Daphne Oz shares how MasterChef Junior inspires all ages to engage with food, interview

Daphne Oz returns to MasterChef Junior. Season 9 brings a diverse group of young culinary talent to the FOX show. Oz believes that young and old will be inspired to get into the kitchen, explore food, and create some meaningful connections around the table.
Daphne Oz returns to MasterChef Junior
Daphne Oz returns to MasterChef Junior / FOX

While families might enjoy a Sunday supper to regroup after a long week, MasterChef Junior Season 9 kicks off Monday nights with creativity, a touch of chaos, and many culinary delights. Returning as a judge, Daphne Oz brings her food knowledge, kind demeanor, and vivacious personality to the FOX culinary competition. The busy Emmy Award winner, cookbook author, businesswoman, and mom sees this culinary competition as more than just another 60 minutes of entertainment. The food and cooking concepts presented on screen invite all ages to have a bigger conversation in and around the kitchen.

During a recent conversation with FoodSided, Oz shared her thoughts on a variety of topics related to MasterChef Season 9. Given that the FOX culinary competition has become a family favorite show, people are drawn to watching it not only for the fun, but for the food concepts presented on screen.

As Oz commented, “it is one of the most incredibly educational and entertaining shows that I have ever seen. You fall in love with the kids and they are incredibly talented. They are fearless in the kitchen. I am someone who loves to cook, eat, and travel through my food. Watching these young cooks thrive in this high stakes, high pressure situations and live up to that challenge is exciting.”

Oz brought up an important point that these young cooks seem to appreciate better than others who are more than double their age. That willingness to make the mistake and learn from that teaching moment is vital. Many adults are afraid of failure, but the error can be the best way to learn, adapt, and grow.

Oz believes, “there are so few places as an adult that you can afford to be a novice, try something new, pick up a new skill, and learn. Cooking is a spot where you are not an expert, but the stakes are low. The worst thing that happens is that you order takeout. The best thing that happens is that you get a source of confidence, a wellspring of being able to nourish and take care of yourself. It is so incredibly powerful.”

Even though adults might not have their heart set on pairing gummy bears with scallops, as seen in the MasterChef Junior Season 9 premiere, everyone has a moment in the kitchen when things go sideways. Oz had a mistake that she still makes her laugh.

“One time I was making olive oil cake and I didn’t realize that I used a flavored olive oil. It was a garlic rosemary with a chocolate chip olive oil cake. I cannot describe how awful the flavor was.”

Still, she moved on and cooked again. The recipe will never wind up in a cookbook, but mistakes do not cause the culinary journey to end. Everyone can have setbacks. It is how people move forward that makes them confident.

That sentiment applies to kids as well. Oz continued to explain, “for kids, it is an incredible confidence boosting skill to understand how to take good care of yourself. It is also a beautiful way that families come together. My love of cooking started as a kid cooking at my mother and grandmother’s elbow. I realized that the kitchen was the heart of our home, where we shared our traditions and culture. I desperately want that for my kids too.”

Oz believes that her tight knit family grew from that time in the kitchen. More importantly, it gave her a lifetime of loving to eat, cook, and have fun with food.

That pure joy in and around food is one of the reasons why MasterChef Junior has become a favorite food television show with young and old. Given that viewers are inspired by the topics and challenges on the show, Oz encourages families to make a moment out of that dinner. Whether it is the weekly Sunday supper or a simple weeknight dinner, any and every time around the table can be special.

In her house, Oz makes a choice to light candles at the table, an idea she received from a friend. She explained that the gesture that “gets everyone to slow down.”  It might not be the romantic ambiance that happened before kids came into the conversation, but it is about setting the intention at the table.

More importantly, Oz has an approach to getting her kids to eat different food choices that might resonate with other parents. She said, “my grandmother always told me, don’t make your kids resist you more than the food.” A profound statement, it is true in its simplicity.

Oz explained, “it teaches them how to moderate their own likes, cravings, and quantities. I find that the more that I expose them to things, the more eager that they are willing to give them a try.”

Overall, these sentiments lean into a bigger conversation about family bonds, confidence, and open lines of communication. One meal may not be a huge game changer, but the consistency of those moments is vital to foster that feeling of connectivity.

As seen in MasterChef Season 9, the fun, connections, and community in the kitchen is great.  From Tilly Ramsay joining Gordon Ramsay and Aaron Sanchez at the judging table to the outrageous moments that have people laughing at the scenes, fun is just as important as flavor in this FOX culinary competition. It is a sentiment that can be applied to any kitchen, not just the food television ones.

What can fans expect from the rest of the season. Although Daphne Oz would not reveal any secrets, she said to make sure to watch the upcoming episode where they head under the sea. Someone might leave with a special souvenir from the journey.

MasterChef Junior Season 9 airs new episodes Monday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX. Episodes can be streamed the next day on Hulu.