Author Archives: Hayden Quinn

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So Long and Thanks for All the Fish!

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish!

That’s a reference from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by the way. I think it’s a great line, but that’s definitely not the only aspect of South Africa that I’m thankful for.

Through my trip, I’ve been to thirteen different regions, and each region has provided me with a countless number of memories and experiences.

 

And through all of these experiences I’ve noticed one common thread: the people. I love South Africans. Really!

I love how you guys have embraced me with open arms (literally!!!). I love how most of the friends I’ve made here have kept in touch with me, and will stay lifelong friends. I love how my local guides of each different region were my mentors, and teachers – and showed me a very special view of their surroundings. And helped me to understand South Africa as a whole. (All those languages can get a little tricky for a young Aussie lad!!!)

 

I love how everyone who is behind making this show a reality has left a special impact on me, and on the show. I love how the HQSA Team took a cooking show and made it into an adventure. And I love that everyone on this adventure has had their own set of thrills making Hayden Quinn South Africa come to life.

 

I’ve loved all of the cultures – and with them, the clothes, the colours, of course the food and the languages and the traditions. And when it comes to South African languages – let’s just say I’m a beginner!!! But I have felt so honoured by your patience at teaching me your languages, and being encouraging even when I messed them up. I’ve loved learning them, and I hope you have even more patience when I come back next, and try them out on you!!

 

So thank you!! Thank you all of you.

Thanks for watching, for reading, for liking and following and posting and sharing your own Hayden Quinn South Africa experiences. I’m so grateful, and so privileged to have been able to share this experience with you.

I cant wait to be back with you next year to do it all again! And I can’t wait to hear where you think I should visit next!

 

Dankie. Enkosi. Ngiyathokoza. Ke a leboga. Ke a leboha. Siyabonga. Inkomu. Ndo livhuwa. Ngiyabonga. Cheers!

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Hayden with his surf board

Sun’s Out, Surf’s Up!

I must say, Durban’s a place that suits me pretty well. There are more beaches than you can possibly surf in a week. There’s sun and warmth enough to wear thongs (flip flops), exclusively.

And then there’s the flavour that you look for when you want to spice things up.

 

It seemed a very appealing, and appropriate, destination in which to film our final episode of Hayden Quinn South Africa. Not to mention a fun one. We’d basically not even unpacked at the hotel before we headed off to the WaveHouse.

Here, some of the crew and I took our moment, and did final cheesy topless pose to mark our final episode (see below!!!). I could’ve stayed there all day – but I was dying to check out some cool cucumbers that I’d read about being grown, sustainably, in Durbs.

 

We headed to Qutom Farm, and it was great to see their use of solar panels, rainwater and other high tech techniques, that keep this farm green. And the cucumbers? They were pretty green too!
I headed into the city, to  Victoria Street Market. Here I learned how to recreate the ultimate bunny chow. To add a healthy twist to the meal, I whipped up a sambal salad (with my freshly picked cucumbers!). I then had to find the legends who were rumoured to live off bunny chow, while maintaining their perfect six packs: the lifeguards.

 

Having been a lifeguard myself, this was a really great experience for me. Though the lifeguard systems in South Africa and Australia are slightly different, the stories are similar – and so is the fitness!!! To keep in line with this, I prepared the lifeguards a tasty WWF SASSI Green List  hake curry. We shared it, swapped stories, and had a laugh along the way. The crew ate whatever was left after the scene was shot.

 

It was cooking!

 

Learning the ropes

Hayden preparing curry, behind the scenes

Getting hungry for some curry!

Hayden with the lifeguards

Feeling at home!

Hayden with his surf board

Surf’s up!

Hayden in Zulu attire

The Rhino Reality

I’ve always had a huge appreciation for the rhino. However, not being native to the African continent, I never fully understood just how dire the rhino poaching issue in South Africa was, until I saw it for myself. Through this scary reality of poaching, I saw die-hard positivity. I saw volunteers, organisations and funding to look after rhinos, assess stocks and better understand the risks to these amazing creatures. I saw people tracking and monitoring rhinos, from the ground to the air.

I was even lucky enough to meet up with these passionate people and get a hands on appreciation for what they do. I was inspired by these incredible men and women who work around the clock to protect one of South Africa’s biggest assets.

 

And when I saw these magnificent animals larger-than-life from the ground and small-and-distant from the air, I was hooked. Rhinos really shock you by their size, their beauty and even just by the way they move. And of course by the fact that they look like modern-day dinosaurs! I just love them.

That night our hosts at Ghost Mountain Inn treated the crew and me to a slap-up dinner. It was nice to be able to put the cameras away and to enjoy, especially after a long day of filming.

I moved from nature to culture, and explored the old set of the television series Shaka Zulu (which has just recently started a re-broadcast on SABC 3 prime time), and through this, got a taste for the Zulu culture. I even took part in stick-fighting! That was awesome (although my skills left a lot to be desired!). Apparently if you get married, the different warriors from each family fight to ‘get to know each other’. I loved that too.
It was so much fun, we wrapped it all up with a little bit of Zulu style dancing! (And wow – did the crew laughed at my clumsy attempt!)

 

Hayden and the Zulu Kingdom

I felt under-dressed.

Hayden in Zulu attire

My friend over there was calling me pasty – what!!

Hayden and Etienne in the helicopter

Guardians in the sky

Hayden experiencing rhino conservation

Rhino watch.

Hayden in a helicopter

Co-piloting

Hayden and the cows

Midlands – Everything You Want

The Midlands is one of those places that you want to be your most excited, and child-like self.

There’s so much natural beauty around that you just have to stop along the side of the road and have a swim in the rapids (which is exactly what I did!).

 

I wanted to go to markets, hand-pick new supplies, and get the chance to hear the stories behind the food. To me a local market is the best place to get a feel for the food and people in the local area. They are filled with great snacks and people – both with their own stories to share.
I wanted to visit cows, milk them, call them my girlfriends, and then make the ultimate No Churn Ice Cream from their cream. I wanted to put that ice cream on top of a sugar cone, with crumbled honeycomb on top of my dish, and eat it right next to the cows’ paddocks.
I wanted to meet up with my new celeb chef of a friend, and I wanted her to join us on a hot air balloon experience of a lifetime! I wanted to pick the leaves off trees as my hot air balloon floated past trees. I wanted to the basket to touch the water, and to feel thrilled by this.

 

I then want to learn new dishes, tricks and tactics from my new cooking friend and I wanted to joke about her hatred of wooden spoons.

 

Midlands is the type of place that takes things that you want to do and makes them possible. It’s a place that you want to do the most of everything: to feel the people, the nature, the surroundings, the culture, and of course to taste the food. I wanted to experience the Midlands in the most real – and complete way as possible – and I got the best of it.

 

Hayden next to rapids

A quick dip

Hayden and the crew swim

The crew swims too!

Hayden milking a cow

Milking a cow – almost like a pro

The girls and me

Hayden and the cows

The girls and me.

Dairy cows

Dairy cows

Ice cream ingredients

I’m the ice cream man!!

Behind the scenes crew in the hot air balloon

Floating behind the scenes

Hot air balloon

Up!

Hayden Quinn in Lesotho!

Call Me Hayden “The Hobbit” Quinn

Let’s just say that my experience of Lesotho was pretty flipping similar to the first time when I read The Hobbit. Mountains? Check. Clouds? Check. Mysterious body of water? Check. Hobbit? Me. Check. Cooking on the road? Check.

And let me just say, the more I think about it, the more I fitted the role of The Hobbit’s “burglar” Bilbo. Like in The Hobbit, we travelled by horseback (on Basotho ponies). Similar to Bilbo, I was the hungry one, longing for food. All the time.

 

The treasure? Rose’s cooking. And experiencing a Basotho meal with her, and her home-grown veggies.

My first adventure as burglar Bilbo was to find Rose. On a pony. In a blanket (pig in a blanket anyone?!). With a Basotho hat. And I found her!
Like Bilbo and his burglar flaws, my messy flaws were exposed in helping Rose cook – and she decided that I was a messy cook – because I left my spoon everywhere but in the bowl!!!

 

Luckily, my spoon habits had nothing to do with the outcome of the meal – which was delicious.  Learning from Rose and spending time in her village was a special moment for me. It was great to see her friends, family, and neighbours going about their life. The fun and smiles that the kids shared with me and the whole crew was really a highlight for me. I’m going to take those memories with me for ever.

So that was my first adventure.
My next adventure in the Kingdom in the Sky (even the name sounds like The Hobbit!) took me to the banks of the Katse Dam. I conquered dam walls, rowed determinedly on the water, and made it to the Katse Fish Farm, in time to catch me some dinner.
Hunger-driven, I braved a broken jetty (haha it really was quite tretcherous! The lengths you go for a beautiful shot!), and prepared the tastiest trout fresh from the Katse Reservoir. And boy, it was tasty. We had reached the treasure, and the adventures were to come to an end….in Lesotho.
All in all, it was a surreal, breath-taking and amazing experience.

 

 

Beautiful mountain pass of Lesotho

Stunning

Hayden riding a pony

Call me Bilbo!

The traditional Basotho outfit - how awesome is the blanket that I'm wearing?

The traditional Basotho outfit – how awesome is the blanket that I’m wearing?!!

Hayden and team on ponies

Trekking to Rose

Hayden and Rose in the Midlands

Rose, and the messy cook.

Sotho kids admiring the camera shots.

Brad showing the kids how it’s done!

Hayden and his guides at the Katse Fish Farm

At the Katse Fish Farm

Freshly caught trout

Trout time!

Hayden cooking on a jetty, on the banks of the Katse Dam

The rickety jetty – and the Katse dam.

Hayden cooking on top of the Randlord's building in Jozi

Sharp-sharp, Soweto!

 
Okay guys let me introduce you to my favourite South African word: “sharp”. As in, “sharp-sharp!” meaning hello, goodbye, or just to show you’re amped for something – especially if you’re bordering on the same excitement levels that I was when we visited Soweto.

And yes. Soweto is one of the sharpest places in SA if you ask me!!!

I met with Lebo, of Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers, and we cruised around Soweto by bike. Now, if you’re ever in Jo’burg and have a couple of hours free – Soweto’s where it’s at. I mean even the old cooling towers had been jazzed up to fit the vibe and display the passions of the people of Soweto! Lebo took to me to Vilakazi Street, which is probably the most inspirational street in the world. Honestly, how can one street have been the home of two Nobel Laureates?!
We also passed kids playing soccer, shabeens, and loads of little restaurants and bars. Seeing all of this I felt extremely honoured to be shown around by one of Soweto’s very own.
I felt part of it.

From the inner-city Soweto to the outskirts of Jozi I continued to feel part of it when we visited the Swartkop Valley Primary Farm School, who form part of the EduPlant project. They grow their own food, with a basis on permaculture, and of course educate – not only the children – but also the local community so that they can use the skills of growing their own food at home. It was so great to see how keen some of the kids were at gardening. We used their skills (and their carrots), and threw together an awesome chicken mayo and salad sarmie (love that word!!!). haha and there were smiles all round!

To top it off, I was run off my feet by the kids in an epic soccer game. Haha!!!

 

Behind the camera photo

Lights…camera…I think you know where I’m going with this.

Hayden cooking on top of the Randlord's building in Jozi

Hi…high….heights!

Hayden poses with Chef Khumalo

Chef Khumalo and I

Food preparation

Yummy!

View of Johannesburg

Look at this beauty!

Hayden drinking a beer with the locals

These quarts’s mean business – enjoying a cold one in Soweto

Hayden crawling like a leopard

Leopards Never Change Their Spots

Leopards never change their spots.

It’s a saying, but seriously. Why would they? Their spots are gorgeous. Spotting a spotted leopard (redundant?) in their local spot was such a privilege. Even if it was only on a computer screen, just to know that these majestic animals are roaming the same paths and valleys and veld that we too can walk is a pretty special thing. As was Dr Quinton Martins’ knowledge on my favourite member of the Big Five (like when he pointed out that most spots on a leopard are in fact rosettes, not spots! Who knew?!). The expanse over which these animals roam, to me was incredible. It just brings to light how much of an impact we as humans have on their lives.

Hayden crawling like a leopard

Leopard crawll. Not even joking!!

Hayden looking at the leopard footage.

Looking at the leopard footage.

From my leopard crawling in the Gamkaberg Nature Reserve, we drove on to Prince Albert via the Swartberg Pass. And boy – is that pass impressive! I mean, it was built over a century ago, one of the longest walls is apparently 2,4km(!!!). The pass is still used today, and being a bit of a mountain pass lover haha I can safely say (‘scuse the pun) that this road, even though it is all dirt and gravel is really really well kempt and to me very safe; the hardest part is keeping your eyes on the road for all the incredible views!. I know it probably sounds mad to those of you who haven’t driven it before – but for those of you who have, you get it, right?! It really was an awesome part of our long drive north to Priska and its madness that that sort of pass exists, let alone has existed that way for over a century…!

 

The next day we headed for Prieska. At first, I thought – snap. It’s South Africa’s outback. But the next thing we were cooking a potjie with spice combinations I wasn’t even allowed to know, swimming in a pool with dogs, admiring Damara sheep (they have quite peculiar tails!!! Sheep in Aus don’t have tails), and listening to an accordionist! Oh, and the windpump broke (did you see that!!!).

Potjie pot

Potjie time!

Hennie and Hayden standing in front of a windpump

Hennie and me, making a potjie

That’s when I realised, we were definitely, definitely not in the Outback. It may look the same, and it may be filled with similar characters but all these characters had a different story to tell.
And that bizarre, crazy fun day really epitomised my trip so far. It showed me that when you’re inundated with culture and experience – well that’s just the beginning of it; you can become so overwhelmed and pleasantly surprised when traveling that you end up eating a potjie, listening to an accordionist, and about to be hailed on in the middle of nowhere in Prieska. And that that’s not only okay – but you couldn’t imagine anything better.

Sky, sunset and clouds

How beautiful?!

An elderly man playing the accordion

Oom Piet the accordionist

This is why I love travel, this is why I love food, and these are the reasons that I am falling in love with South Africa.

Crew in front of a sunflower field.

Crew, just chilling!

Sunflower

Sunny.

 

Timone and Pumba

Timone, Is That You?

Between Elton John, Simba, and Timone and Pumba, I feel that Lion King was a pretty solid movie to grow up on.

And in Australia, we have very different wildlife – and so a lot of the animals from the Lion King seemed out-of-this-world, and kid-me was suspicious. Did all of those animals even exist? I mean, emus are close enough to ostriches, so I understand that one. But even at a stretch a wombat is distinctively different from a warthog. I don’t think I was ever completely convinced that these animals were legit. So you can imagine my boy-like excitement when I went on A MEERKAT TOUR in Oudsthoorn.

 

Timone and Pumba

Look at these guys!

I was completely blown away. These guys are one of my favourite anaimals!!!! I love them!!!!! Pumped!!

 

Once I’d taken a meerkat selfie or two (did I mention how awesome those little guys are?!) we headed on to make a scrumptious ostrich egg frittata for brekkie.

I was really intruigued by ostritch farming – it seems to be the way forward, in every respect. Firstly, the eggs are massive. (And the frittata we made was super tasty. What a great way to make an egg dish without cracking millions of eggs! And packed full of goodness!) Then there’s the meat – it tastes like fillet, nice and lean and super tasty! And that’s just food-wise. Their skins and feathers are also used. Which means that each bird is used in every way possible; I like that.

 

I was feeling good, full and hot.

 

Luckily the Cango Caves cooled me right down. Except for the part where I was between a (literal) rock and a hard place (claustrophobia heaven, if you ask me!!!). All in all, it was a cavernous, awesome experience!

Klein Karoo landscape

How beautiful is this landscape!?

Hayden throwing an ostrich egg

What do you mean it’s fragile?!

Cango Caves

The Cango Caves

Hayden and a chef in a Karoo styled kitchen

Me and Alister in the Karoo-style kitchen

Tomatoes in a bowl

Fresh to death!

Ostrich steak on a board

Look at this steak!

Ostrich egg and steak frittata

Look at this frittata!

Behind the scenes of Hayden cooking

Look where I got to cook! (Shirt on the left – pink, right?)



Stand Up Paddle.

Nice One, Knysna

Nice One, Knysna

Okay South Africa, I know you don’t like to be compared to the rest of the world because you’re special, you’re different, and you’re proud of it. And rightly so.

But I must just say Knysna has the same sick coastal vibe as the Gold Coast (on the east coast of Australia).

Stand Up Paddle.

SUP

And destinations like Knysna lend to my favourite type of holidays with boats, canals, water sports – and great food. And speaking of which, this is the same town that introduced me to the likes of Ile de Pain

 

I cooked with Ile de Pain’s owners (Liezie and Markus – it was really a pleasure you two!) and really digged the smoky taste that the wood-fire oven gave the flatbread.

 

Hayden, Liezl and Markus cooking

The Ile de Pain owners: Liezl and Markus, and me

And that was just the first taste of my epic Garden Route experience.

Knysna’s only flaw is that it doesn’t have itself a proper beach – but with Vic Bay just around the corner it’s hardly a drawback. Markus and I went for a fresh surf at this sheltered spot (not from the locals, or tourists in season!). And boy, was the surf cooking.

 

We headed to the Tsitsikamma forest where I learned about the massive, ancient yellowwoods, and then ZIP LINED THROUGH THEM!!!!! I mean, being the brave – macho and fearless guy that I am…well. It’s a bit different when it comes to heights! But when I was there, while I was looking over the canopies, I couldn’t have been happier.

 

About to zip-line through the trees!

About to zip-line through the trees!

Flower in the Tsitsikamma

In the Tsitsikamma Forest

We went on to prepare an oyster dish, and I slipped the (responsibly farmed) oysters down. And yeah, they really hit the spot.

Knysna team cheers!

Cheers!

Oysters

Oysters – yum!

Hayden Quinn in a pink shirt

Hermanus Has It All

Hermanus really does have it all, doesn’t it? I mean, you see it as soon as you drive into the town. On the left, the Walker Bay vineyards. (Again. How many vineyards can one country have?! I don’t know how you all don’t drink wine all the time.) On the right, ocean.

In the middle, that small town vibe you come to love about Hermanus.

 

And on top of this all, just outside of Hermanus is the Klein River: a jaw-shatteringly pretty and quaint river. And I was supposed to cook there?! Luckily, I had renowned Stanford cook – Mariana Esterhuizen – who knew the river like the back of her hand, and could take me through her delicious duck breast dish.

Hayden Quinn boarding a River Rat pontoon

Come aboard the River Rat!

Hayden Quinn and local cook, in front of a river

Me and Mariana, on the Klein River

After polishing off my Spiced Apple and Meringue Eton Mess, we headed back to town, and I bought whale postcards that I hoped I could use as fake proof that I spotted some spouters. (In the Whale Watching Capital of the World, why am I the only one who didn’t spot a whale?! We even went back in Whale season and I still didn’t see any!!!!)

I also had a chance to explore the shoreline. I even braved a morning swim in the tidal pool in front of our hotel, signing off with a girly squeal as I jumped in – it was fresh!!!!. The day was overcast and the water was grey – but that only made the mountainous shoreline even more dramatic.

Hayden cooking on the Walker Bay coast

Being a coastal cook

And yes, Lars (the show’s director) forced me into a pink t-shirt.

A really tight, really pink one which he now happily owns. It did match the beautiful protea flowers of Gaansbaai, but still…that one had to stay in SA!!!!

Hayden Quinn in a pink shirt

How pink is this shirt???