California Weed

Sacramento comedian may be the best part of Netflix weed-based cooking show, reviews say

How potent is that brownie? There’s an app for that

Peichen Chang of Engineered Medical Technologies demonstrates a device called a tCheck which measures the level of cannabinoids, such as THC.
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Peichen Chang of Engineered Medical Technologies demonstrates a device called a tCheck which measures the level of cannabinoids, such as THC.

The latest Sacramento-area figure to bring his talents and expert opinion to a national audience is comedian and local columnist Ngaio Bealum.

His area of expertise? All things cannabis, including culinary creations.

Bealum plays a key role on the marijuana-infused, reality TV cooking competition series, "Cooking on High," which debuted last Friday on Netflix.

A week later, several reviews are in, and many of them are lukewarm on the execution of what was a mostly promising premise: Chefs competing head-to-head to see who can create the best edibles.

The first season of the series contains 12 episodes, none longer than 15 minutes. Bealum, who performs marijuana-inspired comedy routines in Sacramento and the Bay Area and also writes a column for the Sacramento News and Review, serves as the program's culinary weed expert. The show's main host is YouTube personality Josh Levya.

"Cooking on High" has not yet garnered entries or scored grades on popular review aggregators like Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic. On IMDb, "Cooking" holds a score of 4.7 stars out of 10, based on 137 user-written ratings.

A glance at more in-depth write-ups by many national news outlets turns up mostly negative reviews, with a few common criticisms.

Maybe the biggest complaint: Several reviewers suggest "Cooking on High" simply isn't entertaining if you aren't ... well, high.

Here's a quick, THC-free taste of what some reviewers have said about Netflix's first weed-based cooking show and Bealum's role as a panel expert.


Forbes contributor Katie Shapiro, whose area of focus is cannabis, said her optimism for "Cooking on High" had worn off by the end of the first episode.

Shapiro charged that the show lacked appeal to the average viewer, and that it does a poor job of explaining things like the differences between cannabis strains or the creation of weed oil. In her view, Bealum and the gang use too much jargon that only stoners or those in the weed industry will understand.

"Bealum’s knowledge is underused, too," Shapiro writes. "Do cannabis better, Netflix," she later implores.


Greg Morabito of Eater wasn't too high on "Cooking" either, quickly addressing his concerns in a Q&A format: "Do you have to be stoned to enjoy this show? Yes. The stakes are much lower than what you find on most TV culinary competitions."

Morabito does write that "cannabis scholar" Bealum steals the show with his "colorful descriptions" of weed, but also claims the series does a poor job in educating its viewers on the subject matter.

By the end, Morabito identifies the show's target audience: "Full-blown potheads, college stoners, and teenagers who are just starting to experimenting (sic) with marijuana."

Cannabis Now

Even publications based entirely around marijuana had some issues with "Cooking on High." A California writer who goes by K. Astre says the show only "kind of" manages to pull off what it's trying to achieve.

Astre agrees that the stakes are pretty low — there are no cash prizes — but she also sees little harm done by the show, as much as it may be lacking in its execution of the concept.

"In general, though, it is a cool show and it’s worth watching just for the thrill of it," she writes.

The Guardian

Cliche as it may be, The Guardian's headline calls the show "half-baked."

Jake Nevins writes that Netflix's foray "remarkably fails to capitalize on either of the dual pleasures at its core: binge-watching and/while getting high," also calling the series "corny" and "wonky." Nevins also singles out Bealum for praise, complimenting his fun factoids.

The verdict:

For the most part, reviews by users, traditional media and even pot media appear to be critical of "Cooking on High." While some highlighted Sacramento comedian and columnist Bealum as the most entertaining part of the show, most outlets claim "Cooking" does a poor job educating viewers on weed-infused kitchen creations, and conclude that it's really only suitable for hardcore cannabists.

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