Sun, surf and cooking
The hosts of Surfing The Menu are getting paid to do their hobby
These two Australians probably have the best job in the world.
After all, how often does one get paid to do your hobby?
For Hayden Quinn and Dan Churchill, their work entitles them to eat, surf and travel.
It means they also have to cook, but that's a piece of cake for the former contestants of popular reality TV cooking series MasterChef Australia.
They were even hailed as the show's poster boys - Quinn, 29, appeared on it in 2011 while Churchill, 26, participated in 2013.
Both alumni are now fronting colourful travel cooking series Surfing The Menu: New Generation, which airs on TLC (Singtel TV Ch 254/StarHub TV Ch 427) every Monday at 9pm.
The 13-episode show sees the buddies taking a road trip around Australia in a 50-year-old VW beetle named Gigi, highlighting the country's finest landscapes, local produce and interesting characters.
Quinn and Churchill are following in the footsteps of fellow Australians Curtis Stone and Ben O'Donoghue, who fronted the show's first incarnation from 2003 to 2006.
Surfing The Menu became a launching pad for Stone's culinary career, as he's now an award-winning celebrity chef in the US and opened his restaurant Maude in Los Angeles in 2014.
"To be given this opportunity to take over the mantle from Curtis and Ben is such a privilege," Quinn told M over the phone from Sydney last week.
Added Churchill: "Yes, it's so exciting for us to be part of the show. We respect Curtis and Ben so much, but obviously we want to stand out on our own."
Said Quinn: "I'd be lying if I'm not blown away by what Curtis is doing in the US. His career skyrocketed after hosting Surfing The Menu, and to be able to have his career would be great.
"But what we created in this show is our own... Maybe some day we'll be able to open a restaurant in Asia."
New Generation's format sees the guys catching some waves and trying out beach sports, such as kiteboarding.
"We grew up in this beautiful part of Sydney close to the beach, so being by the sea is part of our lives. I've been surfing longer than I have been cooking (professionally)," said Quinn, a former beach lifeguard.
Said Churchill: "Surfing and cooking are very much the forefront of what we do... It has been our lifestyle, though I must say Hayden is a much better surfer than I am."
Quinn said: "I think both go very well together. Surfing makes us very hungry, so we'd be cooking up a feast after surfing."
The blond hunk loved being part of the ocean so much that he pursued a degree in marine biology, which he said was put to good use when he started cooking.
"Knowledge of seafood and its ecology became very important when I cooked and developed recipes. I knew how to choose the freshest seafood, when's the best season and how to source them locally," said Quinn.
Despite their voracious appetites, the duo are probably the most buff chefs you'll ever see on TV.
"Both of us have a good knowledge of what is healthy for our bodies," said Churchill, who holds a master's degree in exercise science.
"We eat things that are nourishing, and we are also very active."
Quinn said: "We're both young, energetic guys, and we're constantly moving during the shoot.
"And when we are not, we'd be running or skipping... Exercise keeps us focused and lets us eat a lot of yummy food."
Quinn recounted their trip to Katherine, a town in the Northern Territory, where they got to learn about indigenous Australian culture. The food there was an eye-opener, especially for a city boy like him.
For Churchill, the episode where they were in northern Queensland was "very special and emotional" for him as it brought three generations of his family together.
While the guys hope they can eventually explore other countries known for their surfing culture, both are extremely contented with their current gig.
Said Churchill: "To be able to throw our surfboards on top of Gigi, drive around Australia and cook with some of the best local produce sums up what we love. This is our life."