Table Chat: Daphne Oz
Daphne Oz shares her healthy eating tips and recipes in her cookbooks. (Photo: Submitted photo)
As a college student, she dropped 40 pounds and then wrote about what worked for her in “The Dorm Room Diet” (2006). Moving on to the next stages of her life, she immersed herself in the kitchen for two more cookbooks: “Relish” (2013) and “The Happy Cook” (2016). As a co-host on “The Chew” from 2011 to 2017 she rubbed elbows with some of the best chefs and health experts in the world.
Now she’s a married mom of three and expecting baby No. 4. Her life revolves around food and wellness in a different way, and she’s found that resonates with others.
On May 1 Oz will bring her message and recipes to Kohler as one of the featured speakers at the inaugural Kohler Well-Being Mind & Body Experience. The event continues through May 5 with additional programming, including sessions led by celebrity trainer Anna Kaiser, plus Tracy Roemer and Bonnie Micheli, co-founders of Shred 415; Ariana Chernin and Jillian Lorenz, co-founders of The Barre Code; and Amy Keifer and Krystal Howald, owners of Expecting and Empowered.
Question: What are your family food roots? How did you get started cooking?
Answer: My father’s family is Turkish. My mother’s family is Irish, Italian and Swedish. My food roots’ influence is the Mediterranean side.
I’m the oldest of four, and my mom is the oldest of six and I’m at the tail end of her siblings (close in age). I grew up in the kitchen with her cooking massive feasts. I can’t remember a family meal that didn’t have at least 10 people around the table. Food is an amazing way to bond and share history, traditions and recipes.
Q: How did food and cooking become your career? How do you describe your approach?
A: I bring a novel take on the way to balance health into a love of food and a love of eating.
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I’m Dr. Oz’s daughter. The rest of my family is pretty much littered with people who studied nutrition, homeopathy, doctors. I grew up as a very overweight kid.
It was a really interesting and personal way for me to learn that information is only part of the battle. Most of us have access to all the information we could possibly use, but who provides the information and whether that information is provided in a way that is emotionally sticky for you matters.
I went to college at 180 pounds, an 18-year-old looking to get healthy and have a normal life. I wrote a book called “The Dorm Room Diet” that details how I lost 40 pounds over my freshman and sophomore years.
Since then, my books are about giving people practical ways to make health a priority and not an obsession. No one knows how to enjoy healthy eating any more. If it is at all healthy, it is not pleasurable. People know if it is my recipe it will taste good.
Q: How did you find your confidence in the kitchen?
A: People who love to eat should love to cook. It is one of the best ways to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want and you have that control. To me, being in the kitchen is also where I felt the most relaxed and free. How many places as an adult can you make a mess, and try and not be good at it to start, but the worst possible outcome is if it doesn’t work, you order pizza? Cooking offers so much possible reward.
I’d been on “The Chew” for a few years, cooking next to premier chefs in the country, and I was this totally green wet-behind-the-ears 24-year-old. I wanted to be able to offer healthy eating with more confidence, technique and nuance, so I went back to culinary school my second season. I got my degree at the Natural Gourmet Institute.
Q: Do you have any food rules?
A: The summer before I got married I did this way of eating, no gluten, no sugar. It worked, and I felt great, but since then I have never said no to anything.
I created this two-bite rule at “The Chew,” because we were eating five meals per show! The first bite lets you see what is going on in the dish, savor it, and the second bite lets you enjoy and have that food joy imprinted. After that, they taste the same.
Q: You’re on pregnancy No. 4. Any cravings?
A: The weirdest cravings I had, when I was pregnant with my son, I would want a burger for breakfast. I grew up mostly vegetarian, and I am no longer vegetarian, but a burger is hardly my typical breakfast. I grew up in Jersey, and my biggest craving has always been bagels. I would eat them for every meal every day.
Q: Have you been to Kohler before?
A: My in-laws live just outside Chicago in Niles, so that’s the closest I’ve ever been. I hope there will be some cheese around when I visit, but other than that I’m just excited to go to Kohler.
Q: What’s your current ingredient obsession?
A: Anchovies. I was a really late convert in life, which is saying a lot as an Italian. I thought they were too fishy, too funky.
Now I’ve started adding them to everything. I’ll do a red pesto, pesto rosso, with sun-dried tomatoes, currants and an anchovy, with pine nuts and garlic and olive oil. You make this insane thick red spread. I put it on all my sandwiches. That was inspired by a trip to Italy. I had the most mind-blowing sandwich and it was so simple.
Table Chat features interviews with Wisconsinites, or Wisconsin natives, who work in restaurants or support the restaurant industry; or visiting chefs. To suggest individuals to profile, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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