Famed cardiothoracic surgeon, Mehmet Oz, fills us in on about how he and his wife, Lisa, entertain, sharing their personal entertaining tips and why he thinks it is healthy to gather with family and friends around a good meal.
Ever since Dr. Mehmet Oz appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s daytime television show talking about health and medical issues, he has been a star. Relatable, smart, warm and extremely knowledgeable, the well-known doctor, who has been in private practice for over 23 years, has shared every bit of medical and personal health information with his loyal television audience. Since 2009, when the official The Dr. Oz Show launched, he has been educating as many people as he can about the path to better health. The weekly episodes have focused on everything from the five biggest health mistakes to food that helps you live longer to weight loss tips, plus even several shows on sex, mental health and relationships—good and bad. In other words for Dr. Oz, no topic is taboo.
Off camera, he is a consummate family man who spends as much time as possible with his wife of over 34 years, Lisa, and their four children and five grandchildren in their New Jersey and Palm Beach homes. They enjoy casual entertaining, always around healthy meals and lively conversation. Recently, we caught up with them as they prepared to entertain 10 guests with a bounty of fresh vegetables, greens from their garden and a full-flavored Burgundy wine that even the doctor says, in moderation, is OK.
How do you and Lisa entertain? Is it similar to the way you eat as a family? Is it casual or more formal?
We have three kinds of parties. We have big birthday bashes outside with 100 people and a large catered buffet; smaller intimate gatherings of 12 with seated and plated catered affairs that are built around conversational themes; and, then, we have family meals, which are less formal, with everyone sharing big dishes in the middle of the table. Lisa leads the charge, with Daphne helping out a lot with these meals, but the whole family attends. These conversations keep everyone off their cellphones, and we eat in the dining room, where no one can see the television.
How do you focus on being healthy when you entertain in terms of your menu and creating a successful social environment?
Lisa is a vegetarian, so the plant-based dishes are not just side dishes. The focus is on superb tasting vegetable dishes. The protein source is mostly fish, but we have done barbecue and big turkeys in the past, especially for Thanksgiving. We usually avoid sugary desserts and opt for fresh fruit. With close friends who avoid sweets like us, we generally serve more wine or tea. Serving vegetarian is a strength, not a weakness. Our guests know the heroes of the meal are uniquely prepared salads, soups, pasta sauces and Turkish-inspired foods like mezze.
Mehmet and Lisa love the outdoors, as seen here, with their precious pup, Khaleesi.
Do you have an entertaining motto?
Never a dull moment, and the kitchen disasters will always be memorable! We once short-circuited the entire neighborhood electrical system, so we enjoyed a massive candlelight dinner instead!
What is your favorite way to entertain?
Definitely alfresco with outdoor activities, especially by the ocean in Palm Beach.
How do you mix your guest list?
Informal and spontaneous gatherings are great, especially in Palm Beach, where it is easy to drive over. Cocktails and abundant appetizers work great in that scenario. We also try to invite people who do not know each other well and group friends who we believe would have interesting conversations.
Do you have a favorite menu that works best?
Italian is the most versatile. Guests can enjoy the fresh ingredients and
Why is it important for our health to entertain and gather with friends?
Humans have thrived because we build communities and support each other a lot. The most consistent place to celebrate our lives is around food, so meals are an ancient and critical ritual that bonds us. We learn customs and share values when we entertain and feed our neighbors.
Finally, what advice do you have for our readers about the importance
The healthiest meal is one where everyone is having fun with spirited conversations, so don’t be a killjoy with a Spartan or deprivation diet menu. The 80/20 rule is wise, with 80% of the meal designed to make you feel good the next day—meaning eat food that you love that happens to be good for you too!
Dr. Oz often entertains with a bottle of his favorite Moraga Bel Air Vineyards wine, the only winery in Bel Air, CA.