When it comes to cooking with marijuana, the plan in many home kitchens is probably similar: Infuse butter or oil. Make cookies or brownies. Repeat.
A new show on the Viceland television network intends to show professional chefs bringing cannabis cuisine into a new realm. “Bong Appétit,” an extension of a Vice web series, features culinary masters experimenting with new techniques and an array of ingredients to throw dinner parties where marijuana not only enlivens the vibe, but gives guests a taste of new flavors and textures.
Host Abdullah Saeed enlists help from pros like former “Top Chef” competitor Marcel Vigneron, founder of Wolf restaurant in Los Angeles, to adapt some of their favorite dishes to not only give diners a variety of highs, but use the tastes and aromas of cannabis to really transform the concept of haute cuisine.
In the first episode (airing Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 10:30 p.m.), Vigneron works with cannabis infusion expert Ry Prichard and Marigold Sweets founder Vanessa Lavorato to prepare a meal that includes smoked tuna and 10-hour beef cheek. Vigneron is appropriately impressed when Prichard unveils the “pot pantry” he’s assembled for the show’s chefs to use; dozens of jars are filled with flowers from different strains, concentrates and terpenes.
With the help of Prichard and Lavorato, Vigneron figures out how best to incorporate cannabis into the molecular-gastronomy style for which he became famous on “Top Chef.” He uses a smoke gun to bathe slender slices of tuna in marijuana smoke, crafts a “ganja gremolatta” herb mix to dress the beef cheeks and a soy-cannabis honey glaze to braise the meat and juices marijuana leaves (which aren’t psychoactive, but still have plenty of flavor) to make tiny liquid-nitrogen-frozen toppings for his pot-infused turmeric-lemongrass-black pepper ice cream.
Throughout the process, Prichard is not only helping Vigneron and Lavorato pick weed flavors that work well with the menu items, but he’s advising them on managing the amount of THC in the food, even deploying CBD ingredients to help counteract the effects.
Saeed also devotes a segment to meeting with Sebastopol-based vintner Pax Mahle of Wind Gap Wines, who demonstrates his technique for using cannabis flowers to make wine. (Basically, add a lot of weed at each stage of winemaking; soak the fresh juice in it, then add some more for fermentation, then add some more for aging.)
In the end, Saeed, Mahle and a handful of other cannabis experts gather to enjoy the meal – and it looks fantastic. Between the wine, the food, the dab hits between courses and a post-dinner joint, everybody’s having the time of their lives by the end of the evening (listen for the hysterical giggles at one point).
A future episode features a Bedouin-style birthday dinner for Saeed, featuring whole chickens stuffed with both cannabis flowers and leaves, cold-smoked labneh (Lebanese strained yogurt) and baklava made with fresh cannabis honey.
“Bong Appétit” seems intent on combining our insatiable appetite for fine cooking on television with the increasing interest in cannabis as more than just a smokeable. It looks to be must-see TV for fans of 420 and the Food Network.
“Bong Appétit” airs Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. on Viceland.