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Sensi Magazine

Ready, Set, Cook, Smoke

Jan 18, 2019 09:50PM ● By Dawn Garcia
Q + A with Cooking on High Creator/Executive Producer Collin Whelan and Weed Expert, Ngaio Bealum.

We’ve watched Gordon Ramsay (Hell’s Kichen) and Tom Colicchio (Top Chef) judge upcoming chefs and their cuisine for years, and now thanks to Netflix, we get to watch a new kind of cooking competition. Created by Conveyer Media, Cooking on High is a show taking the culinary experience to new highs. This time its cannabis that’s on the menu. Produced by Stage 13, a division of Warner Bros. Digital Network, Vice President Shari Scorca oversees talent and content development. Scorca emphatically says, “We were looking for something noisy that would break through the clutter. Even as cannabis culture has gone a bit more mainstream, this show still stands out. It is not a parody of a cooking competition show, but instead a real cooking competition with hilarious and slightly stoned judges. The comedy is in the cast of characters, while the dishes are savory, delicious, and of course on a ‘higher’ level!” Adding Cooking on High to the roster was an exciting development for Scorca. The series is among the more daring and provocative unscripted shows airing on the network now known for pushing boundaries and creating truly authentic content.

Hosted by YouTube star, Josh Leyva, Cooking on High brings together some of the best chefs, challenging them to make dishes utilizing cannabis strains chosen by weed expert Ngaio Bealum, all cooked in a set amount of time. The goal is to create dishes that will impress the judges, get said judges properly stoned, and inevitably win the coveted, “GOLDEN POT”. Cooking for an array of judges ranging from rappers, comedians, digital influencers and more, this show really kicks up the fun and wets the appetite with cuisine that can be anything from late night munchies to Michelin-worthy eats.

With the excitement and anticipation surrounding the second season, we talked to show creator and executive producer Collin Whelan and weed expert, Ngaio Bea lum to get a preview of what we can expect in the coming season.

Founder of Conveyor Media, Whelan is a man with a vision and a pretty wicked sense of humor. The roster of shows he’s produced and executive produced is impressive: Cooking on High, Bargain Mansions, Justin Bieber’s Roast Red Carpet, American Idol Tonight, Beauty Wars, Ink Roulette working with media giants like Disney, VH1, Comedy Central, Snapchat, Travel Channel, and USA Network among them. Cooking on High is a show he’s excited to see on the air. We asked him about what he’s cooking up for Season Two.

As women become the dominant consumer of cannabis, any chance of having more females on the series?
Collin Whelan (CW): Absolutely! We’ve actually started chatting with more female judges and chefs in hopes of having more on for Season Two.

With so many resources out there, especially edibles, of all the dishes you made in Season One, which one was by far the tastiest and most unique?
CW: I hate to say this but as the executive producer I wasn’t allowed to eat any of the dishes. They all looked amazing and every judge seemed happy. One stand-out challenge though was the one we called, “Wake & Bake” and it involved making breakfast foods.

What are you excited to experiment with next in terms of ingredients?
CW: We’ll decide that after the casting process is completed for the new season.

What else can we expect in terms of variety for guest judges and chefs?
CW: We’re in the very early stages but we think our audience is going to the love the direction Season Two is going in. We’ve been approached by a number of people that want to judge, as you can imagine, so it should make the casting process interesting.

In one sentence, tell me what doing this show means to you and how it’s changed your life so far?
CW: This show started out as a great idea that we thought would never get made. Sometimes the craziest ideas are the ones people want to see.

Ngaio is a cannabis aficionado and chronisseur, and the man behind the strains presented on a platter for Cooking on High like Cookies and Cream. OG Kush. Girl Scout Cookies and Mega Queso. Being a stand-up comedian is just an added bonus! A cannabis contributor and columnist to several California publications (hey Ngaio, we should talk!), Bealum also has his own podcast called Rollin with Ngaio as well being a frequent guest on Doug Benson’s podcast. (CANNABISRADIO.COM/PODCASTS/ROLLIN-WITH-NGAIO/)

How do you choose your strains?
NGAIO BEALUM (NG): Me personally, I follow my nose. The way cannabis smells can tell you a lot about how the strain will make you feel. Different terpenes (The chemicals that give cannabis its amazing aromas) have different effects. Also, I have a lot of friends that like to smoke, so we get together on the regular to try new strains.

What is one of the craziest things that’s happened on set so far?
NG: The set is pretty mellow. I think the wildest thing is that the judges take a lot of naps after they tape an episode.

As cannabis influencers and educators, what do you think can help break the remaining stigma?
NG: A recent poll by Pew Research Center survey showed that 62 percent of Americans think that cannabis should be legal. Sure, there are a few folks that still believe the prohibitionist propaganda, but most folks these days understand that cannabis is relatively harmless, and can be quite fun if used in a responsible manner. I think this is a case where the politicians are way behind the will of the people. Surprise.

What else can we expect in terms of variety for guest judges and chefs?
NG: The more variety, the merrier! I think when we first started, many people didn’t know what to expect, and so many have been wary about appearing on a cannabis-friendly show. But now, we have folks clamoring to be in the show, so I am looking forward to having all sorts of guests and chefs on the show in the next season.

In one sentence, tell me what doing this show means to you and how it’s changed your life so far?
NG: I love that I get to talk about two of my favorite things (cannabis and cooking you can guess the third one) with like-minded people and highly skilled professionals.

If someone with hesitation about edibles and cannabis comes along, what do you tell them to help open their minds and change perceptions?
NG: Eh. Listen, cannabis isn’t for everyone. If folks don’t like it, that’s fine. But no one should go to jail or lose their job just because they like weed. Now, if someone is interested in trying cannabis-infused cuisine, I would advise them to start with low doses. Cannabis cuisine is delicious. And hella fun.

What cannabis product is in your stash right now?
NG: Right now? I just finished some really nice Purple Hindu Kush from Oregon. So tasty and mellow. I am also enjoying a superlative Tangie variant known as Purple Candy Cane from Greenshock Farms. Fruity and giggly. Harvest season is in full swing out here so I am looking forward to enjoying the stony splendor of the California cannabis community. Cooking on High is just beginning but while Season Two gets under way and Stage 13 continues to lead the way with interesting content, make sure to catch Cooking on High’s Season One streaming now on Netflix.