

Kirk Bachmann: I’m really curious. That’s a big dinner table. Your life is food and sharing the food and the experiences with your adoring public. I saw something on TikTok just the other day, and it really got me thinking. This family decided to turn the lights off and have dinner by candlelight. Maybe it’s for TikTok, but it was fascinating because the comments were – and they had six kids. The comments were about how it calmed the mood. The kids were enamored with glow and all of this.

I’m curious. I know how it goes in our house. It’s a big table. We moved a lot of things. It’s a big table, and to your point, the kids sometimes participate, sometimes they don’t. We don’t get hung up on, “You have to eat what’s in front of you.” We explore in the kitchen. I’m curious: when you’re in it and you’ve made a beautiful meal – or together you’ve made a beautiful meal – then you see that incredible presentation that you’re like, “I’ve got to take a picture. I’ve got to take a picture.” How do you stay in the moment but also committed to your industry? Do you give up that moment for the family, or do they understand that you’ve got to take that picture of that beautiful presentation?

Daphne Oz: Do you know what’s funny? I’m going to tease out a couple of different things. First of all, the candlelight element is so interesting. Back in January, I was in LA visiting – I was there for MasterChef Junior – and I had dinner with a girlfriend. She very graciously hosted at her home. Her husband is of French origin, and they have three beautiful kids. They eat dinner every night by candlelight.

Kirk Bachmann: I love it!

Daphne Oz: I took this home. We do this on a weekly basis with my kids now. It is game-changing. It’s crazy. Of all the little funny, strange things that you could change about the habits you currently have, and trying to make mealtime special with your kids. Candlelight! Light a couple candles. Get some votives. It doesn’t have to be candelabras. I definitely subscribe to trying to create the moment.

I think it’s something that culturally [we] sometimes lose sight of because we are busy. I’ve never felt pulled in more directions with my kids’ activities. I’m running from basketball to baseball to this. It’s just nonstop. But I do think settling into that meeting place at the end of every day – or at the beginning of every day. Sometimes our days are crazy, and sometimes breakfast is the meal that we get to have all together and not dinner. Obviously, candlelight at breakfast doesn’t happen, but as much as possible, we do make them feel like moments.

To the question of how I honor the fact that I do create content for social media as part of my existence, but also not try to rob my children especially, but me, of these really happy moments. I don’t really see them existing as separate. I think that’s the beautiful part about the type of content that I create. It is very organic to my natural life. Certainly, there are contrived elements or things done specifically for social media. When I’m cooking for social media, I’m making a meal so I can show every step of the process. That is one type of content.

But when I’m cooking in the moment for my family, sometimes I shoot that content, too. People like that, too, because you get to see some of the chaos. This is genuinely just you in the moment of your everyday life. If you’re taking one quick picture of the beautiful table that you labored over, I don’t think that ruins the moment. If you’re there capturing every single conversation and interrupting the kids – “Get back together!” My kids are at that age, too, where they categorically refuse to take pictures sometimes. I don’t have it in me to try to force them to do that. What I get is what I get, and I don’t get upset.

For the most part, I think people are leaning in – from a consumer standpoint of social media, but also from a creator standpoint – give us what you love. You don’t have to shower us with constant updates. Show us what’s important, and show us what is really meaningful, or what’s really going to benefit me. What’s really going to make me feel like it is valuable time I spent perusing your social account. Because I try to be really selective about what I do share to make it really value added, I don’t feel the pull to be constantly creating. There is a trap for that, for sure.

Simple Food, Great Technique

Kirk Bachmann: Great answer. I think it’s the right answer.

I want to jump on the French theme just for a moment there. In some of our research, Noelle and I went down a rabbit hole, to be truthful. Watching your content, you’ve obviously found this really artful, playful way to post your content. It could just be me, but I pick up a little bit of a French-inspired – flair is the best word. Maybe it’s because I’m paying attention to the techniques, and French cooking is really about the technique, not necessarily the recipe or the ingredient. That’s what we teach. So I love that. It’s really obvious. Am I on the right page there?

Daphne Oz: For sure. Personally, I’m honored and thankful. I had braised chicken thighs with fennel, lemon, and dates recipe go viral last week. I’m wondering if it was you and Noelle.

Kirk Bachmann: My entire family. Yeah. No. Classic flavor profiles, which just yell French to me.

Daphne Oz: It’s not French specifically. My heritage. My father’s family is Turkish. My mom’s is Irish, Italian, and Welsh. Swedish in there. I definitely have, really, at the core of how I cook, providing that moment for family and loved ones and bringing people around the table. Nothing makes me happier than being at a European farmers’ market where the produce is ugly – hideously unattractive! – and tastes incredible. You have never had a lemon like an ugly lemon.

Kirk Bachmann: Right! Yeah.

Daphne Oz: I do. I really aspire in so many ways, leaning into my European grandmother self, who I am on the inside because there is a confidence, there is an incredible capability. There is so much heritage that is imbued into their food. They’re doing it just naturally. In everything, I want to feel more natural, and I want to feel more like I’m using fewer ingredients better. I’m using great techniques to make simple foods more special. I think that, to me, is really what makes cooking artful. Again, I also don’t have three hours to make dinner. It’s part of the process of leaning into that simplicity, which I think goes such a long way when you do it properly.

Kirk Bachmann: I think people get the wrong impression, sometimes, of the circa ‘80s and ‘90s of stuffy French food. You just said it beautifully and perfectly: simple food made better. Simple food made better. Really good message for our students. I think even our students try to over-complicate it sometimes, overthink it sometimes. Keep it simple.

Daphne Oz: Can I tell them a funny story about this?

Kirk Bachmann: They would love it.

Daphne Oz: My culinary education has had many layers to it. I grew up cooking at my mother’s and my grandmother’s elbows. I learn every time I eat, certainly, good food. Oh, also bad food! I learn every time I eat. I’ve been to culinary school, but one of the lessons that will never leave me.

It was Year One on “The Chew.” My co-host, Michael Simon, had eaten the fourteenth salad that I’d made that year. It had, no joke, thirty ingredients. It was like mesclun, romaine, dried cranberries, salted pecans, cream cheese – I don’t even know what – goat cheese. It [had] so many ingredients trying so hard to prove that this was a good salad. At the end of the segment, he said, “If you cut out half the ingredients, it would be a better salad.” I will never forget it.

He’s like a big brother to me. He’s the greatest. I love his food. So much of his food is his grandmother’s recipes, his mother’s. This beautiful blending of his family heritage into food, but it is simple. The writing adage, “If I had time, I would have made it shorter.” If I knew more, I would have done less. That is always something I’m thinking about when my mind wants to add the thirtieth ingredient.

Planning for Social Media Success

Kirk Bachmann: Oh my gosh, the TikTok reels are just adding up here. I love it. We’ll get into the social media piece in just a minute.

I’m just curious for the listeners: to curate a reel that you’re happy with. Ballpark: are some a few minutes? Are some endless?

Daphne Oz: Are we talking editing time or we’re talking actual filming?

Kirk Bachmann: I’m talking about even thinking about it. I’m thinking about this, and then I’ve got to get organized. I’ve got to mise en place. Then I’ve got to make it happen. Is it a week? Is it a day?

Daphne Oz: No. When I am functioning optimally, I will sit down and ideate the recipe ideas for [around] eight recipes at a time. Then I’ll cook them, and I’ll send them to my recipe tester, and she’ll make them. We’ll come up with the recipes. Then I usually set aside at least one full day, sometimes two full days, of filming during the week when I will Instacart all my ingredients unless I have time to go to the store ahead of time. We’re shooting as long as I have light in my kitchen for both of those days. Then throughout the rest of the week, it’s the editing process and the curation and all the other business endeavors that I do. I would say every reel takes-

Look, the other thing is a lot of my reels happen on the fly. A lot of my reels are me going to my fridge and seeing what I have leftover and trying. I’m doing a stuffed pepper boat that’s a buffalo chicken. I took a rotisserie chicken, tossed it together with buffalo and Monterey Jack, and probably a little cream cheese in there, too, scallions, etc. Layering up the flavor. Then stuffing them into bell peppers that I had that were going bad. It’s really getting artful with what I have in my fridge. That I don’t have a written recipe for; I’m just creating as I go. So [many] simple recipes – salads, roast meats, braises, things like that – I’m doing just that way. Baking, for sure, I’ve tested the recipe. I’m not trying to do things on the fly that I know require more finesse.

I guess the short answer is the range of time could be it takes an hour. It could be it takes an hour to film and then four hours to edit. It could be it takes fifteen minutes over three days to film.

I think back to our original point: part of what makes one brand or one personality interesting, I think, and different than the way we used to do things on television where you had to stay in your lane, is getting to explore different verticals with people. Yes, food is where people come to me, and that’s what they know me for, but then once they are bought in on some of the recipes and they like the way that I teach, and they like how confident they feel when they watch my content, then they’re going to watch my makeup tutorial. Or they might watch my day with my kids. Or they might watch, “This is how I spent my Saturday morning so I felt a little less scattered.”

I think because of that dynamism in the content, some things I make happen much more quickly, and then the long-form video that I do. I’ve put up, I think, 150 half-hour videos of cooking classes, old-school Food Network cooking shows, essentially. Those can take four hours to film and twenty hours to edit. You definitely pay the piper one way or the other.

Make Mistakes, Have Fun

Kirk Bachmann: I appreciate that. I guess the lesson for me, too, and for students who watch is that you’ve got to put the work in. I wrote down the word “trust.” There’s a level of trust that develops after a long time. You may go into your fridge, grab the peppers that look a little suspect (as my son likes to say) and then figure out what that’s going to be, but you’ve earned the right to do that. That’s what my students need to understand. That’s what any cook needs to understand. You need to know the fundamentals, the techniques 0- going back to the whole French thing – before you can just open up that fridge. Because it could be a disaster if you didn’t trust yourself.

Daphne Oz: Very much so. Look, I think for anyone who loves to cook and is committed to becoming a great cook, there are mistakes along the way. You will never add sour cream to a hot pan on the flame ever again after you see the way it breaks your sauce! I think that those are very teachable learning moments. I encourage readers of my cookbooks or people who follow along to learn when I make mistakes. All the time!

I can’t tell you the number of times I have walked away from an oven where I am toasting nuts, and I will say on camera, “Do not walk away from your oven because you will forget about your nuts, and then you will remember when the smell is just this-

Kirk Bachmann: I forgot about my nuts.

Daphne Oz: For adults, it is so few and far between, the places where you can genuinely just get loose, have fun, make a mess, try something new, and the worst thing that happens is you order pizza. I wouldn’t be afraid of those mistakes. Obviously, your audience is different, professional grade cooks. But I think you learn as much from those [mistakes].

And you innovate around them, too. There have been a lot of recipes of mine that have had to change because of a mistake that was made or an error that happened, and I liked the change even better. You live and you learn. Definitely.

Health and Pleasure in Every Bite

Kirk Bachmann: Always learning.

We’ve got a lot of really cool accomplishments to talk about. Honestly, Daphne, I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t touch on some of the earlier years that led into your amazing career. Princeton University, the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. You received a culinary degree from the Natural Gourmet Institute. It seems like – and I love this – that nutrition has always been a part of your DNA. It’s a passion of yours. I’m just really curious when that came to be. You said earlier that you were at your grandmother’s and mother’s elbows, which I love. Totally stealing that. When did nutrition become really important to you?

Daphne Oz: It’s interesting. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I would say nourishment has always been big for me. I’m getting so much more – yes, the food and its flavor and how wonderful that experience is sticks with me – but food is also how I bonded with my family. It was how we formed that connection. It was how I got to learn our family history and our heritage. It was the gossip in the kitchen. It was the emotional fodder that really drew me in.

I think most of the men in my family are doctors. My dad’s a heart surgeon. My grandpa’s a heart surgeon. My other grandpa’s a lung surgeon. My uncle’s a neurosurgeon. I have one uncle who’s a lawyer; everybody else went medical. And then my grandmother and my mother are deeply into nutrition, complimentary care, and holistic medicine. I was lucky to grow up in this interesting nexus of caring for yourself in Eastern and Western modalities. I actually flirted with the idea of going to medical school myself.

It really was through the process of being the overweight kid in a family full of health nuts that taught me that my love of food was really about that emotional connection we just described. I had to figure out how to keep my love of food and keep my love of the connection that food brings, but do it in a way that keeps me really healthy, and lets me run at and try to accomplish all the goals I have for myself.

I had this epiphany when I entered college my freshman year. This was the first time I was really on my own, and that freedom and responsibility could actually be a blessing. I actually created this healthy lifestyle plan that I wrote about in my first book, which was called “The Dorm Room Diet.” That was – I know. When I put that book out, they were like, “You mean gaining fifteen pounds at a kegger party? What are we talking about?” But it was a fascinating exercise in learning how to take something that was going to be my cross to bear, that I thought was going to be this pain point for me of struggling with my weight and struggling with my health, and turning it on its head and making it the lens through which I was able to filter a lot of information that I’d been gathering for myself, make it really accessible to an audience that had not been spoken to directly – teenagers and young adults – give it to them in a way that they could genuinely understand and apply in their own lives, show them how I’d done it my own life, which is why I was a credible person in this capacity. I’d also done quite a bit of research with actual nutritionists and people in the field. That became such a cathartic experience that allowed me to take something that had been hard for me and make it something that gave me value and made me feel like I could do something good with that experience.

I think nutrition-wise, food is fuel. Absolutely. You are what you eat. After genetics – we don’t have to go down the science path of it – but you literally turn on and off different cells based on what you’re putting in your body. If we learn something from the Europeans also, it’s also the feelings you have about food. it’s the feelings you have when you’re sharing a meal. That changes your life, too. I think my goal is to have health and pleasure in every bite.

The TV Audition Process

Kirk Bachmann: Well, well said. With that as a backdrop and what you started to engage in when you got into college, what type, Daphne, of career did you initially envision yourself getting into? Like you said, you come from a family of professionals, doctors, lawyers. How hard was it to pull away from that and go with your heart, with what you wanted to do? Was there pressure on you?

And kind of a related question: we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk a little bit about your dad, Dr. Oz, and your mother influenced where you went. I imagine – I’m going to imagine [them as] super-supportive in whatever Daphne wanted to do. This is where our students and children often come to a crossroads, too. I have influence on what I’d like them to do – left-handed pitcher for the Chicago Cubs in ten years – but I have to be very careful. You said it earlier at the beginning of the show, and I loved it. You’ve discovered that your children are who they are. They are all unique and very special in their own way. And you were, too.

Loaded question, a fun question. Just really curious. What were you going to do, and what pulled you to get to where you are with all the success?

Daphne Oz: I love that you have a left-handed pitcher. My brother is left-handed, and I think my dad is proudest moment that he could whip this left-handed shot.

Kirk Bachmann: That ball was in his hand when he was two minutes old.

Daphne Oz: It’s such an unfair advantage, it’s amazing. My brother and I actually are thirteen years apart, but we’re very, very similar people. We just played in a tennis tournament together where his left-handed serve, I think, is the reason we won. It just changes course.

Kirk Bachmann: It’s rare! It’s rare.

Daphne Oz: Very rare.

Okay. I had a very funny, weird pivot. I actually took Turkish as my language in college and had vague aspirations of joining the CIA – not the Culinary Institute of America, the other CIA.

Kirk Bachmann: The other CIA.

Daphne Oz: The other CIA. Didn’t get that letter. I don’t think I actually, in the end, knew. There was all this lore. “They’re going to come tap your shoulder.” Never happened. For such good reasons. I’m a terrible liar. It would have been a really dreadful career path for me.

What I knew loved was culture and the way that culture informs – culture is informed by history, how it informs the way people live. I loved cooking. I loved eating, and I loved the idea that, as opposed to becoming a doctor, I could help people feel in control of their health on a much more daily and accessible level by helping them figure out what to eat and making it taste really good.

I actually left college and became a story coordinator at “Inside Edition.” I learned a lot there about television production, what that looks like, and how hard the entire team works putting out a show. One thing that I don’t think I really appreciated at the time that was an important lesson to learn – you sort of touched on it with the editing question. I am a bit of a perfectionist. I have editors who help me, but I always feel the need to go in and make my own little tweaks and make it my own. It takes hours, and hours, and hours to do that. You cap your own capacity when you need to have your fingers in every pie, essentially. One thing that I am definitely improved by having had the experience of “Inside Edition” is the show has to happen. Every day at three, that show was going on the air come hell or high water. You have to get really comfortable that “Done is better than perfect.”

In any case, I really enjoyed that part of my career and knew that it wasn’t where I wanted to end my career. Thought about going back to medical school, enrolled at Columbia and premedical post-bacc. Got engaged. Got married, and got the audition for “The Chew” the week between my wedding and my honeymoon.

Kirk Bachmann: No. Wow!

Daphne Oz: Yep. Then spent a year auditioning for “The Chew,” which was a wild experience because it felt like everybody who had ever touched a piece of food was trying out for the show. We would come, and we’d do these round tables. They’d throw out, “Sauerkraut: love it or hate it?” You’d have to have a full – you can’t even make this up! It was so crazy! You’d have to have a full-blown conversation about sauerkraut. I’m sure they were observing all kinds of different dynamics at play.

After a year of a lot of the hurry-up-and-wait game – I know we’re going to chat a little bit about television, but media in general is hurry-up-and-wait. That is just the way of the world. For a year. They had so many different cast ensembles, and they had so many different versions of the show. Finally, we got the green light, and we launched on ABC in September of 2011, and the rest is history. Really wild times.

Share What You Love Confidently

Kirk Bachmann: Kind of related, obviously, we have certain graduates who might not- they love cooking, but they might not be interested in that traditional path of a traditional chef, if you will, in the kitchen, behind the line. All of that. This is not to discount the years of work that you’re being polite about. The sleepless nights and talking about sauerkraut. Becoming a TV host, just becoming someone that others listen to, that you impact on a daily basis. Starting a food career in food media or any kind of media, are there some hints or certain amounts of experience that should be on the resume? Not to give all the secrets away, but what would you say if you had a group of students in front of you?

Daphne Oz: If I had secrets to give away, I would give them. It’s funny. You mentioned the sleepless nights and the anxiousness that I glossed over. The crazy part about doing media when I started back when I graduated college in 2008. When I started with “The Chew” in 2011, the avenues to do something like that were few and far between. To your point, that year that we spent figuring out if we were doing this or not, I either had the best job in the world or no job at all. It was a very binary outcome of figuring out whether that show was going to launch.

I think what’s beautiful now for anybody who feels they have something worthwhile to share in any category, but certainly food, the avenues are so plentiful now. The single greatest thing you can do if you want to be on TV or you want to share content around food is make content around food. The more time you spend in front of the camera getting comfortable, having your little mannerisms and the way you look on camera. Even that. People are stunned to see themselves on camera. They don’t know what to do with that. The more time you spend and the more time you cultivate your own personal voice around a certain subject, and the more you get comfortable being valued in that way, I think the better off you are.

I talk a lot about confidence, and I think it’s something that people believe is a destination that you arrive at. “Oh, now you’re confident.” It’s not that. It’s that you’re constantly working. You’re constantly honing. You’re constantly reaffirming, “This is what I’m good at. This is what I could be better at. This is how I’m working towards it. These are the steps I took, and look at the progress I’ve made.” I think that, certainly, if you’re interested in trying to do more on social media, the number one thing is to do more on social media. I promise you: that 10,000-hour rule, it applies here, too. You’re probably going to suck the first few times unless you’re one of the blessed few. Then, by all means, enter the fray.

Kirk Bachmann: It’s so interesting when you’re talking. I have a little 11-year-old daughter, Grayson. She is obsessed with gymnastics. Just this morning when I dropped her off at school, I said, “What are you going to do at gymnastics tonight?” She said, “The same thing. We always do the same thing.” I had that conversation with her. “Yeah, gymnastics has four routines, and you have to get better and better and better every single time.”

It’s the same with this. It’s really good advice because even the students that come into the kitchen, the first time they make a souffle or a petit gateau or something, they are so disappointed unless it’s camera-worthy. I spend so much time just making students feel great about what they have prepared. If I walk into the kitchen with my camera, I’ll hurt feelings if I don’t take pictures of everyone’s dish. Practice makes perfect. You talked a little bit about “The Chew” and how long that took, and the worry there must have been. Like you said, you either had a job or you didn’t have a job.

Speaking of television, specifically Season Nine of MasterChef Junior is about to debut, March 4. It’s perfect timing for our chat. I wanted to talk a little bit about that for our listeners who don’t know, MasterChef Junior follows young home cooks ages eight to thirteen-ish who compete in a series of challenges to win the title. And a lot of money: $100,000, a trophy, all of that. They’re probably more excited about the trophy, but a lot of money. I’m just curious: what is it like to judge – and I’m going to go out on a limb – future chefs or just future great cooks who will never forget this experience in their entire lives? What’s that like? Because you’re going to hurt some feelings just like I will when I go in the kitchen and I don’t catch everyone on film. This is big. This is on television, not my little pastry kitchen.

Working with Kids on TV

Daphne Oz: It’s all big. What you just said is really the most important thing to keep in mind, which is for these kids, this is the biggest deal. This is the thing that they have in their life where they feel like they are showing themselves, and they are leaning into what they know, and they are putting themselves out there. We show them a deep respect by giving them real feedback because we acknowledge this is real. You’re really competing. You’re not out here just laying it up for us. This is really hard work, and you’re making great strides, and you’re giving us your best effort. We know that you are capable. If you want to get to the next level, here’s what you need to know to do that.

I think with that as the intention behind the feedback that we’re giving, good or bad. It’s funny; I think people who watch the show sometimes think, “Oh my gosh! You’re cutting an eight-year-old.” It is awful. I cry every show, and I am an Aquarius, like we discussed. I’m not even deeply emotional, on-the-surface person, and I really can’t help myself. My kids are exactly these kids’ ages. The entire time I’m thinking about what would my son or my daughter be doing in this kind of high-stress, high-intensity, Gordon Ramsay, Aaron Sanchez, myself, Tilly Ramsay. The crew is so amazing at really propping these kids up, but they are in the gauntlet. I think because of that, I feel so personally attached to them, and I want them to reach that excellence that I know that they have in them.

So the conversations are always constructive. Always, “Here’s where you nailed it. Here’s where you didn’t. Here’s the mistake that I’ve made in the past, and here’s my recovery moment. Try that next time.” Look, it’s a competition, and I actually think it’s wonderful for kids to compete at high stakes and high levels, and clearly you have athletically gifted excellent children. But going through that first gut-punch awful, “Oh I’ve been cut!” or “I didn’t do as well as I knew I could.” All the frustration that goes hand in hand with that – and you live through it and you realize that you’re fine and you’re going to try again in a different way. Having that strength, that resilience built into them from an early age is so powerful.

On top of that, these kids are not professional cooks yet, obviously. They’re eight to thirteen years old. Sometimes I find when you’re judging adults, there’s a little bit more of the ego attached. There is a little bit more of the marriage of, “I’ve spent years training for this. I know what I’m doing.” They don’t want to hear a lot of, “Maybe try this next time.” Sometimes. I’m generalizing. When I’ve had less positive experiences, it’s actually with adults, not with kids.

The kids are sponges. They’re so eager to learn. They’re so ripe. “Help me.” They’re comfortable asking for that help. I think that creativity that comes with not actually being formally trained yet is part of the other feature of the show that you can’t capture anywhere else. It is only by having really accomplished, really cool kids who love eating, love food, love experimenting showing us their chops that you get to have such a novel take on the dish.

Gordon and Tilly

Kirk Bachmann: The other day this week, we had about thirty-five to forty middle school kids. Every once in a while, they like to come visit the school and talk to the chefs. You mentioned Gordon Ramsay. One of the first questions we got when we had a round table was, “What do you think Gordon Ramsay is really like?” So are you at liberty to say what it’s like to work with he and his daughter?

Daphne Oz: Sure! It’s the best. Literally, it’s so funny, actually. Gordon has lots of shows, a ridiculous number of shows. Some of them showcase his incredibly exacting and precise, surgical approach to cooking. I really understand that and gravitate toward that because it reminds me so much of my dad. There’s just a demand for excellence that is why he is the incredible chef and the personality that he is.

But what I love about this show and what I got Day One of meeting him is, Gordon is first and foremost a family man. He has six children. He is so doting and loving and affectionate with his own kids, but also with the kids [on the show]. When you watch, he’s the first guy to get out there and make a crazy, high-energy, spectacular theatrics thing happen with the kids who are our contestants, gets them comfortable, makes them realize this if for fun. Come and have a great time, give us your best. Then, when he gives them feedback, some of which can be harsh, it’s always with this incredible, again, respect of how much they know and how far they’ve come.

I think one of the greatest testaments to how awesome he is is his daughter, Tilly, who is a judge on the show this season. First of all, she is so young. She’s like 21 or 22 years old. She actually has competed on MasterChef herself in Australia. She comes in and she’s confident and cool, and such a nice big-sister element on the show for our contestants. She and her dad have the most hilarious banter, and no one can give it to Gordon like she does. I think it’s a new side to him. It makes so much sense. When you see how playful and fun that he is, and you realize that his energy is unstoppable. Sometimes it’s to be precise and focused and get your culinary skills on track, and sometimes it’s just to make sure they have the best memories of their lives. You see that come to life on MasterChef Junior all the time.

Kirk Bachmann: I love the playful. As a chef, as a cook, as someone who is really passionate about a younger generation learning how to cook, I will say this. Some of the old Gordon Ramsay stuff where he is in his kitchen and – you talk about precision. Let’s say he’s searing a steak. There are no buts about it: that cast iron skillet goes down, heat, fat, steak. That’s the way I like to learn. I don’t need a lot of fluff. In fact I have to give him a little plug. He does a broccoli soup, which is the greatest. We teach it here. It’s literally broccoli that is boiled to the right degree, into the blender with some of the liquid that usually gets thrown away, a little bit of seasoning, and that’s it. Into the Vitamix, and it’s done. Then we garnish it with whatever. I saw this on social media or on the website ten years ago, and we’re still teaching Gordon Ramsay’s broccoli soup because it’s nothing. It is broccoli. There’s no cream. There’s no butter. There’s no soy. There’s nothing but broccoli. People love it. I’ll send you the link.

Daphne Oz: Yes, please. I’d love to see it.

Managing the Content Creation

Kirk Bachmann: It’s just brilliant. It’s brilliant.

Let’s get back to you. Let’s pivot slightly. If we could talk a little bit about building your personal brand. I mentioned at the top, your social media content, Daphne, is so consistent. Like your website: everything from style, tone, overall branding. We pay attention to it at Escoffier as well. Branding is very important to Noelle and all the marketing folks. Then I visit your site, DaphneOz.com. It’s seamless, easy to navigate. “Nourish. Style. Life. Pure gold.” You can blush. I want you to feel super great about this. We teach several courses on marketing, content development, in our food entrepreneurship programs. It’s another path for students who don’t want to do culinary arts or pastry arts or plant-based, or nutrition, or hospitality. Food entrepreneurship: how to create your own brand. I’m sure you could do a master class just on that.

I’m curious. You touched on this a little bit earlier. How do you map out your weekly social media content? There’s one thing, executing and doing it, but do you get help? This is what it’s going to look like for the next six months, for the next year, for the next two years, or seasonally. It just seems like a lot to think about. It’s exciting, but I wonder if you could share a little behind the scenes of how you manage that.

Daphne Oz: For sure. Look, I think anyone who does content creation full-time, the greatest leg-up you can give yourself is feeling some support, some structure. Understanding what’s coming down the pike, how are these things building on each other? Am I telling a story? Am I doing a content arc? Or am I doing it fast and loose? My personal experience has been that I need a bit of both.

When I get too “I’ve got to get this specific content. I need this to go up.” We do a lot of sponsored content, so we have those as pillars within the month. Then I try to make sure at least every month, every other month, I have an interesting arc of content coming out in the culinary space.

For instance in February, Valentine’s Day, obviously, so I have content coming out about setting the table and how I’m making the meal come together. Every year, I do a red and pink-themed feast for my kids, which is what my mother did for me. I had the whole menu of that. I had the recipe videos for each of those elements. All of that has to go out over the course of February in time for the holiday. That was planned in advance and shot in advance. We’re editing it now, and it will go up in the next week or so.

Then, bucketed within those pillars that I know I’m going to get, to really position the content the way that I want it done, and to also give myself the breathing room of “This is done. This is ready to go. I don’t feel stressed about it.” Then, it frees me up and makes me happy and excited to create content in the moment that feels more loose and raw. More, “this happened today. This is the outfit that I wore today. This is the fun itinerary I’m planning for a trip I’m taking. Come along with me.” I think I, personally, have to have some structure in order to get creative and loose in the gaps in between.

But for the most part, we’re planning a month out. I think longer than a month out, the only time I’ll ever do that is towards the end of spring when we’re heading into summer when sometimes travel schedules, etc., make it hard to be in my kitchen and filming the content that I know I want to have up. I might bulk batch a bit more then, but I never want to get too far out from the timing because things change. Your attitude changes. What you want changes. If I have too much stuff banked and I don’t get to use it, then I feel like, “Ugh. This is wasted effort.”

Kirk Bachmann: Perfect.

What’s your take on brand partnerships?

Daphne Oz: I love them. Look, it’s super cool when you cultivate a relationship that I’ve tried to do with my audience since getting on social media. I don’t share things that I don’t genuinely love. I don’t share them whether I’m paid to talk about them or not. I’m really selective about who I align with. It’s a whole ecosystem. Everything has to be filled with honesty and integrity. Everything has to be value-added. I’m not going to tell you to buy something that I think just will feel like junk in your house. I want you to have something you’re going to use all the time, or that when you use it it is going to make you feel so confident or so beautiful or so excited and happy about this moment.

Because of that, now I’m at a place where I can say no to things and I can say yes to things. I think that is because I made good decisions early on. The partnership question is really [to] make sure you’re always thinking, first and foremost, “What’s my audience going to make of this and does it align with the way I want them to feel about me and the way they feel when they come to my page, when they come to my channel?” Because I think that’s the way you grow something that is really long lasting.

Be Pistachio

Kirk Bachmann: I love how genuine that is. Super transparent and true. True to yourself.

Is there anything that you’re thinking about for 2024 that’s different? We spend a lot of time. Where I’m going with that, I’m really curious which social media platform you like to focus on the most. We’re really exploring a lot in our educational arena the concept of AI and how AI can help us, help students learn. Now, a teacher will almost immediately put up their guards. “Oh, people are going to cheat!” I come at it from a completely different perspective, where AI can help you learn.

I’m curious with society changing so quickly. Is Instagram the best place to be? But TikTok, all my students tell me they love TikTok. I’m just curious how you feel about it.

Daphne Oz: You just said the opportune word, which is your students tell you they love TikTok. TikTok is about learning. I do think Instagram is leaning harder into that. It’s interesting: you can sort of see how it plays out. It used to be that [on] Instagram, you got the content from the people you followed. You had to opt in, you followed people, and then you saw their content.

TikTok, it was never about the follow; it was about the discovery. You’re being shown people you don’t follow all the time. You may find people who you learn a ton from and you love it, but you don’t follow them. It’s a very different ecosystem. I think they’re both trying to cannibalize from each other, which is fascinating.

A lot of my content goes back and forth. I very rarely create something specifically for TikTok or specifically – I’ll usually make it specifically for Instagram and then re-purpose it for TikTok. Honestly, just hours in the day. What I do for social media, which involves a lot of pre-planning and organizations and structure around that, I’ve got my family and all the managerial [skills] that go hand-in-hand with that. I do quite a bit in the entrepreneur space. At a certain point, going back to an early point in our conversation about “done is better than perfect,” if I had more time, I would love it. Certainly, there are editing choices and better production and all kinds of things that I could be doing differently to make it more TikTok-friendly, but what I’ve found personally is that the people who found me on TikTok like it for the same reason that the people who get me on Instagram like what they get.

And I’m not for everyone. I think that’s something else, too. You didn’t ask this question, but I’ll tell it because I do think your students are interested in social media. It’s something you have to get really comfortable with really fast. When I started at “The Chew,” I was 24 years old, and I was a complete novice on television. The only experience I’d had was doing the book tour for “Dorm Room Diet.” I was seated alongside these incredible veterans of television, of culinary arts, etc. It was at the dawn of social media. You better believe I heard every day – not to cast shame on the people saying these things – from people I would not normally take advice from. Horrible things all the time. How I looked. How I cooked. What I said. Whether I was qualified. Nonstop. It took a long [time], probably a year of this, maybe longer, of me trying to be what I thought they wanted me to be, changing this, changing that. Then realizing, finally – maybe longer than a year, feels like a long time ago now – that I got really comfortable with being exactly who I was and “firing” a certain portion of my audience, or of the general audience in order to find the people that really resonated with what I wanted to offer.

I think that is the hardest thing. At first, you’re like, “Everybody come! I’ll be everything!” I just can’t stress enough; that is a failing strategy because if you’re vanilla and everybody likes you, nobody loves you. Nobody is like, “You’re my girl!” I really think that’s important. It will make you happier. It will make you so much happier and feel more freedom and more creativity, and more ability to lean into exactly who you are and what you offer, which will make you more long-lasting and make you feel the flexibility that you need to feel to not get trapped in a cycle of repetition. And it will make your audience happier because they’ll know they’re getting something real from you, and they’ll know they’re getting something authentic that they can’t get anywhere else. My goal for you is to be pistachio.

Appreciating the Moments

Kirk Bachmann: I have learned so much today already. There’s a reason your audience loves you. It’s so authentic. We haven’t even talked about the book yet.

A quick question. How do you balance all this? It’s a rhetorical question. This is a lot. You’re thinking, you’re courteous about your fans. You’ve got this big family at home, keeping the household. A husband. Who knows what else. The big family and all of that. How do you balance that? I mean that sincerely. Some people get so hung up, so stressed out. Is exercise a big thing for you? I’ve seen that on your feed. You’ve said it that you like to exercise every day.

Daphne Oz: I’m no gym bunny. I wish I loved exercise more than I do. I don’t. But what I love is the feeling that I get afterwards. It’s actually amazing how much some kind of movement, some kind of getting out of your head and into your body, getting that lymph and that blood flow going. Breathing fresh air. I live in Florida so we’re outside a lot of the time, which is a big reset for me also. It makes a world of difference to how effective and productive I feel throughout my day, how good and limber and comfortable I feel. Certainly, that’s a big part of my mental balancing act.

But something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently because this is a question we all have. We all look around at what everyone else is doing and we’re like, “How do you do all these things with the same 24 hours I have?” I’ve really been trying to lean. This is something that earlier, when I first became a mom, I was really stressed out that when I was with my baby, I was missing career opportunities. When I was working hard, I was missing critical moments with her. I felt like I was robbing my own joy all the time because you’re just feeling that constant, comparative tug. The older I’ve gotten and the more children I’ve had and the more obligations I’ve had, the more I’ve gotten comfortable with saying no to the things that I truly can’t do as well as I’d want to do them. If I know I can’t give a hundred percent, I’m just going to not be able to do it.

It’s also getting more aligned with the choices that I am making and feeling more comfortable living in that. Not wishing I was doing it differently. Not thinking “I should have done it this, that, and the other way.” Really appreciating the moment. Then the balance is just the present. Right now, I’m deep in motherhood. I’m running all around, taking the kids to all their activities. I’m planning this birthday party. I’m doing all this stuff. Tomorrow, if I’m on calls back-to-back all day and in that realm of my mind, I’m not second-guessing that that’s the wrong choice. I think that has definitely given me a bit more equanimity, which is not something that comes naturally to me. But balance is a farce. Realistically, you swing. You’re a pendulum. Like everybody, you swing back and forth, and you get it done where you can, and sometimes you don’t get it done.

Kirk Bachmann: You know, it’s so funny. I told you at the beginning at the show of how many people I’ve told. I just got a text from my long-time director of career services. Her name is Kate. She’s a former Miss Wisconsin. She’s an amazing human being. She just texted and said, “Isn’t today the day you talk to Daphne? Say hi!” So I’m saying, “Hi” from Kate to Daphne because she’s a big fan. “Always have been a fan,” she says.

Daphne Oz: Thank you so much.

The Guinea Pig for Her Cookbooks

Kirk Bachmann: I love it.

Your latest cookbook, “Eat Your Heart Out,” I talked about it just a bit at the beginning. “150 simply delicious recipes.” We found this quote from Pioneer Woman. I quote, “A beautiful, sweet, and lovely book that would make a great gift for anyone, especially high school and college graduates and soon-to-be brides. Daphne’s advice and perspective are rooted in openness, kindness, and an underlying desire to find happiness and fun in all areas of her life.” What a beautiful quote. What a beautiful thing to say.

Daphne Oz: She’s the sweetest. Ree is the best.

Kirk Bachmann: I have to ask: what is your source of inspiration? I’ve had other guests that have written books. Inspiration comes from everywhere. I have to ask. Is it – I’m going to answer it for you. Is it to make other people happy?

Daphne Oz: In writing cookbooks?

Kirk Bachmann: In writing cookbooks.

Daphne Oz: I would never claim to be able to control your happiness.

Kirk Bachmann: Oh, my wife would say that! Brilliant.

Daphne Oz: I can’t wave that want. It’s funny. The quote you read from Ree Drummond, actually, she’d written about my book “Relish” which was “an adventure in food, life, and everyday fun.” My first book was “The Dorm Room Diet,” which was about my journey losing weight that I felt I was carrying around that I didn’t want to anymore, but doing it in a way that created a lifestyle that was fun, and that I could live college comfortably in the way I wanted to and still live my healthy life the way I wanted to.

Then I wrote a book, “Relish,” that was basically me and my girlfriends leaving college, moving to the city. For each of us, feeling like there was some part of our lives where we were living a placeholder life. We were treading water waiting for real life to begin. My discovery was that by making little changes and little steps forward in different areas, whether it was your career, your cooking, your fashion choices, the way you felt about yourself, it was a bit of everything. I think that is what Ree was hinting at. It was a great book for people beginning their lives and wanting to get a little bit better at a lot of things. To lay the foundation for the life they wanted down the line.

Then I wrote a book called “The Happy Cook,” which I wrote. I was pregnant with my second or my third when I was writing that book. It was really about, “Look, I’m a person who loves to cook. I love to eat, but my life is crazy right now. Here are the recipes that make me feel joyful when I get in the kitchen so I want to be there.”

My most recent book is called, “Eat Your Heart Out.” That is 150 recipes free from gluten and free from refined sugar. It was really about when I do resets in my life, whether because I’d been celebrating too much or too stressed out, or I’ve had a baby and I’m trying to drop weight, but I’m trying to do it from the perspective of someone who loves to eat and lives for a good time around a great meal, I didn’t want to feel like the food I had to eat was bland and flavorless, which I think a lot of healthful eating sometimes comes out to be. This was about making healthful food celebratory.

The reason I tell you about all four is the theme has always been: I’m the guinea pig. I will try all the things. I will experiment. I will do these things in my own life. Only the crème de la crème, the stuff that rises to the top, am I going to bother to put in book form for you to take home and try to use what’s valuable to you. Whether that ends up making them happy or not, I hope so, but it really is about capturing those different [stages], the evolution through my life of how I’ve handled food, how it’s been important to me, and how I’ve made time for the fun of cooking and the fun of being in the kitchen that I love so much with different agendas in mind each time.

Daphne Oz’s Ultimate Dish

Kirk Bachmann: So well said. So well said.

We’re getting towards the end. I know you’re ready for this. The Ultimate Dish. Before, I have to remind everybody, don’t forget to catch Daphne on the new season of MasterChef Junior on Fox. Here you go. I know you’ve prepared for this. Let me at least say it. Daphne, what is the ultimate dish?

Daphne Oz: The ultimate dish, Kirk, is hot, hot sparkling fried seafood fresh from the sea and a crisp glass of ice-cold white wine eaten by the ocean that it came from. That is the ultimate dish.

Kirk Bachmann: I’m not just saying this because it’s you. I have chills running up and down. It’s simple. It’s simple. I think you’re the first person that has paired your ultimate dish with the appropriate beverage. I literally could see it, envision it, almost taste it when you shared it. Absolutely perfect.

Daphne Oz: It’s all in the production. When it’s hot out of the oil, make sure it’s hot.

Kirk Bachmann: Oh my Lord! What’s your go-to fish that you like to cook?

Daphne Oz: In that fritto misto preparation that I’m referencing, there has to be shrimp. There has to be some calamari. There have to be lemon wheels thinly sliced. I’d like a fried squash blossom in there, please and thank you. That’s all I ask for, you know.

Kirk Bachmann: My good friend Chef Farmer Lee Jones at the Chef’s Garden in Ohio has the best squash blossoms in the world. If you’re ready, I’ll connect you.

Daphne Oz: Please.

Kirk Bachmann: Unbelievable. 300 acres of just beautiful produce. We were just talking about squash blossoms last night.

Gosh. I don’t know where this hour went. I was so excited to chat with you. You delivered. You’re beautiful. You’re intentional. You’re kind, and you’re happy, and I’m just so glad that you spent some time with us. I’m such a fan. Such a fan.

Daphne Oz: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you for giving me some space to spend time with you. It was really fun. I really appreciate it.

Kirk Bachmann: Thank you so much.

And thank you for listening to the Ultimate Dish podcast, brought to you by Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. Visit escoffier.edu/podcast, where you’ll find any materials mentioned during the podcast, including notes, links and other resources. And if you can, please leave us a rating on Apple or Spotify, and subscribe to support our show. This helps us to reach more aspiring individuals ready to take the next step toward their dream careers. Thanks for listening.

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