Art Napolean and Dan Hayes are an unlikely pair.
Still, they both bring passion and knowledge from their diverse backgrounds as they explore food cultures and traditions in the television show Moosemeat and Marmalade.
Now the duo has set their eyes on the Greater Victoria region for a trio of shows. Shooting wrapped up recently in Saanich and Sooke, and a third show is planned for Port Renfrew in April.
At its foundation, Moosemeat and Marmalade is a food documentary that chronicles the culinary adventures of bush cook Napoleon and classically trained chef Hayes while they hunt, forage and learn new cooking methods in unfamiliar places.
The two bring their own take on what it takes to harvest game and greens and get them to the table sustainably, with an eye to zero waste and respect for the traditions of the people they encounter along the way.
That respect for people and their traditions is a key part of the show. It’s a chance for audiences to see and hear from Indigenous people as they share their knowledge about food and the values that are dear to their cultures.
But in a year of COVID, the making of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) show has its challenges.
“COVID made things tricky because we couldn’t go to some communities because of lockdown,” said Napolean, an Indigenous chef of Cree and Dane Zaa descent and the show’s co-producer.
The result? The show shifted focus from national and international locales to staying closer to home.
Both Greater Victoria residents plan to shoot at least four shows on Vancouver Island this year. More shows are planned for other parts of Western Canada, including the Prairies.
“We always tried to do a few local shows every year. Now everything will be local. We won’t be travelling to the UK or Europe this year,” said Hayes, a British-born chef trained in the classical French technique.
But Europe’s loss is Sooke’s win.
The pair spent more than three days in Sooke shooting their most recent show and did everything from hunting to foraging and eating their meal.
They won’t say what they hunted in Sooke – that will be a surprise for the show’s broadcast later this year – but plan to hunt spring bear in Port Renfrew next month. (In the past, Hayes and Napoleon have prepared bison, raccoon, bull testicles, and moose nose.)
Sooke holds a special place for Hayes.
“I always find the minute you get to Sooke, you start to feel more West Coast. It’s a different feel. It’s a different vibe. It feels far more small townish than Victoria,” he said.
And best of all, “We ate some amazing food.”