Toke Up and Chow Down on Netflix’s Pot-Infused Cooking Competition

Cooking on High. Available now on Netflix.

Culinary cannabis made its first great leap into the media world in 1954, when Parisian avant-gardist Alice B. Toklas published a cookbook containing a recipe for something she called “Haschich Fudge.” It was less a revolutionary act than an accident. The dish wasn’t really fudge (more like a sticky ball of bud and nuts) and Toklas had never actually prepared it; still short of recipes as the cookbook deadline approached, she put out a desperate call for help from her friends, one of whom supplied the Haschich Fudge instructions with an apparently straight face. Hardly anybody noticed it until the recipe turned up as the intellectual underpinning, if that’s the right phrase, of the 1968 movie I Love You, Alice B. Toklas!

Fast-forwarding 85 years to the epochal debut of Cooking On High, a competitive cooking show that’s cannabis cuisine’s introduction to television, it’s obvious—hilariously, bizarrely, sometimes painfully obvious—that everybody involved has sampled and then oversampled the recipes. Consider this judge’s verdict on a pot-infused grilled cheese sandwich: “The best goddamn sandwich I ever ate in my whole life. It tasted great. But I’m also high as a motherfucker. [Face looming freakishly into camera.] Look at the eyes, kid!”

Sort of an unhinged love child of Iron Chef and Reefer Madness, Cooking on High features two marijuana chefs—this sounds like a joke we would have made over Cheez Whiz and saltines when I was in college, but now it’s an actual thing—being handed a handful of weed and told to poach it or fry it or whatever into an edible dish within 30 minutes.

As the cooks putter away, judges drawn from the ranks of unknown rappers and obscure stand-up comics babble incoherently. “My mom smoked when she was pregnant,” one rapper boasts of his qualifications to judge, “so I’ve been high since before birth.” Counters another: “I own a tattoo gun.”

High Times cannabis columnist Ngaio Bealum hangs out dropping random dope tips, which is how I now know that there’s a strain of marijuana called Sour Diesel. I will confess that I shared the befuddled reaction of one of the judges, from a rap group called Warm Beer. “How do they come up with the names for these?” he wondered drowsily. “Who’s the nigga that said, Chemdawg—stamp it'”?

Whether stoners really cry out for cod cakes coated with panko, cannabis butter and handcrafted chipotle aioli and wrapped in prosciutto—as opposed to, say, a microwave burrito with a Little Debbie pie chaser—is by no means certain to me.

And because the actual cooking portion of the show is edited down to about two minutes per dish and jump-cut at the rabid pace of a 1984 Footloose video, the claim that all this stuff got cooked in 30 minutes seems a little on the flaky side. My girlfriend, who knows a lot more about cooking than I do, scoffed at the idea that a souffle of organic flour, eggs, two cheeses, cayenne, and drizzled with dope-infused aioli could come out of the pan in half an hour even if you were just warming up the Pillsbury version.

But that pales beside my new knowledge, courtesy one of the ganja chefs, that there’s something called soyrizo, a vegan chorizo, that appeals to the addled doper palate. Burn in Hell, Alice B. Toklas.