Run time 00:34:15
Guest Judges: Flula Borg (DJ, comedian), Ha Ha Davis (comedian), Sabrina Jalees (comedian), Bria Vinaite (actor)
Series synopsis: Cooked with Cannabis is a cooking-based competition featuring three chefs competing to create the best dining experience with cannabis infused food. Kelis (singer) and Leather Storrs (professional chef) are the hosts of the show and the primary judges. Each episode also features several celebrity guest judges, often actors, comedians and singers. The chefs has to create a three-course meal, appetizer, main and dessert, to compete for a single episode prize of $10 000 USD. All the judges try each dish one at a time and comment on the flavour, but only Kelis and Leather (what a great name!) discuss how well cannabis was incorporated into the dish.
Proud representative from San Francisco, the first thing we find out about him is that he’s killing it in heels. Brenden is all about pushing the boundaries of normal society. According to him, this is a core aspect of queer society and cannabis cuisine alike.
"Chef" Harold Sims
From Denver CO, Harold has been training his whole life for this moment. From high school track star to military serviceman to culinary school. The only contestant to refer to themselves as a chef, Harold is here to show us that southern US cuisine is actually West African cuisine.
Melissa is a hugger and she’ll announce it just as she’s about to embrace you. From New York New York, she is a self-proclaimed THC/CBD product developer. Melissa was inspired to get into cannabis cuisine for her mum.
The second episode and we’re already on a trip around the world with the Global Eats theme. Each chef is asked to pick a cultural inspiration for their 3-course meal. Brenden chooses Mexican food citing his husband’s ethnic ancestry and preferred vacation location as reasons for his decision. Harold chose the cooking styles of West Africa to influence his dishes and Melissa chose something too but she can’t really describe what it is succinctly with words. Melissa cooks by channeling the power of her ancestors. She draws on her training in French cuisine to provide the launching point into the combined styles of Vienna, Germany and Judaism. Leather completes our intro to the episode with a very informative monologue discussing the finer points of dosing cannabis into individual dishes as well as across the entire meal. Unfortunately, the graphics department didn’t get the memo and we have to stare at a pulsing image of the series logo while we listen. This was a strange editing choice; I would have preferred to actually watch Leather speak rather than look at the logo. Nonetheless, this is a not so subtle hint at what Leather thinks is an important skill in cooking with cannabis.
Brenden’s concept for handmade tortillas with a cannabis leaf pressed into one side is a strong push for early favourite. He fries up some gourmet mushrooms in garlic and serves it with a very conservative amount of sauce. It looks amazing but everything he put THC into, he fried. Melissa chose to make a Viennese-German-Jewish classic, potato and leek soup and topped it with a mustard sour cream. She was very proud at being able to make a dish with no added salt, but neglected to tell the judges that a post plating stir was required to achieve the proper flavour. The soup was the flavour favourite of some guest judges but the unimaginative dish didn’t impress Kelis or Leather. Melissa claimed to have put THC into her dish, but it wasn’t clear how or when. Chef Harold started bold with a popular African street food, grilled ribeye and octopus. Every ingredient was blackened on the BBQ and looked delicious but I would be amazed if any of the THC survived the charring. He set the tone early that his dishes were going to contain a lot of spice and bring some heat with each bite. Maybe it was because of the octopus, or because Africa is a continent and no one was quite sure which street this food was supposed to be inspired from, but all judges gave underwhelming reviews. Brenden’s tacos went over well with the guest judges and seemed to edge out the other dishes with Kelis and Leather too. Leather flashes another bit of sass before we close out the appetizers, replying facetiously to Brenden, “Oh, that’s another thing CBD does?” when Brenden attempts to add to the claims of the things CBD can supposedly do.
This episode leans harder into featuring the names of various cannabis strains than the previous episode, but does the viewer the disservice of not telling us anything about them. Names like “Wedding Cake”, “Chocolate Glue” and “Peanut Butter Breath” get dropped but we’re not told anything about how or why the chefs chose to use those strain over others. Is there an expected flavour note pairing? Are they targeting a specific turpene? We’ll never know and I think this is a real big missed opportunity for the show. Again the show glosses over the fact that the chefs were given time to make their own infusions. We get to see Brenden’s butter infusion while he’s preparing his main dish of duck breast and mole sauce. There are clearly a ton of cannabis bits still in the butter, making it look very amateur. On the plus side he’s very experimental, reinforced by his decision of including ground up bits of grasshopper in his dish! Harold made his own dry rub featuring avocado and weed infused citrus zest that he then applied to a rack of lamb. Melissa made weinerschnitzel with cabbage. Things were really not looking good for her chance of winning, she may have well made chicken fingers. For the viewer, there’s a wonderful to watch sequence of Melissa trying to salvage her spaetzle dough by massaging it with a frying basket and then rubbing it on a cheese grater.
Compared to episode 1, most of the dishes are very CBD heavy. Like, greater than 10:1 ratio of CBD to THC. Its not like there’s a lot of CBD either, just that Melissa and Brenden’s dishes are extremely light on THC. Harold is clearly going for a similar meal dosing to the previous episode’s winner, but this time all spicy hot. Not only is his dosing strategy more ideal, but his harissa-lamb blows the competitor dishes out of the water taste-wise. Its so good that Leather steals an extra serving to frantically eat while Kelis is trying to move on to the Dessert segment.
As we get to see what eat contestant is preparing for dessert, Kelis and Leather are trying hard to pretend that Harold hasn’t already won. Yes, the lamb was apparently that good. We get to see Harold’s dessert first and he is about to seal the deal. He’s building South African folklore into his dish, which ends up being the perfect cross between a Cadbury Creme Egg and a cream puff pastry. Brenden decides to bring down expectations with a mango ice cream. The coolest thing about this dish is when he uses liquid nitrogen to kickstart the freezing of his ingredients. Kelis comments that dessert should be Melissa’s time to shine with her Viennese-German-Jewish style. Melissa decides to go with an Austrian crepe and blintz filling. This one is actually my personal favourite because it integrates very well with smart THC infusion principles. There’s very little cooking and lots of cream. Really good for preserving a precise dose of THC. In stark contrast to the first episode, none of the chefs decided to go with a CBD forward dessert. This was even more surprising considering Brenden and Melissa’s CBD heavy appetizers and mains. In fact, for the most part, the desserts all contained the most amount of THC out of all the dishes.
The writers for this episode did a much better job trying to fake us out about who was going to win. Since the seeing the lamb, my guess had been Harold as long as he didn’t screw up the dessert. Harold never seemed to be any of the guest judges’ number one pick, but this is all about impressing Kelis and Leather. Melissa brought the homemade comfort food feeling that resonated with Bria and Sabrina, unfortunately, her dishes were uninspiring and she wasn’t very good at integrating cannabis either. To be fair, she’s clearly enamoured with cannabis and with food, but could not deliver a high-level combination of the two. Brenden is a fantastic chef but he suffered from another affliction. I don’t think Brenden knows that THC comes from cannabis. Or he’s such a CBD fanboy that he only mentions THC because it was a requirement of this cannabis cooking show. If it isn’t clear, Harold was the winner. While the execution of his chosen cuisine style was superior to the others, I think his THC dosing and overall meal strategy was what got him that win.
Although Kelis and Leather don’t spend much time talking about it, planning the dose and choosing ways to infuse THC/CBD into the dish without overcooking it are a big part of successfully cooking with cannabis. If it were only about good food, this would just be another cooking show.
So far, I could have guessed the winner through these first two episodes based solely on THC dosing and been two for two.
Episode two struggled to have an engaging competition theme however everything else was an improvement over episode one. I’m hoping in episode three that the writers really lean into Kelis as the straight man and let Leather’s personality and quirk go loose. The guest judges were also much better for episode two than they were for episode one. I still didn’t really know who any of them were before this but I definitely know who Flula Borg is now. All of the guests were more engaged and talking through each dish than the previous episode. Flula steals some large moments of the show with his dry sense of humor and that meshes very well with the attitude that this cooking competition has settled into. Flula makes the other comedians funnier and Bria does a good job giving us the visual cue that he is funny even without the cannabis infused foods. If they can put together more guest panels like this one, I might keep watching after episode three.
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