It is easy to get lost in the absolute mishmash of content that is the Netflix Originals library. The streaming platform now churns out food-centric television, too, much of which garners praise — “Nailed It!” cheers us up with silly creations and host Nicole Byer’s boisterous personality, while “Ugly Delicious” indulges our curiosity with David Chang’s unpretentious exploration of different cuisines. Just the pilot of “Chef’s Table” makes us want to hop on a plane to Modena, Italy.
Netflix’s latest offering in this realm, however, falls incredibly short. The platform touts “Cooking on High” as the first-ever competitive cannabis cooking show, which seems odd considering how little this show cares about actual cannabis. Instead of learning much about the plant’s properties or the culture surrounding its culinary use, viewers are force-fed roughly 15 minutes of mundane cooking and mindless commentary each episode.
But even the worst dishes are just the sum of their parts. Because this mid-June release is still getting so much buzz, here is a closer look at some of its questionable ingredients:
1 ripped-off premise
We can all agree that the Food Network struck gold with “Chopped,” one of the strongest cooking competitions on television. Weird ingredients paired with a ticking clock make for riveting television, as do the many doomed trips to the ice cream machine. Will Chef Bobby plate his pork sliders in time? How will Chef Lisa work turkey into her parfait? And so on.
“Cooking on High” is a poor man’s “Chopped,” with two fewer rounds and chefs. Instead of using this to give each contestant more attention, the show shoves them into a tiny space and spends more time with its dud of a judging panel. (We miss you, Alex Guarnaschelli!) The required ingredient in each episode is a certain strain of weed, and contestants must abide by a theme like “afternoon delight” (so, lunch).
2 “celebrity” judges with little culinary knowledge
This is where we discuss Mod Sun, a rapper this pop-culture junkie recognizes only as B-list actress Bella Thorne’s boyfriend. “My mom smoked when she was pregnant,” he says during his introduction in the pilot, “so I’ve been high since before I was born.” Later on, he admits that he has “like, never ate fish before” while chowing down on competitor Andrea Drummer’s cod cake. Of course, he rates it a 10.
Mod Sun’s fellow judge, comedian Ramon Rivas II, is not much better: “I’m not sure I’m feeling the effects of the meal, ’cause I came into the shoot kind of high,” he says. To judge an edible, you might want to have the ability to evaluate its effects.
Later episodes (with different judges) include such insightful commentary as “I thought it was cooked very well. It was beautiful.”
2 overlooked chefs
The poor, poor chefs! Despite the fact that the show revolves around their battle to win what YouTube star turned host Josh Leyva refers to as the “coveted Golden Pot” — is there money in it? — we don’t actually get to hear much from them. They are sometimes cut off when describing their dishes, and the tiny space inhibits our ability to see their cooking techniques while listening to the judges tell meandering stories.
When Luke Reyes, a chef who once won “Chopped,” begins to describe his sandwich in the first episode, Mod Sun interrupts to say, “Bro, I’m a mess right now.” Cool, but please let Reyes finish.
½ teaspoon cannabis information
The one redeeming quality of “Cooking on High” is Ngaio Bealum, a comedian and the show’s resident cannabis expert. Bealum introduces the strain of weed in each episode, divulging a tiny bit of information about it — Amnesia Haze is “super, super buzzy,” for example, and Cookies and Cream is an “indica-dominant hybrid” — and then sits beside the judges without saying much more.
In the fourth episode, Bealum responds to a ridiculous judge (who says he considers all strains of weed to be the same) by breaking down two commonly used kinds of marijuana: indica, known for “its body effects,” and sativa, known for producing a “a more cerebral, buzzy, mind-racing high.”
We love educational television! Please teach us more.
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