Last night’s episode 10 of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa‘ showed Hayden Quinn leaving South Africa, and visiting the beautiful Lesotho, ‘Kingdom in the Sky‘, southernmost land-locked country in Africa, and completely surrounded by South Africa. The content of the episode was motivated by the Katse Fish Farms, which grows trout in Lesotho, a supplier to Woolworths in a production process which is linked to the company’s sister operation Three-Streams Smokehouse in Franschhoek. Content-wise it was the thinnest episode, both in terms of little meaningful information provided, and even in terms of the few TV commercials flighted!
Hayden was seen on a horse in a traditional BaSotho outfit, with a blanket wrapped around him and wearing a BaSotho hat. It was explained to him that Lesotho is 3800 meters above sealevel, its lowest regions still being higher than South Africa, and therefore the locals keep warm by wrapping the blankets around them. About three-quarters of the country is rural.
In a village near the Katse Dam, Hayden met Rose Lekhoakhoa, a teacher and cook, who grows vegetables in her garden in what was described as a ‘self-sustaining village’. She showed Hayden how to make a typical BaSotho meal of ‘Morogo’ (sic – from the ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’ Facebook page, one of many spelling errors made by the writers of the local production team) with green pumpkin, pap (cooked maizemeal), sorghum, and sugar beans. It was Hayden’s task to pull strings from the Marogo leaves, making them look like thin celery strips, then having to chop the leaves. Rose made him redo it, so that the spinach-like leaves could be even smaller. One could clearly see that Hayden is left-handed. The sorghum was cooked for 3 minutes, then the sugar beans were added, with salt, and olive oil.
Hayden walked on the wall of the Katse Dam, being the highest dam in Africa, with a wall of 710 meters, and a drop of 185 meters, clearly rattling Hayden, who we know suffers from a fear of heights. The dam supplies water to Johannesburg, and 72% of Lesotho’s hydro-electric power via the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. Near the dam was a former dam engineers’ village, which has been turned into self-catering accommodation, its quality far below that of Hayden’s previous accommodation, euphemistically described by Hayden as ‘a simplistic escape‘ and having ‘old-world charm‘! Hayden met Moitheri Manyeli, the Public Relations Assistant of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.
Hayden then met James Thompson, who was part of the South African team which won a Gold Medal in the Men’s Lightweight Coxless Four in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, and they went rowing. James said he loves rowing in Lesotho, due to its clean air and clean water.
Hayden was introduced to Greg Stubbs, the founder of the Katse Fish Farm, a leader in aquaculture in helping to relieve the pressure on the availability of seafood. In a complicated production process the trout eggs are imported from America and Denmark, spend three months in the Three-Streams Smokehouse hatchery in Franschhoek, belonging to Stubb’s company too, and then transported to the Lesotho Highlands, where they grow in ‘pens’. The local Ha Lejone community receives royalties from the Katse Fish Farm. Once the trout reaches a certain size, it returns to Franschhoek, where it is smoked, and then packed as the Royale Highlands Trout brand for Woolworths. I have visited the Franschhoek factory, which is a very busy well-run operation one would not know about if one did not have the opportunity to visit it.
Hayden prepared a delicious-looking dish of trout fresh from the dam, into which he stuffed slices of lemon, fresh dill, salt, black pepper, drizzled both sides with olive oil, and then grilled it in a hot pan. He made a warm potato salad, mashing the cooked potatoes, and adding crème fraîche and pickled onions. A side dish of broccoli and asparagus was served with the trout, Greg and his colleague enjoying the meal with Hayden.
It was interesting to be reminded about the importance of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, for which the Katse Dam was the first to be completed sixteen years ago, not only for its valuable water supply to Gauteng, but also for its role in growing superb tasting and quality sustainable trout for local consumption.
The question remains: who is Hayden Quinn, and why was he selected by the production company on behalf of Woolworths to show us the beauty of our country, and its bounty of sustainable foods and wines? Hayden Quinn is an Australian surfer and former professional lifeguard, ‘WWF-SASSI ambassador’, a ‘cooker’ and by his own admission not a chef, and a 2011 MasterChef Australia top 3 Finalist.
We have also asked why Woolworths is not sharing its sponsorship of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’ via marketing collateral in its stores. Episode 1 of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’ focused on Cape Town, and made Capetonians proud of their city! Episode 2 was very disappointing and boring, focusing on Stellenbosch! Episode 3 was beautifully filmed in Paternoster, and was back on track. Episode 4 was filmed in Franschhoek, which creatively included Fairview into the village! Episode 5 was filmed in Elgin, Hermanus, and Stanford. Episode 6 was filmed in Knysna. Episode 7 was based in Oudtshoorn. Episode 8 was set in the steaming hot Karoo. In episode 9 Hayden explored colourful Johannesburg and Soweto.