Cliffside Park native Daphne Oz made an appearance at The Woman’s Club of Ridgewood to sign copies of her new book, The Happy Cook. The September 23rd event, which was co-hosted by Bookends Bookstore, featured refreshments, followed by a meet and greet, and photo session with Daphne. Guests also received a signed copy of the book, and a tote bag courtesy of Bergen Mama.
After chatting with her fans for nearly 2 hours (she graciously stayed much longer than her allotted time slot), I had a chance to sit down with The Chew co-host to to talk about how easy the recipes are in her latest cookbook (I’m the worst cook in the world and even I can make them!), how she’s passing her passion for food down to her children, and I found out what’s inside this beauty’s makeup bag (spoiler alert: it’s totally affordable).
The daughter of Dr. Oz tells me she wanted to take the intimidation out of cooking in her new book, which features 125 easy and healthy timesaving recipes. Even someone like me, who has two left hands in the kitchen, will have no problem whipping up one of her delectable dishes.
Daphne’s best piece of advice for those who don’t know their way around the kitchen, is to start simple with a soup or salad dressing, but she says all her dishes are fool-proof. “There are almost no recipes in here that I would view as being particularly challenging because my point was if I want you to enjoy your time in the kitchen, my whole goal is to give you freedom in your kitchen and the confidence to know what to do with it.”
Daphne says a lot of the recipes have a short ingredient list, and the process to cook them is really quite simple. “I took time to write out every step, and make it very clear, and detailed because it’s so frustrating when you’re reading a recipe, and the writer assumes you know something you don’t. I want you to learn basic techniques that you can then take and riff with whatever’s in your kitchen.”
The 30-year-old’s favorite recipe is her truffle-salt roast chicken. “It sounds super fancy, but it is one of the easiest recipes that’s going to make you feel like a total bada** in the kitchen,” she tells me. “It’s really one of those recipes that the entire family is going to love. You’re going to feel very indulgent having it, but it really is quite a simple preparation.”
This busy mom-of-two, who is happiest when she’s in the kitchen, is able to find time to cook for her family almost every night of the week. “I don’t set unreasonable goals for myself. Maybe I’ll just make one portion of whatever I’m putting out on the table,” she tells me. “For instance I buy a rotisserie chicken and make a delicious mint, garlic, little bit of parsley, lemon-zest, olive oil salt to throw right on top of it, and then it becomes this really elevated meal, but I had to do very little for it.”
Daphne can’t remember a time she wasn’t cooking, and her happiest memories growing up were around the kitchen island. “I love being around food. I love feeling it, tasting it, shopping for it,” she tells me. “You’ve never met someone who loves grocery shopping as much as I do. I think that you can express so much through food.”
She is now passing down that passion to her two children with husband John Jovanovic— 11-month-old Jovan and 2-year-old Philomena. Daphne tells me she bakes with her oldest at least twice a week. “She has her own tiny baby kitchen set up next to mine where she spends all her free time. She loves sitting on the kitchen counter cooking with me or on her little stool. She just loves baking so much.”
Daphne and her family are recent NYC transplants, making the move across the Hudson from Cliffside Park to Murray Hill in 2015. One thing she misses about her home state is the space. She says, “I would love nothing more than a New Jersey pantry like my mom has where it’s like walk in, and it’s like a Cinderella moment.”
When Daphne comes home to visit her family (her parents still live in Cliffside Park) she loves hitting up the Bergen County restaurant scene. She frequents Pier 115 and Beyoglu in Edgewater, her favorite bagels are from mrBagelsworth, and her family has been going to Istanbul Borek & Kebab for years.
And like every true Jersey girl, she loves herself a mall trip. Daphne grew up shopping at The Shops at Riverside and Garden State Plaza. She finds great separates at Marcia’s Attic in Englewood, and likes to splurge every once in awhile at Gito, also in Englewood.
Now I’m sure I can’t be the only one wondering how Daphne always looks so put together and flawless despite her crazy schedule and running around after two young kids. Her secret weapon she tells me is her concealer. She swears by Cle de Peau Beauté. And she loves drugstore mascara! Her current favorite is CoverGirl’s LashBlast.
The Happy Cook is available in stores now. And scroll through for a look inside at The Woman’s Club of Ridgewood event.