By AIDAN RASMUSSEN
New Ice As presenter Ian Hughes — or rather Hugh Sundae — has only one thing on his mind as he waits patiently at his cafe table: chicken wings.
"You know how good these chicken wings look," he says as they're placed in front of him. "I know for a fact that they came out of the fridge on a plastic tray with plastic wrap on them — precooked — and were put in the microwave for a minute and a half and then put in a pan and grilled for about two minutes. And the satay sauce was dolloped out of a huge jar," he says as he devours a miniature drumstick.
The 22-year-old pilot and sometime bFM breakfast host is well versed in the intricacies of making chicken wings at a Queen St cafe. He worked in the kitchen, at the counter and as a waiter for a year while training for his pilot's licence after finishing at bFM.
Hughes became breakfast host at the student radio station while in his seventh-form year at Rangitoto College. Even though he was given special dispensation to start school at 11 am, he quit classes after only three days on the job.
It was also at bFM that he had the first of two informal name changes thrust upon him. On a whim, programme director Graeme Hill decided he liked Hugh rather than Ian and it has stuck.
"When I first started up there he introduced me as Hugh and I said, rather sheepishly, that my name was Ian Hughes. He said he liked Hugh better and asked me if he could call me Hugh. I didn't want to rock any boats and said that was fine.
"Because I hadn't met anyone at bFM at that point I was introduced as Hugh and they all called me Hugh. When I started doing shows and introducing myself as Hugh on the radio my friends started calling me Hugh. Even I like Hugh better now."
The second incarnation of his name, Hugh Sundae, is the latest take on the nickname and grew out of Hughes' fascination with newsreading.
"I was reading the autocue one night for the TV3 newsdesk and I thought it would be really cool if I was a newsreader. So we were just joking around trying to find newsreader names, you know how they're really insane like Tony Veitch and Karen Pickersgill, and so we came up with Hugh Sundae as a joke. It sounds slightly less odd than Hugh Hughes and it's stuck."
Hughes has replaced Nathan Rarere on the now live Ice As, formerly known as Ice TV. Despite the odd bemused fan inquiring as to the whereabouts of Rarere, the Valiant-driving, North Shore-raised presenter hasn't felt daunted coming into a screen relationship that has had five or six years to establish itself.
"If I was the only new person working on it, I probably would have found that kind of weird. But because it's a new show and there's a new producer and it's a different format with a different director, I feel just like one member of a bunch of new people."
Although Ice As has brought Hughes nationwide recognition, he can't help feeling blase about it, especially after all the hard work that goes into an hour of "live" entertainment.
He has to constantly remind himself: "There are thousands of people who would kill to be in the position I'm in."
But he's more than aware of the fickleness of the medium: "I know that it could all come to an end when one person in the boardroom decides he doesn't like me any more."
Until that moment arrives, the man who believes his success is a combination of hard work and being in the right place at the right time is "happy to go along to all the parties and junkets.'
And what other plans does he have?
Aside from becoming a marriage celebrant, enrolling in chef and welding courses and obtaining his truck and bus licence, Hughes wants to fly. He would love to eventually make a career out of it, but: "It's a really long road to go down, that's the only thing. You have to clock up heaps of hours and might not get a job. I'm lucky that I have this job which pays the rent and allows me, when I have time, to get in the air."