Life Tastes Good as A Dude

{ Celebrity cook and qualified physical trainer Daniel Churchill reveals it was his mum who first awoke him to gluten free }

Last year Daniel Churchill found fame as a contestant on Masterchef, this year he’s living in the S, writing cookbooks and filming a TV series. On a breather back home in Sydney’s north shore,
he catches up with yum.
How are you dealing with your new celeb status after appearing on Masterchef last year?
Ha ha…celeb status?? Well firstly I don’t really see myself as one…maybe a ‘Z-lister’or something…But Masterchef has definitely changed my life that’s for sure. If you asked me 2 years ago what I
would be doing, I may have aimed at eventually doing what I am now, but it definitely would not have happened this quickly. Masterchef taught me so much about cooking, camera angles and myself, and has created a platform to work with. I guess I took it with both hands. It’s pretty epic when you hear people say they are inspired by what you do, it’s good to know the message is working.


You’re from Sydney’s Northern Beaches and now live in the United States (though recently spotted by paparazzi back in Bondi)…where are you and why are you there?
Yeah that was definitely a bit of a weird moment having pictures taken without me knowing…can’t a brother eat a coconut quinoa porridge? I was very fortunate to pick up a two-book deal from Simon & Schuster along with a TV series. So now I’m working between Los Angeles and New York, on shoots and editing books before the first book, Dudefood, is released there in April
2015. I’m back over here at the moment as there area number of events I’m a part of including the launch of three new super food cafe’s across Australia for THR1VE. Being their ambassador I wanted to be here. I’m also working closely with the ‘Ocsober’ campaign, raising money for Life Education. I’ll also be back over in Australia at Christmas as I re-release The Healthy Cook, so busy
times ahead.

How does ‘gluten free’ fit into your life?
I first came across ‘gluten’ when I was a teenager, when my mum was told she had an intolerance. As I was cooking on a regular basis I accounted for this within our ingredients. As I dived further into my uni studies and interest in nutrition my understanding of the protein ‘gluten’ grew, and the harm it can cause to our insides. I am personally not gluten intolerant and can digest it quite well. However the effect it has not only on the digestive system, but also how it can instigate a number of particularly harmful reactions and autoimmune responses motivates me to avoid it. I do love my pasta, but only have it on the occasion. It’s quite scary how many people don’t actually realise the intolerance they have to gluten, but once I explain this to them and they avoid it, they realise the energy and productivity benefits associated. It’s because of these supporting results and the number of strong studies that I’ve decided to intake minimal gluten. To be honest it’s not that much of a struggle. It has actually caused me to be extra creative with my cooking. For example, creating gluten-free pasta or paleo breads and an assortment of muffins. As I said, I do have it every now and then, but as most will agree, once you avoid it or have hit a routine for so long you don’t even notice it gone at all.

How much gluten-free content is included in your cookbooks?
So Dudefood is being reprinted for the worldwide launch and has aspects of gluten-free recipes however is more focused on guy-friendly scenarios. The Healthy Cook, being rereleased in Australia for Christmas, is pretty much all gluten free, apart from one recipe, which can be altered.
These dishes range from ‘Flourless Banana Bread’ to ‘Country Chicken Sweet Potato Top Pie’. Then there is Dan Churchill on a Budget, which is about cheap, healthy and wickedly tasty meals such as ‘Carbonara’, ‘Sweet Potato Bake’ and ‘Apple and Pumpkin Muffins’; all gluten free. I am also doing a book on a particular cuisine, which of course is gluten free.

In your opinion, what are some easy ways to kick start a gluten-free lifestyle?
Firstly I think it’s so important to be realistic. Going from gluten to gluten free can be somewhat of a challenge as our intakes are so dominated by the protein. Cutting it out altogether can mean limiting your intake, where you constantly find yourself hungry as you’re overwhelmed by how much gluten you’re eating in your default in take.
Obviously depending on the severity of your sensitivity there are different ways to attack it, and this is also dependent on the individual’s mindset. For someone who is really sensitive you may not have much choice, but I consider you the fortunate ones as you have more motivation to look for the much healthier alternatives and get creative.
The biggest tip I can suggest is look into all the amazing blogs and cookbooks out there that offer the delicious gluten-free options. There are seriously thousands of awesome online
blogs and cookbooks. It’s like anything, once you cut the gluten for a couple of weeks you’ll get into routine and won’t realise you aren’t having it. The main things people will see themselves really avoiding is bread and pasta, once they wrap their heads around that they will be doing fine.

“At the end of the day, I maximise great nutrition through tasty, colourful and wickedly delicious produce.”

Is the ‘gluten-free’ lifestyle a rising trend in the US as it is in Australia?
In my opinion it’s probably setting the bar. In LA alone there are that many gluten-free cafes or at each restaurant most things available would be gluten free or a gluten-free alternative available. The general scope is just so big in the US. They have over 300 million people to account for, hence why they are ahead of the game. So many people, myself initially included, definitely had this notion that the US is unhealthy and my mates told me I was going to put so much weight on over there. But in actual fact it is so easy to eat clean there, in my opinion even easier than here. They have a lot of healthy cafes and restaurants in LA, not to mention a supermarket called ‘Wholefoods’, which is seriously the bomb. But also in NY, even if it doesn’t promote itself as healthy there are options everywhere that will provide you with protein and two sides, and it’s cheap. I guess the stigma attached is related to the thousands and thousands of fast food chains at your disposal, but being who
I am I was never really interested in them. There are also heaps of places to work out and train so that was never a problem either.

Describe life there in the US…what’s your average week there involve? Have you had to sacrifice anything in your move there?
Well life is not your typical 9 to 5…I probably on average have about 3 to 4 meetings with my editor a week, who is amazing. I see the web designer and graphic designer easily 3 times per week. We generally have 2 days of filming then plenty of cooking of course. It’s awesome as I’m always meeting some pretty amazing and inspiring people, particularly over dinners and lunches, which makes the 6 days of physical training all the more relevant.

So you’re filming a TV series…what will be its underlying theme?
The TV series is based around the first book Dudefood, where I’ll be dropped into amazing scenarios to inspire adolescents to cook and eat healthy. For example one may be a fraternity, another may be working with a college football team. It could be just a one-on-one with a guy as he looks to surprise his girl for their one-year anniversary.
Can’t say too much now, I guess you will have to watch it to find out. It will be in your living room in 2015 around the same time as I’m travelling around the US on my book tour.

Give us some examples of what you like to load into your diet to maximise great nutrition?

I can’t go past quality fat. My number one rule is that a meal has to be delicious and if it is healthy at the same time…well that’s just a win win! Fat has an amazing mouth feel; foods like coconut milk and avocado are regularly found in my meals. They help me sustain so much energy throughout the day too meaning I don’t have to nap at all.
Quality fats also have amazing immune system properties so I rarely find myself getting sick. I also have plenty of protein but not to the point where you think I am a one directional cave man. One thing you’ll see with my intake is that it is majority whole foods, unprocessed and full of awesomeness.
From my fruits and veg to seafood and meats I prefer things from the markets than that found inside packets. The less processed your foods are the better they are for your insides. I love fruit but don’t need a lot, my body uses ketones for energy rather than carbohydrates as I find it’s more sustaining. At the end of the day I maximise great nutrition through tasty, colourful, and wickedly delicious produce.

Any final words of advice?
Never compromise flavour for what you perceive as good.



More Articles in this Category