MOOSEMEAT AND MARMALADE EAT talks to chef Dan Hayes about the popular cable series he co-hosts on APTV.
DAN HAYES, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE LONDON CHEF, sat down with me to talk about Moosemeat and Marmalade, an educational, entertaining and rather funny cable television series that takes the viewer along with Hayes and his co-host and “bush cook” Art Napoleon to the wilds of the Canadian west coast and the woods and shores of the U.K. It’s all in the interests of exploring two very different cultures through food and the way it’s gathered.
COURTESY OF MOOSEMEAT AND MARMALADE
Having grown up just outside London and trained as a professional chef in Spain, fishing and hunting have always been a part of life for Hayes. He and Napoleon met on the set of a kids’ TV show called Tiga Talk around 2010, where Napoleon was voicing one of the characters and Hayes was catering. Out of curiosity, Hayes started chatting with the “big guy who had an old Winchester .30-30 propped over his shoulder,” and the conversation about their mutual love of hunting in their respective parts of the world drew them together. Coincidentally, producer Hilary Pryor was standing in the food line and overheard their conversation. Soon after, a pitch and a screen test commenced. The chemistry worked. The rest, as they say, is history, and with the show well into its fourth season, and a fifth in the bag, it seems Moosemeat and Marmalade isn’t going anywhere. The name Moosemeat and Marmalade is meant to accentuate the differences between the ways of life of the two hosts, with Art Napoleon representing the “Moosemeat” and Dan Hayes the “Marmalade.” Two guys from opposite sides of the world—who grew up in their own kinds of nature and both with a love of hunting, gathering and cooking—they soon found they had bizarre similarities despite their huge differences in culture and upbringing. “The whole process of gathering food is so relatable in any language, in any culture,” says Hayes, “whether it’s growing carrots or catching fish.” Art Napoleon grew up in a remote Cree reserve past Fort St. John in British Columbia and was raised by his grandparents who taught him his hunting, foraging and cooking skills. The two hosts regularly make fun of each other’s way of doing things, including the way they dress and cook, though, ribbing aside, it is clear that the two men are close friends. “Art is a wonderful guy. We hunt together, we fish together, we cook together. He’s an amazing man and a dear friend. I’ve learned a lot from him. I don’t know if this show would work if we didn’t genuinely get along.” A couple of years ago, I watched an episode or two of Moosemeat and Marmalade and enjoyed them thoroughly. In anticipation of writing this piece, I binged several more, endearing me to the two, the places they explored and the way the show unfolded, sometimes with a twist. “The show can be unpredictable as it goes,” says Hayes. “There is never any guarantee that the bear or the beaver or the venison you are after will be available. However, you will find a grouse or a patch of nettles or something else that allows the show to be surprising and spontaneous.” This adds to the charm. What really drew me in, however, was watching what these two learned from each other, their mutual respect for what they took from the land. Napoleon always includes a gratitude prayer with every capture, both of them giving thanks for the sacrifice the animal has just made for their benefit. Hayes gets a peek into the Cree culture, sampling things he may never have had a chance to try, and we get to go along with him. “The thing that really stands out in the show is the people, the communities. In particular for me, it’s being able to delve straight into the centre of First Nations communities in Canada,” he says. When asked what his least favourite and most favoured wild game are, Hayes doesn’t hesitate. “Seal and whale blubber is a no, as is beaver tail, muskrat and porcupine, but you can’t blame the porcupine. That was Art’s inability to cook it,” he ribs. “And hare, venison and squirrel, particularly with a fresh-made pappardelle, are a few favourites.”
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ART N APOLEON AND DAN HAY ES Moosemeat and Marmalade is arranged so that one episode has Hayes in the lead, taking his co-host to London or Spain, and the next episode has Napoleon taking Dan Hayes to the wilds of British Columbia and beyond. Often, they end up right here on Vancouver Island. “When it’s Art’s turn, we may go somewhere he is familiar with and spend time with his community in familiar territory. Or we might go somewhere we are both new to, such as Nunavut. When it’s my turn, it’s the U.K., Spain, Europe, sometimes Canada, taking him on my adventure.” Even off-camera, the two hang out regularly, organizing hunting and fishing trips and sharing their catches with each other. Their natural friendship and camaraderie translate through to the show, making it a natural, genuine fit. It is this coming together that makes the show so appealing. “Art is a fantastic hunter,” says Hayes. “He’s simple and old-fashioned in his approach to hunting. I’m more into modern gear, new calibres. Art has hunted all his life, though I hunt more often,” he explains. “The wilderness is my sport, it’s what I do when I need a break from everything. If Moosemeat and Marmalade you’ve never sat on a marsh at 5 o’clock in the morcan be viewed on APTN ning with rain in your face and watching the light (Aboriginal People’s Television come up, you haven’t lived,” he adds. Network) and at APTN.ca While a large part of the entertainment of the show is lighthearted, somewhat spontaneous and always a great adventure, the truth is that these are the ties that bind us all universally. Food, nature, cooking and community.
Moosemeatandmarmalade.com Dan can be found at his cooking school, event space and catering centre, The London Chef, in Victoria, BC. TheLondonChef.com