It is the many differences - in outlook, in skill level, in specialisation and in approach - between each of our founders, creators and partners, which truly nurture the Feels Botanical business and allow it to flourish.
In blending our Eau de vie with unique and thoughtful Botanicals, AND in working with Australia’s most forward-thinking venues, bartenders, creatives and chefs, our central aim is to build a collection of sensorial experiences that extend well beyond the cocktail itself… To craft perfect moments of enjoyment.
Feels Botanical is all about championing that which makes each of us unique, and empowering our people to contribute to the development of Feels Botanical in their own meaningful and lasting way, every day. To this end, our “Creative Control” series serves to showcase some of Australia’s most cutting edge individuals, capturing their process and approach towards creation, and allowing that to ground, orient and direct the Brand.
We are proud to introduce this series, starting with our very own Culinary Creative, Dan Churchill.
Dan Churchill needs no introduction… He’s simply a weapon! With a Masters degree in Science under his belt, A popular restaurant in New York with his name on the door and a globally renowned weekly health Podcast, Dan is considered one of the foremost minds in wellness. It is our absolute pleasure to have Dan on board as one of Feels key partners. As a major investor in our brand, and as our new Culinary Creative, Dan will focus on food-integration and pairing strategies, as well as assist in building new botanical combinations for entirely new products. Very exciting times ahead. We’re excited to bring you this, our first interview with our new man Dan!
Name: Dan Churchill
Where are you Living: NYC, Manhattan specific (a bit different to my Australian roots).
Where are you from- what is your hometown/birthplace: I was born in Sydney and like Co Founder Blake, I grew up on the Northern beaches. One of the best ways to be brought up and exposed to one of Australia’s and the world’s greatest landscapes.
What you do: I am an Aussie Chef & Author living in the US promoting the food & lifestyle of Australia. I create menus for some impactful driven concepts, including my own at my Manhattan restaurant ‘Charley St’ and I work with companies to build their brands such as the likes of Centr, Ten Thousand & Athletic Greens. All my partnerships work hand in hand to drive home my focus in helping people to Eat Like Legends.
How did you start out in your industry & how long have you been in it? I’ve been cooking like mad since the age of 11. My family and I would take turns cooking each night throughout the week. Despite this obsession, I didn’t go straight into the kitchen after high school, but instead pursued the field of human performance. After completing my Masters In Exercise Science, I began working with athletes to help improve their performance… And food became my vehicle through which I achieved this. Whilst working hard on the side to create cookbooks devoted to performance cooking, I decided to work at night in kitchens. After several years working in some epic places. I had an opportunity to move to the US and grow my brand.
Why did you get involved with the Feels Botanical brand: It personifies everything I want a brand to be in the space:
- It’s true to my Australian roots
- Feels uses a pretty natural and botanical distillation process - making use of the natural flavours in some of my favourite epic fruits.
- Feels is an ethically built business and focusses, where possible, on giving back to it’s community, and strives to drive a better, more sustainable future.
- A personal fav of mine - Feels promotes the use of some less popular indigenous botanicals of our country. Many of the botanicals used in Feels can’t effectively be farmed and are often foraged for using the old methods established by our first nations people.
Are there any synergies with the Feels Brand and you/your brand:
WIthout a doubt the piece on ‘impact’. All my cooking also avoids refined sugar and uses the natural sugars found in the best quality fruits to shine. I also find myself often linking my own ideas back to my Australia heritage - this is something that Feels Botanical does also, so the synergy there is pretty great.
What did you feel in a emotive sense when you first came into contact with the Feels Botanical brand and product range?
Honestly when I first received the bottle and tasted the product it just felt right and connected. I mean, the brand’s style really grabbed me, but it was their philosophy, and the sheer quality of the product and it's profile that really spoke to me and aligned with me. To also be connected with founders that I have actually known for a very long time and trust - that was pretty special.
What is your go-to Feels Botanical product: Without a doubt it is Bask over ice. Sometimes with a squeeze of fresh citrus. Can not go wrong, refreshing, yet crisp and brings that whole new way of creating alcohol right through to the palate. It’s unmistakable.
How and why did you utilise Feels as a product offering to your clientele?
My community are definitely in the space of taste and health, two amazing features the brand brings. Across the range you see versatility in each flavour profile and, due to the process of using the natural sugars in the fruit, it is truly an alcohol you can enjoy more freely. And lastly, the ‘Aussie’ way of life is super appealing and the story the Feels brand tells is something I know my crew connect with.
Tell us about the place you tap into when you work on bringing to life a drink within your venue?
My studio kitchen is really my culinary creative zone. It is below my restaurant in NYC. I can turn music on and just work with flavors, aromats and blend sauces. Feels runs parallel, allowing me to feel free to create without distraction. This method ensures the true creative in me emerges. After that point I can then wean back what is more realistic and achievable and bring it to my audience and customers.
During your creative process, what role does feeling and logic play? Is one more important than the other?
I believe in a creative process without boundaries. I rely on my natural emotions and feelings to inspire my food and beverages. Logic comes in when you blend the story and ingredients to a community and consumers. Will they relate to this story? Will it build empathy? Will they connect to the feeling I’m wanting to create? Yet, whilst creativity is paramount, logic really grounds my thinking. So.. Both are important but I think creativity is the secret spice that really inspires changes to standard thinking.
Is there a person or artist(s) that first inspired you?
Jamie Oliver.. He is the first person who got me in the kitchen.
When do you feel most creative…
When sauces are gently simmering and I’m seasoning to taste. It is the magical moment of feeling creative but nailing my own thoughts on flavour.
Where do you look for inspiration…
I have plenty of cookbooks I reference. One of the greatest inspirations is heading to the market, specifically the Unions Square Farmers Market in NYC. I really enjoy going there, chatting to the other chefs and seeing what’s available. From there you have a wealth of options to be inspired by. I'm a big fan of doing this when I travel.
I also like chatting to mates who are of indigenous culture and they share the cooking techniques and ingredients of their ancestors. You can learn so much from how these traditions have created both knowledge and story in the food space.
When I’m feeling burnt out, I wind down and reset by…
Reading for sure! I’m also a big fan of surfing, however that is less of an option when living in Manhattan of course.
My favourite way to drink Feels (insert product you like) is…
Bask, ice with citrus. Simple and delightful. It really allows you to appreciate the complexity of the spirit itself.
When I’m drinking BASK, I set the mood with this song:
OOh… Depends on the drink.. If i’m mellow but with the boys we’d be drinking Bask, grapefruit juice, ice, soda and salt rim… and i’d chuck on Austin Rose “Ride”.
The person (dead or alive) I’d most like to drink it with…
Tom Brady… what a legend
What you may not know about me…
I have the unofficial world record for a the lowest resting HR
Advice to those wanting to get into your field:
Passion does not lie. Be consistent with your message and be prepared to tell your story. The creative chef space is super interesting, and every day I feel I have so much to learn, but when building your ‘brand’ be sure to stay true to your core message as you learn more from what you say no to than what you say yes to and your audience know that even more than you.