Pregnant Daphne Oz Joins Judges Gordon Ramsay and Aarón Sanchez for MasterChef Junior Season 8
Let’s get cookin’!
MasterChef fans, rejoice, because MasterChef Junior is coming back. PEOPLE can exclusively announce that the beloved kid contestant version of MasterChef will return for an eighth season.
“I just have so much fun,” she tells PEOPLE exclusively about her addition to the show. “That’s what makes the show different from what I call ‘MasterChef Seniors.’ As a kid, you don’t really have ego invested in it yet—this is fun, this is passion.”
“Daphne brings a positive energy and unique perspective to the show and we’re thrilled to have her as part of the MasterChef family,” Ramsay tells PEOPLE.
Since her departure from The Chew in 2017, Oz has been keeping plenty busy with projects like her segment “The Dish on Oz” on her dad’s The Dr. Oz Show. She also hosts the “Mom Brain Podcast” alongside Hilaria Baldwin.
“She is a strong [woman] in the food industry and a mother which I respect deeply,” Sanchez tells PEOPLE. “She brings such an effervescence to the set.”
Oz, who has three children of her own and is expecting her fourth at the end of the summer, says her own experience with motherhood has molded how she approaches being on the show — especially when it comes to eliminating the youngsters.
“I’m always thinking, ‘How would I want another adult to speak to one of my children about something they are so passionate about?’ ” she says. “ ‘How can I speak in a way that in a way that encourages them to see where they can learn without making them feel like they’re not cut out for it?’ ”
Oz hopes that her own children, Philomena Bijou, 5, Jovan Jr., 3, and Domenica Celine — who adorably call the show “MonsterChef” — all find “passions like these kids have.”
She says working with Ramsay and Sanchez has been “really rewarding.”
“I want people to see the family dynamic that exists behind the camera on screen as well — it’s so real,” she says. “It blows me away how close these people are and how much like a family they are. I love to be able to bring that front and center for the cameras to see as well.”
PEOPLE also got first look at a baby sprinkle-themed competition slated for the upcoming season. The chef-testants were tasked with feeding a room full of expecting mothers in what Oz describes as a “wonderful celebration of hormones and happiness.”
“It was definitely a party,” says Oz. “I haven’t actually had a baby shower since my first so it was really exciting for me to get to celebrate.”
“It was all these different women in stages of their pregnancy coming together to enjoy some really delicious food and be taken care of and spoiled,” she adds. “And we have surprises happen along the way — but no births!”
To continue the unicorn-themed extravaganza, Sanchez even comes in riding a unicorn with a gift for Oz at one point.
While a premiere date has not yet been set for the show, the young contestants will face fun and engaging challenges, including cooking a meal at a historical renaissance fair and facing some monster trucks at a motocross race. Keeping it in the family, Gordon’s daughter Tilly Ramsay will also make an appearance in the MasterChef kitchen for a doughnut contest.
The winner of MasterChef Junior will not only take home the trophy, but will also receive a cash prize of $100,000.
“I think loyal fans of the show, and new fans of the show, will see that if you’re looking for a place to be inspired and to have fun,” says Oz, “then this is the show for you.”