Classically-trained chef Dan Hayes and Cree bush cook Art Napoleon have touched down in the Bella Coola Valley to begin filming their hit TV show, Moosemeat & Marmalade.
Produced by B.C.-based Mooswa Films, the show is now filming for its sixth season on APTN and is a popular food documentary series that follows the duo’s globetrotting adventures and antics.
The crew arrived in Bella Coola during the weekend to begin filming Monday, which will continue until May 17. The cast will be returning to the area again later this summer to film in Tsilhqot’in territory.
Moosemeat & Marmalade focuses on the oil and water relationship, but also close friendship, shared between Hayes and Napoleon who, despite coming from completely different backgrounds, have discovered they actually share a lot in common as they explore each other’s culture through cooking, food and camaraderie.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges, season six marks a new adventure for the cast and crew as they forego their usual around-the-world adventures in favour of staying and exploring as local as possible.
The new season will chronicle scenic stops across Western and Central Canada as Hayes and Napoleon visit several Indigenous communities to shine a light on the vast expanse of different Indigenous food and culture to be experienced.
“We can’t wait to be back for another season of Moosemeat & Marmalade and we’re grateful to our loyal fans and partners who have been so supportive of this show through the years — especially now, through a pandemic,” said Napoleon.
“We’ve travelled all around the world over the last six seasons, but what many people don’t realize is that each tribe brings its own unique culture and food to the table. Filming in Canada will give us the chance to delve into inter-tribalism, multiculturalism and Indigenous diversity, all while connecting everything back to delicious food wherever we go.”
The Tsilhqot’in territory filming will stretch from Sept. 2-11 at a to-be-determined location.
When he spoke to the Coast Mountain News, Hayes, who was born and raised in London, England but now lives in Victoria, B.C. said he was so excited to be visiting and meeting the people in Bella Coola and, later, the Chilcotin.
“I’ve never been to Bella Coola, but I’ve got some family members and they were locum doctors there for a few years, so I am a bit familiar with the area,” Hayes said. “I’ve spent lots of time in Terrace, Smithers, Tahltan country, but never Bella Coola.”
Hayes said he loves visiting small communities and, in particular, small, Indigenous communities.
Hayes and his wife, Micayla, own a business called the London Chef — a culinary school in Victoria — and escaping to film for the show sometimes feels like a holiday, he joked.
“I feel very at home, and I find I have so much in common with so many of the people there I love it straight away.”
Hayes said his diet centres around wild game, so he finds he has that connection with Indigenous people.
“It’s always so lovely to hear some of the Elders and their stories, lifestyles and all the rest of it.”
Hayes met Napoleon roughly 10 years ago while catering during the filming of another APTN children’s show called Tiga Talk!, where Napoleon was one of the characters.
“He was walking along getting his garlic bread and lasagna and we started chatting about hunting somehow … he had a prop rifle on his shoulder. The executive producer was standing behind him and heard us chatting about growing up hunting. Art comes from the West Moberly First Nation (in Northern B.C.), and I come from a boarding school in southern England.”
While growing up in very different environments, the similarities between the two stood out to one another.
“We both grew up with a .22 over our shoulder, a couple bullets in our pocket and walking out into the woods to explore,” he said. “And now we’re excellent friends. We hang out together, we hunt together, we share meals together … and that connection all started over hunting.”
In Moosemeat & Marmalade, Hayes explained the vast majority of episodes focus on fishing, foraging, hunting, along with visiting small, local, organic farms.
“That might mean prying an oyster off a rock or shooting a 2,000-pound bull moose,” he said.
“But what we really focus on is taking sustenance from nature and trying to do it in the most ethical way and as conservation-minded as possible.”
He said he loves learning the nuances of hunting, fishing and foraging while visiting different communities, and learning about environmental issues.
Through the show, he said the pair also tries to encourage young people to get outdoors into nature, and promote habitat and wildlife conservation.
“It doesn’t matter your background, race, religion — we try to get young people out harvesting nature and to realize how accessible it is.
“I feel strongly like: if you don’t see it, you have no reason to protect it. That to me is the big thing.”
Season six will premier on APTN in the spring of 2022 across Canada.