TORONTO – Art Napoleon and Dan Hayes appear to be an unlikely pair, but they both bring passion and knowledge from their diverse backgrounds as they explore food cultures and traditions in the TV show “Moosemeat and Marmalade.”
Napoleon is a wild game foodie and bush cook who grew up living off the land in northeastern British Columbia. Hayes is a classically trained chef who has worked in England, Spain and the Canary Islands. He owns The London Chef, a cooking school, pantry and catering company in Victoria.
Both share a zeal for investigating what sustainability and food production look like in the modern world and use their expertise to hunt, forage or ice fish in various locations.
In season 2 of “Moosemeat and Marmalade,” airing on APTN, the pair continue to explore their different cultures and venture out of B.C., travelling to Ontario, England and Scotland.
In each of the 13 episodes, one of them chooses an ingredient – examples include moose, porcupine, squirrel, beaver, caviar and urchin – and leads the journey.
They then create unique dishes from the ingredients they’ve found.
“When he’s leading basically we’re going into regular kind of chef-y establishments where real chefs would hang out, not bush men like me, and I’m the fish out of water,” explains Napoleon, who also writes, produces, transcribes and voices the show into Cree.
“And then when I’m leading an episode we usually head to the woods, hunt, we forage and then he’s the fish out of water and we’re kind of like the odd couple. Any chance to educate we throw that in too.”
Napoleon, who makes Victoria his home and is from Moberly Lake, B.C., says he grew up “eating a lot of game from the land.”
“I was raised by grandparents. I didn’t speak English. They were still basically following the cycles of the land,” says Napoleon. “We still had hunting seasons for different game and we had a garden for our veggies and we foraged a lot, picked a lot of berries as a kid.”
“We were basically still living off the land. That’s where I picked up some of these skills, cook with fire, learning all the stuff that goes with outdoor cookery.”
Filming “Moosemeat and Marmalade” has come with challenges.
“I know other outdoor shows have big, big budgets and they take a long period of time to get the right kind of shots, especially hunting shows, they take days to get their animal – and we’re doing it in three hours, and we’re going into areas we don’t necessarily know,” says Napoleon.
“When we did it in my territory it was no problem because I know the country like the back of my hand. We got three game animals three days in a row. That’s probably a little bit of magic and luck. But now when we’re going all over parts of Canada we have to magically find the right guides that we can trust, that know their territories and that can try to guarantee us an animal.”
When a couple of guides didn’t come through, local hunters donated meat. “It’s also classified as a documentary series so we’ve got to go with what’s real,” Napoleon notes.
Napoleon, whose resume includes the CBC Winnipeg Comedy Festival, “Down 2 Earth,” “Dead Dog Cafe Comedy Hour” and “The New Canoe,” which earned him a Leo Award nomination for hosting, met Hayes on the set of the children’s TV series “Tiga Talk” where the chef was catering lunches.
He learned Hayes liked to hunt.
“He was quite fascinated by my ability to hunt whenever I want to and that I grew up on the land, so he agreed to a screen test and there was chemistry right from the beginning,” says Napoleon.