Why Chuck Hughes is Going Family-Friendly this Summer

Chuck Hughes squashes classic celeb chef stereotypes this summer to headline Canada's first-ever Big Feastival, a festival that focuses on family fun. We sat down with Hughes as the first season of his latest Food Network show Chuck & Danny's Road Trip wraps.


How did your partnership with The Big Feastival come about?

I was approached by the organizers and the timing was perfect. I had just finished a road trip where there was a lot of camping, which I have always loved to do. It also fits where I am in my life right now – with my two small kids. It’s like a great big party for my generation. 

Were you involved with The Big Feastival chef lineup?

I recommended some of my friends and they already had some chefs lined up. It really has been a collaboration with the organizers. We wanted to reach out to chefs who are in the same state of mind – chefs with young kids so they can have fun and bring their families.

Can you offer any teasers about the chef demos/workshops we can expect?

We are sticking to the same themes as the UK festival; low/zero sugar, no processed food, fresh food – not refined. All our food related activities are around healthy, great food. From learning how to forage, to how to preserve. Amy Bourque will be doing a camp side breakfast demo. Kids will be pulling veggies from the garden and then going into the kitchen to whip up a recipe with a chef. They will also be learning how to make bread as well as butter.

You've previously been involved with Osheaga. Any learnings you'll take from that experience to The Big Feastival?

It is really different at Osheaga. There, we feed 3000 people a day. The mandate for The Big Feastival is completely different. It is all about families coming together – to camp, to listen to good music and to eat and learn about some great healthy foods.

Some of the most iconic summer festival foods are the most processed. What do you think needs to change for summer fests and fairs to embrace fresher, unprocessed offerings?

Well I think that people can obviously do and eat what they want. What we are offering at Big Feastival is a different type of festival from the usual summer events. I’m hoping that we can inspire people and get them to buy into what we are selling – which is fresh, unprocessed delicious food.

Kids might be the most difficult critics to get on board. Do you think it'll be a challenge for some families to tell their kids they can't get their sodas or sugary snacks at The Big Feastival?

It is all about education and getting them excited about real food. There is also going to be many very cool activities that will connect them to the food they are eating. And you have to remember good food tastes good as well, so I don’t see a problem.

Your latest Food Network show Chuck & Danny's Road Trip just finished airing earlier this month. What was the biggest challenge of putting the show together?

Getting the ingredients that we really wanted while filming. In the beginning of the day we would be thinking of a recipe with a salmon, but then once out on the boat filming, we only got a cod. Nothing wrong with a cod but we had to rearrange on the fly and figure out how to cook and feed all the people. It was a challenge but as cooks it was a challenge we loved. It kept us more honest and is the way, I think, we should eat more and more.

Which destination left the biggest impression on you?

Probably Salt Spring Island in BC. It was my first time being there and was truly a unique spot. Even just going there we saw some whales, so that set the tone.

You've mentioned that the Food Network wanted Road Trip to be more food-centric and less about competition. Do you think food TV is, or should be, heading more in this direction?

When I run into people that is what they are always asking me – when can they see more recipe cooking shows on TV. For me it is the type of TV show I want to do – discovering amazing delicious ingredients and cooking them.

Will there be a second road trip?

We hope so! Keep watching.

Stream the first season of Chuck and Danny's Road Trip online here and catch Chuck Hughes at The Big Feastival from August 18-20.