TV review: “Cooked with Cannabis”

If you’ve ever perused the hundreds or even thousands of series on Netflix and wondered how easy it might be to get a program greenlit on their streaming service, “Cooked with Cannabis” may hold the answer. The pitch simply had to have been “‘Top Chef’ with weed,” at which point the brass must have replied, “Let’s do it!”

Because that is precisely what “Cooked with Cannabis” is, save for one aspect: instead of following a group of chefs for the whole season, each episode presents three new chefs in competition with one another. The challenge? Prepare three cannabis-infused courses within the allotted timeframe – appetizer, main course and dessert – to the specifications of the challenge individual to each episode. One episode is food of the future, another is holiday-themed and yet in another the chefs must craft a wedding dinner. The winner goes home with $10,000. (Sorry, no spread in Food and Wine Magazine. Maybe if they ever do a second season, High Times will get involved.)

Unfortunately, the refined palates of Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi are not on hand to judge the proceedings, which is a shame because it would frankly be a hoot to watch the pair of them get progressively stoned out of their gourds as the meal moves on. Instead “Cooked” gives us the considerably less glossy duo of R&B/hip hop artist Kelis and Leather Storrs, both of whom have experience in the kitchen and behind the bong.

In addition to the hosts, each episode offers up a rotating table of four celebrity guest judges, giving a total of six stoners partaking in the three chefs’ wares, which seems a bit like overkill at times. Still, it is mildly amusing to watch folks like Ricki Lake, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Amanda Seales, Michael Rapaport, drag queen Alaska Thunderfuck, and many more getting baked as they plow through the many courses. In one episode, “Top Chef” rock star Michael Voltaggio even shows up to hammer home the comparison.

The good news is, like “Top Chef” before it, “Cooked with Cannabis” doesn’t spend an inordinate amount of time on the judges and hosts. The chefs, front and center here, are the stars and they generally make for compelling viewing. Some chefs use every part of the plant, which is fascinating and unexpected. I think I fell in love with the guy who pressed an entire pot leaf into a tortilla. Terpenes are frequently used to bring flavor to dishes. One aspect of the chefs’ methods that took me by surprise was how many of them incorporated CBD into their meals as a means of “evening out” the diners; ensuring that their highs remained pleasant without ever taking them too far over the top. There are, after all, three full meals – nine courses! – being devoured by each judge in each episode. For these chefs, cooking with cannabis is an artform, and I was dazzled by quite a few of the dishes served up over the course of the season.

Make no mistake, this is mostly elevated cuisine average folks are unlikely to cook in their homes. But that doesn’t mean cannabinthusiasts won’t find tips here for their own home cooking. Indeed, as someone who has baked so many pans of pot brownies and trays of cannabis cookies that I’ve lost count, “Cooked with Cannabis” was a reminder that one can infuse cannabis or cannabis extracts into pretty much anything. For folks who don’t like to inhale, don’t want to spend money on costly edibles, or maybe just want to throw a weed party for friends, here’s a series that should provide plenty of ideas and inspiration.

All six episodes of “Cooked with Cannabis” can be viewed on Netflix

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