Dan and Hayden on TLC

PENMAN - Patricia Esteves - The Philippine Star
Dan and Hayden on TLC
Dan Churchill and Hayden Quinn, hosts of Surfing the Menu: Next Generation, pose on Bargara Beach in Queensland, Australia. Dan and Hayden say their show highlights Australia’s natural beauty and charms, aside from displaying their cooking and surfing prowess.

MANILA, Philippines – “We’d like Filipinos to try a kangaroo dish. They’d love it,” Australian chefs Dan Churchill and Hayden Quinn, hosts of the new TLC series Surfing the Menu: Next Generation, said during an exclusive phone interview with The STAR recently.

Surfing the Menu: Next Generation, a part-travel, part-cooking show, will have its Philippine premiere on Nov. 7 at 9 p.m. on TLC. But prior to the premiere, Dan and Hayden will both visit Manila to grace the TLC festival on Nov. 5 at Bonifacio High Street in Taguig.

In the series, Hayden and Dan chronicle their adventures, highlighting Australia’s beautiful landscapes, local produce and interesting characters as they travel around Australia in an old VW beetle they charmingly named Gigi.

One of their travels brought them to a place where they met an indigenous Australian who taught them how to cook a sumptuous kangaroo tail.

The kangaroo is a cultural peculiarity in Australia, adorning both the national emblem and dinner plates across Sydney.

“We love kangaroos, I mean to say they’re actually a pest, but we love them. Obviously, they’re in our national coat of arms, and they taste great, they’re very good for you,” Dan said.

The indigenous man took Hayden and Dan to a sacred place where his ancestors and his tribe were well established, and taught them about the land of Australia and how they pay respect to the motherland.

“And then he also honored us by allowing us to learn how to cook the kangaroo tail, and it was effectively cooked in the ground,” Dan said.

“And Hayden and I both had such an amazing experience, you know, being able to, obviously, be there on that land. Two boys from the city of Sydney to be in this sacred place and eating this really well-cooked but simply done kangaroo tail, it tasted really good,” he added.

Hayden agreed, saying kangaroo is one of his favorite dishes and would definitely urged Filipinos to try it the first time or the next time they visit Australia.

“It’s ecologically sound, it’s tasty, it’s healthy; all those things that Dan said. So any Filipinos coming to Australia, they need to try it out,” Hayden said.

If there’s one thing that Dan and Hayden would like to highlight in their show is that they’d like viewers to see that there’s so much to see and explore in Australia other than the usual tourist spots of Sydney Opera House and the Bondi Beach.

“When we look at Surfing the Menu, it’s all about a journey, it’s all about a road trip; it’s about getting out there and experiencing Australia, it’s about experiencing the world, and doing that through the eyes of everyone,” Hayden said.

Over the 13-part series, they travel to Noosa, visit the indigenous community in Beswick, near Katherine, snorkel in the Ningaloo and Great Barrier reefs, fly a gyrocopter in Bryon Bay in New South Wales, do a four-wheel drive in the desert, head to the outback cattle station, and baske in the ocean-lover’s playground that is Exmouth in Western Australia. And they surf as much as they can and after that, they cook delicious meals.

Dan and Hayden, both in their 20s, hail from Sydney’s Northern Beaches and are both MasterChef alumnis.

For them, surfing and eating have always been linked, especially in Australia, where they grew up doing these things.

“You know, for me, when I was growing up, I’d go surfing.  As a young kid, I’d spend all day in the water, surf all day. And then, after surfing, there’s nothing better than getting down and having an incredible meal, whether it’d be the simplest sandwich or an amazing dinner cooked by your mum, food and surfing is — I think, intrinsically linked. You know, we all love eating fish, we love picnicking by the ocean, we love swimming in the ocean, we love surfing and to be able to then come back and cook an amazing meal,” Hayden said.

In the show, the hosts are funny and convivial, and both credit their natural joviality on the set to their good on-and off-screen rapport.

“I think for both of us, we share similar values and that’s very important. We both love Australia, we love our food, we love our family and, most importantly of all, I think we love sharing stories about some of the most incredible Australians you can meet in Surfing the Menu, and to be able to have that similar connection,” Hayden said.

Both are already excited to visit Manila for the first time.

Hayden said he’s always been interested in the Philippines because of his good friend, a half-Filipino, half-Australian chef named Dominic who always regales him with stories about the Philippines and a delicious Filipino food staple called sinigang.

“I’m super excited to get to the Philippines and check it out and understand where he’s from and, you know, try his favorite — the hot and sour soup. And yeah obviously Philippines, like Australia, is a beautiful island nation, so I’m looking forward to seeing some of the islands and the beaches, and, obviously, just meeting the people,” Hayden said.

For those who are not professional chefs, Dan and Hayden share tips on how to cook simple, but delicious dishes.

“First, get three ingredients that are local. We know that in Asia, you guys cook with a lot of greens and vegetables. You can stir-fry them with sauces,” Dan said.

Hayden, for his part, said it's always best always incorporate fresh vegetables in the menu.

“You can use a little bit of soy sauce, some chilli, maybe some protein, and serve it with some rice. You know, that’s quick and easy and you really don’t need much skill to cook it,” he said.

Dan’s cooking tip: Have a wok and stir fry some vegetables and protein.

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