Chuck & Danny’s Road Trip goes on a cross-country cookout

I always suspected Chuck Hughes and Danny Smiles would be fun dudes to hang out with. Sure, they’re serious chefs (at Garde Manger and Le Bremner), but when it was time to leave the kitchen behind I figured they’d be the first to grab a bottle of bière and sit around a campfire.

That’s exactly what you get from Chuck & Danny’s Road Trip—debuting Friday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada—a rip-roaring road six-episode vacation that sees the duo climb into an RV and travel the country connecting with the people who visit local farmers, chefs and entrepreneurs and create a meal for them. The debut instalment tracks the boys east of Toronto to Prince Edward and Hastings Counties, where they meet with Justin Cournoyer, owner/chef of Actinolite who shows them how to forage for natural ingredients like sumac, juniper and … crickets.

We got Hughes and Smiles on the phone to talk about the show, their experiences and who snores the loudest.

Danny, you and Chuck have been friends and co-workers for a long time, but how did the TV show come about?
Danny Smiles: I’ve had the opportunity to do previous road trips with Chuck in Newfoundland and Italy and we’ve had a lot of time to talk in the car. We developed this idea to do a show on the road, developed it, chose some places to go and then went with it.

Chuck Hughes: It’s something we wanted to do for a long time, and it was an opportunity to see the country and cook. The camping aspect of it and being outdoors in a setting completely different from where we cook in our restaurants was really interesting; to connect with nature and have a more primitive cooking experience. It’s not as controlled and is a little more authentic. It combines a lot of things we love and wanted to do.

In the debut, you cook a 43-pound chunk of beef on coals. If your timing is off, people are showing up for dinner and the meat isn’t done.
Chuck Hughes: Exactly. There is a TV aspect to a show and a real aspect to the show and that, for us, was a way to keep us honest because, yeah, you’re cooking a 43-pound roast for people coming over. We’ve never cooked a roast in that situation, so you trust you instincts and try to make it happen. We are outdoors and the sun will set eventually, so there is a whole bunch of pressure because of that. And, you’re cooking for the people who grow the food, harvest it, raise it and you want to really respect the product and make them happy with what you did with their food.

How did production work for filming last summer?
Chuck Hughes: We lived the RV lifestyle off and on. We would drive the RV from one location to the next, set up camp and cook. We got to live the real lifestyle and then go back to our real lives quickly and then come back. It was a great way to spend the summer and discover the country.

Could either one of you adopt that RV lifestyle?
Chuck Hughes: Yes, yes, yes. I’m trying to figure out a way to leave it all behind and do that.

You visited three national parks during Season 1. Which park was the most beautiful: Rouge National Urban Park, Fundy National or PEI National?
Danny Smiles: I have to say Fundy National. It was about 50 feet above sea level and you could see the whole Bay of Fundy when you woke up. It was pretty epic.

Chuck Hughes: Fundy was great but I have to say PEI National. We were cooking right there on the beach. PEI is a completely different world for sunsets. You’re on the beach, you just cooked a really big lobster boil and the sun is setting. It’s something you can’t describe; you just have to go to PEI and live it. I hope this show will inspire people to do exactly that. Go camping for a few days or just go to a park for the day.

Last question: who snored the loudest in the RV?
Chuck: Danny.

Chuck & Danny’s Road Trip airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.

Images courtesy of Corus.