The television host, writer and chef has been ready for this moment all her life — but when the opportunity came, Oz had to pull it off in record time.
Oz, who became a best-selling author as a college student with her first book “The Dorm Room Diet,” is known to daytime audiences as one of the original hosts of ABC’s beloved foodie show, “The Chew,” which she departed one year before its final season. More recently, the mother of four has led a weekly cooking segment on her father’s daytime show, “The Dr. Oz Show,” called “The Dish.”
With the news that talkshow host and cardiothoracic surgeon would be pursuing a political career to run as a Republican for a Senate seat in Pennsylvania, his longtime show came to an abrupt end during its season. The timeslot was filled with “The Good Dish,” an expanded version of his daughter’s weekly cooking segment, which had already been airing on his show.
“We’ve been incubating this show for a number of years — and so, we had hoped,” Oz tells Variety in a phone interview, conducted moments after the first episode of “The Good Dish” was taped. Oz was giddy as she walked off set, and expressed gratitude to be able to get the show off the ground so quickly, which resulted in little-to-no holiday break for the crew and production staffers, many of whom came from “The Dr. Oz Show.” (Oz says the team found out in December that the show had been greenlit, roughly one month before its Jan. 17 premiere.)
“It did come together really fast and that’s a testament to the team behind it,” Oz says. “To be able to launch a show with people you genuinely know and love and have worked with for a number of years, it’s unheard of.”
Oz co-hosts the new talk and cooking show with Gail Simmons and Jamika Pessoa, who all starred in the weekly segment that had become popular among “Dr. Oz’s” viewers. “The Good Dish,” which airs five days per week in over 90% of the U.S., was picked up by station groups across the country including Fox, Hearst, Nexstar, Gray and Sinclair, among others.
Oz talked to Variety about “The Good Dish,” why daytime TV is still important in a digital world, why audiences still miss “The Chew,” plus her father leaving TV for politics…
Did you always envision “The Good Dish” as its own show?
That was definitely our hope, pending people liking it, which they really did. We had it on the air well before the pandemic and we were taking it out to sell it as its own show and then the pandemic hit, which obviously put breaks on lots of creative projects, but it’s been continually in discussion for various platforms.
It feels like after the pandemic, with people working remotely and cooking more in their own homes, there would be a heightened audience interest in this type of show.
Never before has there been such an explosion of interest in food and home improvement and lifestyle. You look at TikTok and it’s literally all tips and tricks. I think we’re so perfectly positioned to be able to help viewers wade through — what’s worth spending time on? What’s worth spending money on? What’s going to really materially improve your life?
You brought up TikTok. Nowadays, everyone has a platform and everyone is an “expert.” Why is daytime TV still important in this age of social media?
TV is unique, even with people making the most beautiful high-edit, fast pace content on TikTok and elsewhere. There is something familiar about TV. There is something intimate about TV. You see these people you’re going to see every day, like your family. We’re an hour-long, daily talk show that has breathing room that sometimes you can’t fit into a couple minutes.
Three women together on daytime TV isn’t very common. What makes you all unique hosts for this type of show?
The whole goal of “The Good Dish” is to be your best in the kitchen. Yes, we’re experts in food. Yes, we’ve worked in this business for a long time and know all the tips and tricks chefs have and everything else that we hope to bring to bear as experts, but what we’re really experts at is our real lives as moms, as women, as people just living busy lives.
What else will “The Good Dish” cover, besides food?
I think people’s appetite for cool cooking ideas has just exploded, so to be able to really be responsive to that excitement — not just around food, but this whole category of home improvement, beauty, fashion, lifestyle tips, family dynamics, anything that would help improve your life, uplift you, make you feel good, make you feel like you spent time with girlfriends and just enjoyed yourself, that is the hope for this show. I view “The Good Dish” as having everything that is delicious in daytime.
Drew Barrymore surprised you on the show, and you had Andy Cohen drinking tequila and cooking burgers on your second episode. What other celebrity guests will come on the show?
We’re having Tia Mowry, Brooke Shields, Michael Symon, Gordon Ramsay, Marie Osmond, Food God. There is a really fun chance within the show to peel back the curtain on celebrities at home — we’ll be able to see what Ayesha Curry has in her fridge. We did a lot of segments of “The Dish on Oz” from our own home kitchens [during the pandemic], and we heard from tons of people that it just felt good to see how chefs live in their own home spaces. So, we’re going to have celebrities come by and peek into their fridge, have them dish the details on their favorite lost child recipe that they want us to recreate.
You have deep experience in the daytime space with the cooking format from co-hosting “The Chew.” Do you think “The Good Dish” is a good replacement for people who miss that show?
It was a really special show. I hear from people every day who miss the show and miss the camaraderie — they felt like they were able to have lunch with us every day. It’s a food show, so I think there are tastes and elements of it that would definitely appeal to people who loved “The Chew,” but at the same time, I think “The Good Dish” is totally fresh. By virtue of the world we’re in now, 11 years after that show launched, we’re just dealing with a totally different platform.
Why do you think people miss “The Chew” so much?
It was the first of its kind, really — a food-based talk show. I remember when we launched 11 years ago, everyone was up in arms because the slot we were taking had previously been occupied by “All My Children” and people were very sad to see it go away. Eventually, we were able to win over some of those viewers and become a part of the daytime landscape that people really looked forward to. It was just easy, informative and uplifting every single day. And that is very much the tone of “The Good Dish.”
You left “The Chew” the season before it was canceled, but do you think the show ended prematurely? Around that time, your former co-host Mario Batali was fired amid accusations of sexual harassment, and a lot of viewers wanted the show to keep going, even without him.
Unfortunately, I have no idea about the inner workings of networks and choices they make. It’s something that I’m sure they took into deep consideration because it was a show that was beloved by a lot of people. I’m sure they had their reasons, whatever they were. But I think it’s great to know that people still miss it because that just tells me that the hunger is still there for a show very much like “The Good Dish.”
Have you missed doing a daily TV show?
TV is one of my loves and I think of it so highly because it was the original way to meet people in their homes and to be invited to spend this time together. It is that meditative, coming-home, comfort food experience. When I think about what I hope this show becomes for people, it’s that TV that you turn to that lets you settle, lets you relax, lets you take a breath and lets you properly just enjoy time.
You’re taking over your dad’s time slot and you’ve been a fixture on his show for years. How do you feel about his show ending, after so many years?
He’s been on the air for so long and been able to do so much with his show, which is incredible. The people he’s been able to empower to feel like real experts in their health and really experts in their body. It’s crazy to think it was in Season 13. People forget this, but my dad didn’t go on “Oprah” for the first time until I was a sophomore in high school, so I grew up with my dad being a heart surgeon — a highly accomplished one. That was his profession. The TV thing hit pretty late in my life, in terms of him being on TV regularly and then every day with his own show. To be able to see him continue to explore and push boundaries, I love him so much and I’m excited for him.
You grew up with your dad is a doctor, then as a TV star, and now, he wants to tackle a new career path in politics. What are your thoughts about that?
Look, he’s my dad and I’ve known him always to be the hardest-working, most curious and so intelligent in everything that he does. I love him and I’m so proud of him. And honestly, I’m so grateful that he believed in “The Good Dish” so early on and gave us this opportunity to incubate the show on his show for the last couple years. Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz., they all incubated on “Oprah” — it’s such a great way to be able to test the water, see if audiences are interested, get feedback and start to cultivate that interest so that when a new show launches, people don’t even know what’s happening. So, I’m incredibly grateful. He’s always been such a champion for all of us here, and he’s so excited for us to have a chance to stretch our wings now.
Depending what happens with the Senate race, do you think he would want to return to TV? Or is he done with that chapter in his life?
Oh, I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him! My dad doesn’t do anything half-assed. He’s a surgeon, [so] his training is do it right the first time, do it perfectly. And more than anything, be of service.