For the latest Nicolas Alexander Q&A, I sit down with the unquestionably talented and infectiously energetic, Dan Churchill. This Aussie legend is one of the world’s most exciting celebrity chefs, who first rose to fame on Masterchef Australia in 2013 and now finds himself taking over New York!
Dan’s list of achievements is intimidatingly extensive, but if I had to list off a few, they would include – successful author of 3 published cookbooks, a regular on ABC’s Good Morning America, part of Emmy award-winning cooking show, The Chew, the first chef ever to be appointed ambassador to sports clothing company Under Armour, which saw him attend the 2018 Winter Olympics and cook for Olympic Gold Medallist Lindsey Vonn and Executive Chef at his own restaurant in New York.
I hope you enjoy getting to know Dan, a regular bloke from Sydney’s northern beaches who proves that dreams can be achieved if you are prepared to just have a crack.
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
I grew up on the northern beaches of Sydney, Australia!
DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT THAT NOT MANY PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT?
Cooking! But for real, I can do a 20-minute plank with a weight on my back.
IT'S YOUR LAST 3-COURSE MEAL EVER! WHAT ARE YOU ORDERING?
My spaghetti bolognese times three!
BEST SELF-HELP/LIFE CHANGING BOOK?
Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson
FAVOURITE PODCAST AND WHY?
How I Built this by NPR...And I’m also excited for my own soon to be Dan Churchill Epic Table podcast! More on that later...
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A CHEF AND WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT FOOD?
I took most of my inspiration from cooking with my family and making dishes for my friends. I love that with a simple meal you can bring people together around a table and create such a powerful sense of happiness and fulfilment. Having the ability to use food as a universal language that carries a message to millions and billions of people is immense to me.
WHAT INSPIRES AND MOTIVATES YOU?
Family and friends, and people asking me questions on Instagram and social media in general.
DO YOU HAVE A DAILY MANTRA/OUTLOOK THAT YOU LIVE BY?
Control the controllable. I feel that this speaks for itself, but in life, there is so much you can’t control, so control what you can to allow yourself for freedom of expression and flexibility in all other areas. This also helps me with attaining my health and wellness goals.
BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
You have to look after yourself before you can support others.
WHAT IS YOUR MORNING ROUTINE?
I wake up and take my Athletic Greens on an empty stomach every day. Then usually if I’m hitting the gym right away, I’ll smash a couple of scrambled eggs and grab an espresso, and then it’s on to the gym for a full body session. After the gym, I grab a post-workout breakfast and get over to my restaurant Charley St to start the day.
DO YOU HAVE AN OVERALL MISSION/END GOAL WITH WHAT YOU ARE DOING?
My mission is to make the world better through colourful, healthy food. If I can make even one person healthier, happier, and more fulfilled through the food they eat and the lifestyle they live, then I’m happy. I always want people to feel like they can use me as a resource for their healthy recipes and cooking adventures.
WE KNOW YOU LOVE YOUR HEALTH & FITNESS. IN YOUR OPINION WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE HEALTHY?
To be healthy means you’re completely happy, so to have a balance of social, spiritual, psychological, physical and mental health.
3 SIMPLE TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR OVERALL HEALTH
1. Take out added sugar
2. Eat colourfully
3. Make sure everything you eat is delicious
YOU HAVE BEEN ASSIGNED ALL SORTS OF LABELS - WORLD-RENOWNED CHEF, FITNESS GURU, TV PERSONALITY, AUTHOR, AUSSIE LEGEND.... WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR 3 PROUDEST MOMENTS TO DATE?
1. Being named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 class of 2019
2. Opening Charley St with 3 of my closest mates
3. Charley St being featured in the New York Times
CHARLEY ST OPENED IN NEW YORK IN 2018. IN YOUR OWN WORDS WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?
Charley St is a healthy fast-casual café with colourful, farm-to-table dishes made from fresh, simple ingredients. The restaurant focuses on efforts of sustainability, community engagement, and sourcing high-quality products from local farmers.
WHAT DRIVES YOU TO KEEP GOING WHEN THINGS GET REALLY TOUGH?
What I’m trying to achieve and the people I want to help, being a figurehead for what I stand for and consistently believing in myself.
WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF SUCCESS?
Being fully happy and healthy in all aspects of my life, and supporting those around me in what they do as well. If those around me aren’t reaching their full potential then I don’t consider my job to be fully done.
ANY EXCITING NEW PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE?
At the moment I’m launching my own podcast, which will be coming in April/May of 2019, and a new cookbook will be out later this year! We also recently opened our studio kitchen and started The Epic Table production company, so continuing the efforts around those two endeavours will be a major project for this year.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR 2019?
1. Opening the second location of Charley St #2
2. To run a 3:15 time in the 2019 NYC Marathon
3. To shoot 300 videos with my team this year
FAVOURITE HOLIDAY DESTINATION AND WHY?
Italy! It’s culturally amazing to me.
FIRST 4 THINGS YOU PUT IN YOUR SUITCASE?
Camera, speed rope, running/workout sneakers, and my Athletic Greens travel packs.
IF YOU COULD COOK FOR AND THEN SHARE A MEAL WITH 4 PEOPLE, DEAD OR ALIVE WHO WOULD THEY BE?
1. Tom Brady
2. Leonardo Da Vinci
3. Jamie Oliver
4. Muhammad Ali
DESCRIBE YOUR COOKING STYLE?
My philosophy for cooking is that flavour is the biggest and most powerful component. Above all else, it has to be tasty. Then, of course, I cook with heaps of colour, focusing on the fact that with more colour brings more nutrients, lending an overall healthy nature to the dish.
YOU WERE THE FIRST CHEF TO BE APPOINTED AS AN AMBASSADOR TO SPORTS CLOTHING COMPANY UNDER ARMOUR. HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?
It came about through me being consistent with my brand, which they recognized through Google research and SEO. It meant a lot to me because it’s something I feel I was born to do. Having received a Master in Exercise Science, I was able to combine two worlds: my love for cooking and sport. I get to be part of an organization designed to make athletes better. This is something that really fuels me and I feel I can have a major impact that I was recognized.
YOU RECENTLY ATTENDED THE 2018 WINTER OLYMPICS ALONGSIDE OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALLIST LINDSEY VONN TO REPRESENT UNDER ARMOUR. HOW WAS THE EXPERIENCE AND DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING FROM YOUR TIME WITH LINDSEY?
This experience was one of the best of my life that I’ll never forget. It taught me a lot about dealing with a team that is super high-performing. Being able to do this at the Olympics with an athlete like her is incredible. It taught me to deal with a profile of someone that is an absolute image for what they do. That’s something I’ll take away, her strength and mental capacity. You look at what she’s been through and goes through daily and you realize anything is possible when you set your mind to it.
YOU ARE A GREAT EXAMPLE OF WHAT CAN HAPPEN WHEN YOU CHASE YOUR PASSION. WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE MAYBE HESITANT TO CHASE WHAT THEY REALLY WANT IN LIFE?
If you truly know in the back of your mind what you want to do, you have to look after yourself and you’re going to have to be the one to do it. Don’t continue to wait for an opportunity to arise, but instead find a way to make it happen. Sometimes you have to be your own boss!
WHAT IS THE ONE RECIPE OF YOURS YOU WOULD SHARE WITH A GUY FOR HIM TO COOK FOR HIS PARTNER FOR THE FIRST TIME?
This one would have to be one of my simple pasta dishes. Pasta cooked al dente with a simple homemade sauce is so nostalgic for me. This is a dish that isn’t complicated but is easy to wow someone with. It’s simple, easy, fun, and romantic. Set the mood with some candles and be playful with it. You can create action and drama all in one dish.
Head over to Dan's website to find an array of fresh, colourful and of course, delicious recipes as well a tonne of useful and actionable advice to help build the foundations of a healthy lifestyle.