Daphne Oz, co-host of The Chew, on healthy eating and her father’s influence
By Angela Barbuti
It’s before 10 a.m. and Daphne Oz has already eaten a lamb chop and sipped a mai tai. As one of the hosts on ABC’s The Chew, she spends weekdays in the kitchen, cooking with her co-hosts and contributing her healthy living advice to the new daytime show.
At just 26, Oz, the youngest co-host, describes herself as the show’s “practical tipster.” She joins co-hosts Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Clinton Kelly and Carla Hall to create a palpable chemistry on the set. Oz says she works in a “really free flowing environment where hosts are encouraged to enjoy each other.” Her goal as part of this team of foodies is to be the spokesperson for all of the home cooks who are watching.
“It’s an empowering feeling to be able to cook a meal for yourself and your family,” she said.
With Dr. Mehmet Oz, cardiothoracic surgeon and host of The Dr. Oz Show, as her father, she once considered a life in medicine. However, she said, “To devote your life to that kind of work, you really need to be in the hospital and put in the hours.” She decided that she would not be able to pursue a medical career, raise a family and do both well.
Her father is extremely supportive of her choice. “Every parent wants their child to be happy and fulfilled every day they go to work,” she said.
One of the motivating forces enabling her to wake up at 5:30 each morning is a passion for engaging the younger generation. Having tried “every fad diet under the sun,” Oz knew it was time to make a commitment to healthy eating as a senior in high school.
“People find it fascinating that I could have grown up in the family that I did and still struggled with my weight,” she admitted.
As a junior at Princeton University, she penned The Dorm Room Diet. Published in 2006, it is replete with suggestions for college students on having a healthy and fun relationship with food in their new environment living away from home.
Now Oz makes her “home away from home” on The Chew’s set at ABC Studios on the Upper West Side. In the morning, after she wraps up filming for the show’s 1 p.m. airtime, the fitness enthusiast runs to Soul Cycle and Pure Yoga. After a workout and some grocery shopping, Oz is back at her Manhattan apartment, preparing meals with her husband, John. Although he works in finance, he appreciates trying out the new recipes his wife has found in Bon Appetit magazine.
For fresh produce, the couple shops at the local Garden of Eden and Whole Foods Market. Now that summer is here, she can be found picking fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets throughout the city.
“I literally buy dinner every day on my walk home from work,” she said.
Although her diet is mostly plant-based, she does eat the occasional high-quality meat product. Morally opposed to the way in which animals are treated industrially, she sums up her carnivorous philosophy as “meat for treats.” “For me, it’s about never feeling deprived, especially when I’m surrounded by such wonderful chefs. I want to be able to enjoy their beautiful creations.”
When it’s time for a snack, the epicurean enjoys munching on flatbread crisps dipped in a bean mash. She credits her ethnicity as the reason she favors Mediterranean food. Her father’s family is Turkish, while her mother’s family is Italian, Irish and Swedish.
“I grew up eating a ton of fish. I have memories of going on vacation with my family and catching whole fish and coming home and cooking them,” she said. A dinner menu at her home may consist of Asian-inspired salmon with a soy sauce, maple syrup and sesame oil glaze or branzino stuffed with rosemary, garlic and lemon.
When asked about her plans for the future, Oz responds without hesitation that she is content to keep her current gig as long as possible. Who can blame her? “I’m being paid to play with friends and eat the most delicious food in the world. Every day I pinch myself that this is my job.”
Watch Oz on The Chew weekdays at 1 p.m. on ABC or visit her website at www.daphneoz.com.
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