If you haven’t noticed already, Australians are taking over – the NYC food scene, that is – and leading the charge is the talented and infectiously energetic health-focused chef, Daniel Churchill. From regular segments on Good Morning America, to fueling Olympian, Lindsey Vonn at this year’s winter Olympics, and his own series Feast With Friends, he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
What inspired you to become a chef?
I had been cooking from a young age but it was the realization of what food has the ability to do to the world that motivated me to pursue it as a career. When you think about it, meal times are some of the happiest of our day and being able to be a part of that is truly gratifying. I am also a creative, so coming up with dishes and putting them on a plate for people to enjoy allows us chefs to really express our craft and in some ways demonstrate where we come from. The power of food is phenomenal!
You’ve made it your mission to bring nourishing, colorful, and healthy food to people – why is this so important to you?
My philosophy is that the key to your health is your happiness. Colorful, vibrant food is something that our bodies are naturally stimulated by. The colors release happy hormones in the brain. So to be working with colorful healthy ingredients, I see myself having a positive impact on an individuals quality of life. One thing people often forget that the more colorful an ingredient is the more nutrient dense it is as nutrients make up the color. On the flip side the more colorful the more receptors you require to take on those nutrients meaning there is more flavor. So in fact the more colorful the more healthy and then the tastier the ingredients are!
I have always been super active myself, with a Masters in Exercise Science and working with the amazing partner of Under Armour, I have always been into an active healthy lifestyle. So my food is simply an expression of that value.
One thing people often forget that the more colorful an ingredient is the more nutrient dense it is as nutrients make up the color.
How have your Aussie roots impacted how you think about cooking?
Growing up in Australia I was fortunate to be surrounded by a gorgeous coastline and have some of the best soil, land and farmers in the world. Our produce, livestock and seafood is unbelievable. Rather than have a distinct cuisine we found ourselves evolving from the ground and being influenced by other cultures. Growing up in that part of the world has invigorated me to respect every individual ingredient with the utter most respect. Seeing what farmers go to, to provide us with the best quality and nutrient dense ingredients possible.
Growing up in that part of the world has invigorated me to respect every individual ingredient with the utter most respect.
You’ve just been to South Korea to cook for Lindsey Vonn at the Olympics (so exciting!)- how did you two start working together and what sort of meals will you be preparing for her?
Lindsey is truly an inspiration to so many. Such a remarkable person and of course athlete. Under Armour are also a phenomenal company who are all about making an athlete better. I was brought on as The Chef of Under Armour to work in close proximity to some of the world’s best, such as Lindsey in her quest for a podium at the Olympics. I am also working closely with the Under Armour content team in delivering food/cooking material across their channels that reflect both of our passionate philosophies. We started the partnership last year in the lead up to the games. I started working on understanding Lindsey’s likes and dislikes, then like I have done in the past with previous professional codes, I studied her sport and worked out the philological demands. Working with coaches who helped establish her daily routines I would work in meal times in accordance with that.
The meals themselves were built around my colorful philosophy. Like my Textured Tahini Plate. A complex carbohydrate and depending on the time of day either a higher GI ingredient, but always protein and vegetables.
What are your suggestions for healthy appetizers that will also please a crowd?
I think super clean tacos are always a winner, such as my grilled fish, lime quacamole and pico de gallo salad. They are fun, definitely party worthy and super easy to make. Corn tortillas are great gluten free option, but if you want to go super clean you can use a leafy green to act as your vessel.
As the host of a party, it can be hard to cook and enjoy your company, what are your tips for maintaining that balance?
-Cook the dessert option the day of and have it sitting waiting to be cut into
-Roasts are always a great option – the carving can add serious entertaining value. If you are searing meat then make sure everything else is done so you are only back in the kitchen for 15 minutes
-You should never feel like you are working when you have guests coming around
After living in NYC for the last couple of years, what are your favorite restaurants for:
Coffee on the go:
Three Seat Espresso & Barber
Abraco for an espresso
Dinner with Friends:
Estella… still trying to work out some of those flavors in the dishes, awesome wine list too
Mace… this place is incredible. They do risen mise en plus as if it’s a kitchen, but for cocktails
Speedy Romeo… the team there are phenomenal!
If you could invite 7 people to dinner (dead or alive) who would that be?
Mum (of course)
Tom Brady (Giselle would naturally come too)
What’s coming up next for you?
-My first NYC restaurant opening in May in Nolita called ‘Charley St’
-Season 2 of my show Feast with Friends is currently being filmed
-Launch Studio Kitchen, found within Charley St
-Series content with Under Armour
-First product launch 🙂
To keep up with Dan and all of his adventures, follow him on Instagram.