Review: ‘Cooking on High’ – Cannabis Now

As soon as the news broke that the first competitive cannabis cooking show was set to debut on Netflix, lots of people had high hopes, grand expectations and a few reservations. To be the first of its kind meant that it had such a lofty standard to uphold and people were eager to see if the series would actually be able to to get it right. The cannabis industry is so vast and there was a lot of room to wonder if “Cooking on High”  could successfully deliver on all fronts — elevating cannabis without demonizing stoners, putting a spotlight on cuisine without overshadowing cannabis, keeping the tone entertaining without being trivial, offering education without being stale and, perhaps most importantly, still being an exciting cooking competition.

Were they able to pull it off? Kind of.

Youtuber and actor Josh Leyva hosts the series that gives viewers a quick glimpse into the vast world of cannabis cooking. He’s chill, casually comfortable in front of the camera and graciously lets the spotlight shine on the cast of rotating feature judges that include comedians, musicians and entertaining personalities. Comedian, writer and cannabis connoisseur Ngaio Bealum does a good job as the resident cannabis expert, offering clarifying information and tidbits of knowledge with his quirky flair.

During each 15-minute episode, two competing chefs are challenged to make a dish based on a theme that is introduced before the round begins. They’re given 30 minutes to cook an infused dish of their choice before serving it to the judges. The chef that scores the most cannabis leaves out of 20 total points get to take home the coveted golden pot (yes, a literal pot) and bragging rights throughout the cannabis culinary scene.

Once the novelty of “Am I really watching what I think I’m watching?” wears off, there are things you start to wish were included in the episodes. It would have been nice to really get a chance to see how the chefs prepared their dishes, especially when they’re making stuff like cod cakes with chipotle aioli, pesto gnocchi or chicken and waffle kebabs. It also would have been cool to have judges that are chefs, owners of edibles companies or restaurants or other industry insiders with some cannabis knowledge under their belts to ask questions about dosage or dig deeper about pairing terpenes with certain ingredients to enhance certain flavor profile instead of just bantering a little aimlessly about how they smoke weed or eat edibles all the time. That part might be a little underwhelming for chronnoisseurs who have moved past the stage of retelling their craziest weed stories.

In general, though, it is a cool show and it’s worth watching just for the thrill of it. Depending on who you are and why you’re watching, different things will stand out throughout the episodes. You may be more fascinated by the fact that the delicious food is infused with cannabis than the outstanding technique of the chefs or more keen on getting to know more about the strains they’re using and how they will affect the judges. People who are complete newbies to the idea of cannabis-infused foods outside of brownies and desserts will be mind blown by the possibilities. Others who are more well-versed in the versatility and ever-evolving potential of cannabis in cooking will probably just be tickled to witness such a shift in cultural perception that’s being displayed on the most popular streaming service ever.

It doesn’t feel as high stakes as “Chopped” or “Iron Chef,” but that could be on purpose. No one’s reputation is on the line, everyone is just having fun. If nothing else, “Cooking on High” is definitely a conversation starter and fun thing to spring on your friends, family or cool co-workers who don’t believe such a thing does — or could ever — exist.

TELL US, do you watch cooking shows?


The Best Cannabis Grinder – The New York Times

An assortment of metal and plastic grinders on a table.
Most of the grinders we tested are made of aluminum, some are part (or all) plastic. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

We considered the top brands recommended by expert and amateur reviewers alike. We focused on medium grinders in the 2-inch-diameter range—large enough to grind herbs for multiple sessions, but not so big they take up too much space—and looked for three- and four-piece models that let ground material fall through into a collection chamber. Letting gravity do the collection work is easier and less time-consuming than picking cannabis from between sharp teeth (as you would need to do when using a two-piece grinder).

On Amazon, best-selling and top-rated grinders that fit our initial criteria start at just $10, but seeing the difference between inexpensive grinders and models that cost up to $100 when shopping online can be difficult. Glossing over claims about sharper teeth or better materials when staring at pictures is easy, but the difference jumps out at you when you twist a quality grinder in your hands. It threads together with ease, plus glides and grinds more smoothly. We tested 12 models that ranged in price from $6 to $85 to determine the best value for most people based on four main criteria:

No binding when grinding: Some modern cannabis strains can produce flowers with incredibly dense buds that are hard to grind. The best grinders have teeth that will slice through these buds instead of binding while you try to force them through. The shape, sharpness, and number of teeth all contribute to this, but you can’t easily see what works best based on individual user reviews. During testing, we paid close attention to which design details resulted in easy, thorough grinds.

The inside of a metal grinder with some weed leaf stuck in it.
More material stuck to plastic surfaces than to metal, making it harder to clear out. Photo: Mark Smirniotis

Easy to empty: A good three- or four-piece grinder should let most of your material fall through the holes between the teeth and into the collection chamber. It’s no fun to sit around picking tiny leafy chunks out from between sharp metal teeth. Yes, a knock or two will normally dislodge stuck buds, but sticky cannabis strains can stubbornly cling to tiny crevices. We looked for models that didn’t hold herbs hostage.

Ten piles of differently ground chamomile leaf on a cutting board, labeled with different grinder names.
Before testing grinders using cannabis, we performed a trial run using one tablespoon of dried chamomile flowers in each of the 10 models. The Kannastör results are from an original Gr8tr, though the updated V2 we recommend yielded the same results. Photo: Mark Smirniotis

Evenness of grinds: Well-ground cannabis will often heat more evenly (and thus more efficiently) than uneven chunks torn by hand. Buzz at prefers to get a finer grind for conduction vaporizers, like models from the popular Pax line, or something a little coarser that lets air through for convection vaporizers like the Firefly. A slightly coarser grind is more flexible, though. To get a finer grind, all you need to do is give your flowers a few extra twists with the grinder upside down. That will keep it from falling through the holes into the collection tray and makes for finer material when you flip the grinder back over. Because preferences and uses vary, we focused on smooth and even grinds more than granularity in our testing.

Durability and support: A hunk of aluminum isn’t easy to damage, but accidents happen. Acrylic tops can crack and cross-threading two pieces when screwing them together can damage the threads. The pressure-fit and glued-in magnets that hold on the top grinding plate could pop out. Teeth can dull and begin to bind.

Ten grinders with differently shaped teeth laying open on a table.
The shape and number of teeth and holes vary from model to model. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

More teeth doesn’t always mean a smoother or faster grind. The shape and sharpness of the teeth determine the smoothness of the grind, and the size and shape of the pass-through holes contribute the how fine the final result turns out.

In short-term testing, we can’t replicate the type of use and abuse a grinder is likely to see over years of ownership. But in person and side by side, the varying construction quality is obvious. Some models felt cheap, made squeaks and groans when we unscrewed them, and had large, visible seams. The best models, though, felt precision-machined, with seams that disappeared from sight and would quietly glide across their threads. You can fairly assume that grinders made with care and precision should also last much longer. That said, we will monitor the performance of our picks over the long term.

If you’re going to spend more than the minimum to get a well-made grinder, having a company that will stand behind it is also nice. We noted the warranty and support options from each company, too.


Netflix to Debut ‘Cooking on High,’ a New Cannabis Cooking Competition – Cannabis Now

Netflix will unveil its newest original cooking show, “Cooking On High,” on June 22. The series is in the style of cooking competition programs such as “Iron Chef,” but with a particular twist — all recipes must be prepared with cannabis, and be psychoactive enough to give the celebrity judges a buzz.

Hosted by YouTube wunderkind Josh Leyva, the program will highlight fellow comedian, notorious cannabis enthusiast and Cannabis Now contributor Ngaio Bealum as resident “culinary weed expert.”

Bealum promises to be quite the draw, with a personality that merges comical schtick and an activist sensibility. As the Sacramento Bee reports, Bealum previously co-hosted the online TV series “Cannabis Planet” and has appeared on “The Sarah Silverman Program.” His bio page calls him “an American comedian, musician, writer, actor, activist, juggler and publisher,” with the wry note that he “was born in San Francisco to hippie parents, leading to jokes about how he got his name.”

In his stand-up patter, Bealum riffs on cannabis in ways that merge the topical with the personal. “My kids know I smoke weed,” he says in one routine about his two children. “Thanks to weed, dad will take them to any animated feature ever. ‘What, the panda knows kung-fu? Get in the car!’”

On a more serious note, after the November 2016 passage of Prop 64, the initiative to legalize cannabis in California, Bealum told the Sac Bee: “You don’t know how relaxing it is as a cannabis user [and] especially as a person of color. I’ve been a road comic since 1990. I’ve had my car searched. Now cops can’t use, ‘You smell like weed a little bit’ as an excuse to search you. That’s great.”

Of course, Bealum is well aware that he’s pushing the cultural envelope. In a May column for the Sacramento News & Review, he wrote about the YouTube crackdown on cannabis content: “[L]ast month, YouTube started shutting down cannabis-based channels from all over the world. YouTube hasn’t offered any explanations, and there is no clear-cut pattern for who gets deleted. There is still plenty of cannabis content on YouTube, leaving many cannabis-laced content creators perplexed and perturbed. After all, many people rely on their YouTube channels, not just to reach a global audience, but to generate a little revenue.”

Although “Cooking On High” will only be available to those 18 and over, the concept is still pretty edgy — even for the age of legalization.

As all featured recipes must get you high, the chefs will have to be adept at the skills of decarboxylation and THC extraction as well as the more usual culinary arts. Netflix has recently come under pressure to cancel their popular teen-focused show “13 Reasons Why” because of its depictions of violence, including suicide and rape. And Netflix’s international expansion has raised questions about whether edgy content will be available worldwide — even in countries with more conservative attitudes. It will be interesting to see if “Cooking On High” manages to steer clear of such controversies.

Among the 17 celebrity judges thus far announced is Ramon Rivas II, co-founder of Cleveland-based collective and festival Accidental Comedy. Although now living in Los Angeles, Rivas remains something of a hometown hero, winning his participation in the show with a write-up on Cleveland Scene website. It notes that he was recently featured on Viceland encouraging students to “Drop Out and Move To Cleveland,” and often sports a “Make America Cleveland Again” t-shirt.

“I usually don’t really do edibles because I have such a high tolerance and I am so large that they feel wasted on me,” Rivas told the Scene, summing up what could be a recipe for success for the show’s competitors. “It was cool to see [cannabis] infused into actual gourmet, restaurant-quality foods by legit chefs.”

TELL US, would you watch a cannabis cooking competition?


Instant Pot in Your Instant Pot: The No-Mess, No-Smell Method to Making Quick Cannabutter – High Times

The Instant Pot is having a moment. In addition to making fork-tender ribs in minutes, you can use the magic countertop pressure cooker to make a batch of cannabutter in five steps, without arousing any olfactory suspicions. It’s the stuff Ron Popeil would dream of—set it and forget it!—if Ron Popeil was cool. All you need for this recipe for making quick cannabutter is bud, canning jars (the type with the lid and ring), a fat of your choice, and pantyhose.

Pro Tip: If you don’t have pantyhose, you can use cheesecloth or even a lightweight clean T-shirt. Anything that will strain out fine particles will work—but pantyhose were our test kitchen star.

Step 1: Decarb in the Jar

Grind your weed. Stretch the pantyhose around the mouth of the canning jar(s), and pour the finely-ground weed into the DIY filter. Pop the lids and rings on, and gently screw closed. Set the jars in a 225-degree oven for about 30 minutes, or on the “Slow Cook” setting on your Instant Pot for 35 minutes. The weed is decarbed and fully activated once it smells piney and turns a deep green.

Step 2: Add Fat

You can use pretty much any fat you like. Butter and coconut oil are great for baking with. Olive and avocado oil make for lightly-flavored finishing oils for savory foods. Note: Don’t fill jars more than 3/4 full.

Step 3: Apply Pressure

Set the jars in your Instant Pot. Add water to the pot until it’s halfway up the side of the jars with lids on finger-tight (firmly, but not super tight). Press the “Pressure Cook” button once, lock the lid, and you’re almost done. The timer will set itself for 30 minutes.

Step 4: Cool it

Once the timer goes off, pull the pressure release valve and remove the jars from the pot using tongs. Let the jars cool before you handle them in the final step.

Step 5: Strain

Unscrew the lid, gather the filter like a tea bag, and squeeze every drop of the buttery goodness into the jar. Remove the filter with the strained weed, tighten the lid, and your cannabutter is ready to eat or refrigerate. Depending on the size of your Instant Pot and your jars, you can make several pounds of butter in one go without skunking up your kitchen.

Bonus: The butter-soaked weed leftovers make a great addition to granola. Combine with toasted nuts, dark chocolate, and dried cherries.