Thanks to the inventiveness of Food Network and the rise of celebrity chefs, food television has rapidly evolved in the past 30 years. Concepts have expanded beyond the dull “dump and stir” shows to elaborate and energized series focused on competition and wild scenarios. Despite the progression of the televised food world, there has not been a program to highlight plant-based cuisine … until now. High Cuisine—the world’s first digital series to feature exclusively plant-based ingredients—pits two established chefs against each other in a competition to create the most creative and delicious dish based on the episode’s challenge. The fact that the show is entirely vegan isn’t the only interesting angle to this program, as contestants smoke cannabis before competing (hence the title). We observed the filming of the final two episodes to get a taste of our new favorite cooking show. Here’s what we learned.
1. The seed
High Cuisine is the result of a collaboration between mitú and Verizon’s go90. Originally, the focus was on the “high” component, and plant-based cuisine was going to be a challenge for only one episode. However, executive producer Asher Brown was adamant about keeping the entire series vegan. Due to his persistence, High Cuisine became an entirely plant-based competition. Brown hopes this show draws excitement to plant-based culinary competitions, paving the way for others to follow and create more mainstream plant-based content. And although the concept is lighthearted and silly, the show is “hardcore vegan advertising,” Brown says.
2. How it works
The competition is hosted by Josh Blue, winner of Last Comic Standing, and actress/social media maven Marycarmen Lopez. Blue adds the comedic element, as he gets high with the contestants and creates a friendly air of competition before the clock begins. Lopez, on the other hand, explains the challenge of the day and makes sure the contestants stay focused on their tasks and the time. The cannabis-induced chefs have 45 minutes to meet the challenge and outdo the opponent in terms of taste and culinary creativity. To keep the creative juices flowing, the chefs are treated to a second round “smoke break” with Blue halfway through their cooking. Trust us—with this much cannabis in their systems, one could not script the comments and over-the-top expressions of the contestants.
3. And the winner is …
Once time expires, the chefs present their culinary creations to Blue, Lopez, and judge Jason Eisner, who works as a beverage director and is a partner in the Café Gratitude company, as well as the owner of Highland Park bar Block Party. Once the dishes have been tasted and assessed, Eisner announces the winner, and the chef who wins will have his or her dish featured on the inaugural menu of Eisner’s upcoming whiskey and cake bar Whiskey Baby. Although we can’t tell you who won the series, we can assure you that the dish is sinfully sweet and indulgent, and that we can’t wait for Whiskey Baby to open next year.
4. Dude, where’s my show?
High Cuisine airs every Monday for 12 weeks through Verizon’s go90. In keeping with the holidays, the first episode challenges the chefs to create the ultimate vegan Thanksgiving sandwich (chef Raul Medina of the all-vegan Taqueria la Venganza and Chef Beeta Mohajeri of Pop Cultivate battle to create unique and unorthodox vegan sandwiches).