16 July 2014 by Andrea Weiss

Hayden Quinn's South African cooking adventure

How does an Aussie experience South Africa? Just ask celebrity chef Hayden Quinn, who recently spent seven weeks on a 10 000km trip around the country for his latest TV series.

Hayden Quinn learning to make bobotie with Zainie Misbach in the Bo-Kaap

With his boyish good looks and cheerful demeanour, Australian celebrity chef Hayden Quinn is sure to charm his way into South African hearts as a new 13-episode cooking show, Hayden Quinn South Africa, is aired over the next three months.

Quinn, who  is a cook, marine biologist and an adventurer, signed up for the show, which is aimed at showcasing sustainable food projects around the country, in partnership with WWF South Africa and Woolworths.

The first episode featured Hayden Quinn learning to make bobotie (spiced minced meat baked with an egg topping) in the Bo-Kaap with cookery school pioneer Zainie Misbach and visiting the Oranjezicht City Farm. After that, he headed for the top of Table Mountain to prepare yellowtail crudo, thinly sliced fish with an acidic dressing that doesn't require any heat, as flames on the mountain are a no-no.

At an event before the airing of the first show, we asked him about his South African adventure during which he travelled some 10 000km over a period of seven weeks, with an extra five days spent in Lesotho. All well in line with his mantra: 'Live life, eat well, travel far'. 

This is what he had to say ...

Knysna Heads Knysna Heads

Favourite place?
Knysna (although he added that his answer does change every time he's asked).

'It reminded me of Shoal Bay (in New South Wales in Australia) and took me back to my childhood holidays. We stayed on Thesen Island, ate oysters, went surfing ... The lagoon is beautiful and if you get out to the Heads, it's wild and woolly.'

Most difficult location to film in?
Prieska threw a few curveballs at the film crew. This was the spot that Quinn went to learn how to make a proper lamb potjie (stew made in a cast-iron pot) from a local farmer.

'We stayed in an old farmhouse with 11 people and one toilet that would only flush with a bucket. While we were filming, a thunderstorm came up, we were flooded out and a windpomp (wind pump) blew over. It's isolated, like the Outback, with red dirt, small plants and sparse animal life.'

(Tip: tune into episode six to watch this part of the adventure.)

Prieska adventure Prieska adventure

Best surf spot?
In an earlier life, Quinn worked as a lifeguard and remains a keen surfer, so it's no wonder that he tried to squeeze in some time on the waves while doing his epic tour of the country. Surfers will be interested to hear he loved the right-hand break at Vic Bay, near George, which reminded him of a similar surf spot back home called Dee Why Point near Sydney.

'Vic Bay surprised me. When we first got there there were just tiny little waves with a few grommets (surfer speak for 'juniors') in the water. I was disappointed. Then all of a sudden the kids came in, we went out and the waves got huge.'

On top of Table Mountain On top of Table Mountain

Favourite city?
'I love Cape Town. It's so cosmopolitan and yet it is an African city. It's got surf, scenery, lovely restaurants and beautiful people.'

If you want to follow Hayden Quinn's adventures around South Africa, tune in to SABC 3 at 9.30pm on Monday nights, or 5pm on Sundays for the repeat shows (starting 27 July). You can also follow the conversation on the hashtag #HQSA.

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