Once a week, Victoria chef Dan Hayes puts on a tweed ensemble, grabs his shotgun and heads out to a local farm in search of rabbits, birds and deer.
Not eating farmed meat is a personal choice for the 34-year-old owner of The London Chef, but getting the meat to fill his freezer is only one part of his love for hunting.
“I love being so close to nature. I work in an industry that’s crazy with long hours and it’s hard. If I can have an opportunity to go to a shore and sit and wait for dusk before I go into the kitchen, it’s fabulous,” said Hayes. “Ironically, nobody I know is closer to nature than people who hunt.”
Hayes’ passion for hunting and cooking has resulted in the second season of the Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN) Moosemeat & Marmalade — a documentary food series that brings together two very different chefs and hunters to explore culture, culinary traditions and great food across Canada and the U.K.
His television journey began several years ago when Hayes’ catering company was serving food during the filming of another APTN show. Hayes struck up a conversation with a Cree man holding a fake wooden rifle. That man was Art Napoleon — an acclaimed First Nations bush cook, hunter and musician, who grew up in northern B.C., but has since moved to Victoria.
The show’s producer saw an opportunity for something fun. The pair have been friends ever since then.
“I am always dropping by his house to give him a few geese and he’s dropping by my house to give me a chunk of elk,” said Hayes, who moved to Victoria nine years ago from England and has worked with some of Europe’s most revered seafood chefs.
Season two of Moosemeat & Marmalade takes the pair from B.C. to Ontario, then overseas to England and Scotland where the chefs explore a host of classic and not-so-classic cuisines while cooking with guests such as the famous U.K. game hunter Mike Robinson and the eccentric wild rice farmer James Whetung from northern Ontario.
Trying to include First Nations communities wherever possible, the dynamic duo also venture into some extreme food tastings, such as singed porcupine, while investigating seaweed farming and diving for the world’s best scallops off the Isle of Mull in Scotland — an experience Hayes still talks about with excitement.
“Having a hand-delivered scallop brought up to me, smelling it and eating it raw, it’s what chefs live for. It’s just incredible,” said Hayes, noting some animals people don’t normally think of as food are just meat at the end of the day.
“I could make a Raggu and make it out of six creatures that you would never want to eat and you would be blown away by how delicious it is.”
In order to film the 13-part series, the pair went away for two weeks at a time. Filming also took place in several locations throughout Victoria, such as 10 Acres Bistro and Bar, Michell Bros., Farm and Foghorn Fishing Charters. Going back to the U.K. and hunting with an old friend was one of Hayes’ most memorial experiences during filming of the show.
The first episode of season two aired Sept. 7 and follows the pair hunting for geese in Saanich. For Hayes, the show is not only funny and entertaining, but also a way of bringing two cultures together while showcasing the wonderful world of hunting.
“I think people sometimes think hunting is something you can’t do,” said Hayes. “Do it once and then you’ve started feeding a family to me in the most humane and ethical healthy way you possibly can.”
For more information visit moosemeatandmarmalade.com.