Meet the host of Viceland’s weed cooking show Bong Appetit
“I think that my story of cannabis discovery is a pretty typical one for American kids,” Bong Appetit host Abdullah Saeed told us. But his life since then, for anyone living in the UK, will seem pretty alien – and maybe even a bit dreamy.
The journalist turned a passion for weed into a paying job, and even managed to combine it with food.
As the host of one of Viceland’s most popular series, Bong Appetit, the LA resident gets to live it up in a sick house with a pantry full of weed and food cooked by professional chefs – all infused with various types of cannabis.
The show takes all the best bits of TV cooking programmes and adds weed.
You’ll find Abdullah hosting a weed-infused Christmas dinner for his friends, or helping make weed-infused Italian food with a 94-year-old grandma who’s been a part of Bong Appetit since it started out as a web series – but crucially, you’ll always be talked through exactly how they’re adding THC, and often CBD, to each dish.
“I really like to espouse the idea of cooking with cannabis at home,” Abdullah said. “People are like ‘where do I get edibles?’ And I’m like ‘what do you mean where do you get edibles? You have a bag of weed and you have a kitchen, you make edibles!’ And then you know also exactly how much is going in there.”
And while for the host smoking or vaping cannabis is much more effective (and there’s still plenty of that in the show), cannabis dinner parties and edibles are really taking off in the US.
“Cannabis as a culinary ingredient is not a new thing, it’s been around for a long time, but now with legal cannabis and the legal cannabis industry growing, this innovation, with not only concentrating the resins and natural oils from cannabis but distilling them and using them in different ways to generate a whole variety of ingredients, that’s something that you see a lot of,” he said.
Abdullah first started smoking weed at 15 or 16, just out of interest, but “grew to love it” to a point where the plant is incorporated into everything he does.
“When I’m watching a movie or eating a meal or going to the park or riding a bike, whatever I do weed is a part of that. My passion for it has never really faded since the day I was like 15 or 16 and discovered that this is the greatest shit ever,” he said.
More than that, Abdullah also feels the political side of things.
“I think that legalisation, as we call it, it’s an illusion when you consider that weed was only (made illegal) like 80 years ago, by the western world essentially, and all these places that have espoused the benefits of cannabis for thousands and thousands and thousands of years are forced to marginalise something that’s native to their land.
“I think it’s important as a South Asian person to really understand the history and current impact of cannabis, because it’s part of our history.
“There’s all this hoopla around legalisation, and ups and downs, and people are going to jail – and the whole time this is just the same silly little plant that it’s been for thousands of years. You grow it, it doesn’t care what’s going on in the rest of the world. It’s just sitting there being, and we’re all dancing around it waving our fists in the air”.
But while all that’s pretty heavy from the former Weediquette columnist, Bong Appetit is full of fun. Abdullah estimated that the cost of all the weed in the pantry at the house they film in would come to around $150,000 (£123,000) – not just because of volume, but because of the rarity of some of the items.
At Christmas they smoke a three-ounce Christmas tree-shaped blunt, with all the presents under the tree also smokeable, they stuff animals with whole buds, and the chefs lead the cooking strategy to make sure the food will not only get you high, but tastes really good. It’s not a show to watch on an empty stomach.
It will probably be a long time before something similar is able to legally take place in the UK, but for now you can get your fix of all things cannabis and food related on Viceland on Mondays between 10 and 11pm.