MasterChef Australia star Hayden Quinn coming to Joburg

By admin
29 August 2013

The surfer proves he’s more than just a pretty face!

He may not have won the contest but it’s MasterChef Australia Season 3 participant Hayden Quinn who’s making the biggest splash in the food world.

When he was voted out of the hit series two years ago, he received huge support from South African fans and made the decision then and there that he had to visit this country.

Quinn – who holds a degree in marine biology ? will be one of the hottest attractions at the new-look Good Food & Wine Show which comes to the Coca-Cola dome in Johannesburg from 21 to 24 September.

The sexy surfer and chef is now one of Australia’s favourite new personalities. Hayden was crowned Cleo Bachelor of the Year last year and has a new book and TV show coming out soon. He also has a project he’d like to do in South Africa.

He answered some questions put to him prior to his visit:

Tell us who inspired you to get into the kitchen?

I grew up in the kitchen with my mom. She was a home economist; she’s since changed careers but is still better than me in the kitchen. I loved food, loved eating, and I was always very active so having good food was a massive driver for me to learn how to cook. From learning from mom in the kitchen at home to watching famous chefs such as [Brits] Jamie Oliver and Rick Stein on television I was always interested in food and keen to try as many foods and dishes as possible.

How would you describe your style of cooking?

Relaxed, fun, fresh, vibrant and sharing food that tells a story.

How has competing in MasterChef Australia changed your life?

A lot! It’s opened so many doors for me and enabled me to do something I love very much, from food (cookbooks, cooking shows), to travel (to places such as South Africa for the Good Food & Wine Show), to sport (Ironman commentator).

What is your stand-out moment from the series?

Oh, that’s a tricky question! The whole experience was pretty amazing but it was hard work! I was in the house for six months so it was a long time. But I think the stand-out moment for me was probably in my first cook-off in the MasterChef kitchen where I won the challenge and then went on to gain the immunity pin that really set me up for the series. And going to New York was incredible; I love that city and have spent plenty of time there in the past.

Are there any particularly memorable moments from the series that weren't captured on camera?

I think some of the times when we were just at the MasterChefhouse were special. Times we could just spend together and hang out and chat. I also enjoyed sneaking out the front garage and riding my skateboard around, reminded me of surfing. I guess the little things kept it interesting.

Throughout the competition you had some tough challenges – what was your worst and favourite challenge, and why?

Worst would have had to have been the challenge in the Qantas first-class kitchen. It was my first and only opportunity to captain a team and things did not go too well. I really love being a part of teams and feel I am a pretty good leader but this challenge was terrible! And yet another elimination for me! I was in 10 out of 11 eliminations, I think!

The best challenge for me was on Matt Moran’s farm; [it was] real cooking, cooking over an open fire, in the country, I guess similar to your braai cooking. It reminded me of camping and surf trips with mates where you cooked over hot coals.

What have you done since leaving the show – we believe that a TV show and book are in the pipeline; is this correct and can you tell us about them?

I’ve been a busy boy! Lots of amazing food, travels and sport-focused things. I love being able to share with people how important a healthy and balanced lifestyle is. I travelled last year to India and did a dinner for 200 Indian fans with [fellow MasterChef Season 3 contestant] Dani Venn at the Four Seasons Mumbai, it was an incredible experience. I also went to New York and did a little filming around part of the city I love. All the while I was working on my cookbook.

I’m also part of a new wine label which is about to launch in Australia called Kooks which is all about accessible, tasty wine which gives back to the community.

Were you surprised how many people around the world followed the show?

Sure was! It’s crazy to see the support from all over the world. I guess that’s due to the accessibility of social media etc but, for example, when I was eliminated from the show [and it aired] in South Africa, the tweets and Facebook posts that I received were incredible. Thanks, guys! It’s great to know that people have enjoyed the food we cooked and that our Australian character can touch people all over the world.

You’re a qualified marine biologist – do you see yourself using this degree in the future?

I use my degree every day. I think going to university is one of those things that has really set me up for life. I may not analyse the effects of CO2 on ocean acidification any more but I still have a huge passion for the protection of our oceans and having the degree under my belt has helped me a lot in understanding the importance of sustainable seafood and making sustainable seafood choices. I’m also in talks with a South African organisation around sustainable seafood which is looking like an exciting project so I can’t wait to talk more about that once we have it all locked in.

What’s happened to the surfing and lifeguarding?

What do you mean? They’re very much still there! I still surf frequently although I’m a lot busier these days and I also help out on the beach lifeguarding where and when I can. I’d worked for the lifeguard service for seven years before MasterChef so it’s not something I could easily leave. I was also the beach services coordinator so wasn’t just working on the beach.

Where do your food dreams still have to take you?

I have a lot of big dreams and plans for the future. I’m currently working on a big project which is going to take my passions and my loves to the world. For me it’s not only about food; food is just a part of my story. For me it’s much bigger; it’s about people, stories, health and wellness and of course about discovering more about our world. Watch this space!

What's the best culinary advice you've ever received?

There are a few: 1. Cook what you love to cook. 2. Don’t worry so much about measuring (unless you’re doing some crazy dessert). 3. Have a sharp knife!

Are you looking forward to your first visit to South Africa?

I can’t wait! I’m so pumped. One of the things I love about what I do, and what I have done all my life, is travel. And for me South Africa is one of those places I’ve always dreamt about visiting, for the surf (think surf movie The Endless Summer), for the wildlife, and of course for the people and the food. I love immersing myself in a country, a culture and sharing with others what I love, so I can’t wait to see what SA is all about.

What can visitors to the Johannesburg Good Food & Wine Show expect from you?

They can expect a lot of fun, some good stories and a heap of interaction with me. One thing I love about food shows is the ability to be face to face with people who love your food. Lots of questions, lots of chatting with the crowed and of course some fresh, tasty and simple recipes which I love to cook at home in Australia, and there might even be one or two from my new book, Dish It Up, which is going to be available in December this year. The Johannesburg Good Food & Wine Show takes place from 21 to 24 September at the Coca-Cola dome. Book at Computicket or go to WIN

  • Five double tickets are up for grabs to the Johannesburg Good Food & Wine Show, which takes place from 21 to 24 September at the Coca Cola dome.
  • Just answer this easy question: Which MasterChef Australia competitor from season 3 will visit the Johannesburg Good Food & Wine Show?Send your answer, name, address and telephone number to 34923. Entries close at 5 pm on 4 September. Each SMS costs R1,50.
- Loren Pienaar

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