“Bong Appétit” is back. The season premiere is April 2, 2019, at 9 p.m. on Viceland.
This season sees the return of co-host and cannabis entrepreneur Vannessa Lavorato, but little else remains the same. With the departure of executive producer and co-host Abdullah Saeed, Season 3 reinvents itself as a cooking competition with chefs competing against one another.
Along with special guests that include musicians (Wiz Khalifa, Lykke Li, George Clinton, D.R.A.M.), comedians (Cheech & Chong, Doug Benson), and celebrity chefs, “Bong Appétit: Cook Off” features new hosts/judges in Cypress Hill frontman and cannabis entrepreneur B-Real and restaurateur Miguel Trinidad.
Trinidad runs two Filipino restaurants, Jeepney and Maharlika, in New York City, and founded 99th Floor, an edibles brand that throws invitation-only dinner parties. B-Real has long been associated with the West Coast weed scene, first as the Cypress Hill frontman, unabashedly rapping about weed throughout the ’90s and 2000s, then as a businessman as the owner of Dr. Greenthumb’s, a dispensary in Sylmar, California.
Weedmaps News caught up with the two new hosts to ask them about the new season and how they ended up on the show.
Q: Can you talk to me about the weed scenes you were a part of, the West Coast rap and West Coast marijuana culture, and how you brought weed into the mainstream with your music? How does that translate to bringing weed cuisine to Viceland’s audience?
A: I bring in an experience that, I guess, [Viceland] considers unique. I’ve been in the culture for such a long time, talking about [cannabis] as an activist, as an artist, then eventually as an entrepreneur. I think they felt that I bring a certain validity to it, because I’ve been so deeply rooted in the cannabis industry for such a long time.
I stay close to the community, I’m never that far outside of it. It’s a passion for me. We go to the Cannabis Cups, we go to the events, we go to show ourselves and be with the people. And I think all that is something that I think Vice saw in me and thought would be a great addition to this new format of “Bong Appétit,” where it’s more of a competitive form of the show as opposed to what it was before.
Q: What was it like working with Miguel Trinidad and Vanessa Lavorato? All three of you have firm places in the cannabis industry and culture, but your backgrounds are so different. What was the vibe on set?
A: It was great. We clicked pretty much from the first day. Cracking jokes and having fun. It was new to me. … I mean I’ve hosted shows before … but it was different when you’re coming into a situation. You think, “Are we going to have chemistry? Are we going to get along?”
And it was absolutely amazing, man. I had not anticipated that it would be that fun, because doing TV, sometimes it’s fun and sometimes it’s a grind. But this seemed to go so fast because we were having so much fun and we all got along so well. They know their shit. It made it that much easier to do the show because you’re sitting there with people who know what’s up. I look forward to the next season.
Q: Can you compare the competitive aspect of the show between chefs? How is it similar between the competitive nature of cultivators and extractors in the cannabis industry?
A: I like that part of it. That was one of the things that motivated me to come into [the show], because it was a competitive form, so it’s entertaining, but also its educating people on how to infuse.
I mean, with cultivators, they’re scientists. The ones who do it well, who do it great, it’s because there is love behind it. It’s not just about making a dollar. Yeah, they know that they’re making money with their product, but it’s the quality and the love they put behind it. As a cultivator, you’re looking at yourself as an artist. You want people to say yours is better than everyone else’s.
I think the competitive nature of “Bong Appétit” is sort of similar. But what we found with the chefs is that they were competitive, but they worked together. Everybody was looking at what the other person was making, saying “Okay, what are you doing with that?” It was competitive, but it was a friendly competition.
Q: You’ve been putting Filipino food on the map with Maharlika and Jeepney and your book “I Am A Filipino.” … What compels you to dive into the world of weed? First with 99th Floor and now with “Bong Appétit?”
A: There’s always been a love for cannabis in my life; 99th Floor was born out of meeting my partner, Doug [Cohen]. We were both New Yorkers and we were working on a project, and we wanted to do something together. While brainstorming, he said “How do you feel about cooking with cannabis?” and I said, “Let’s do it!”
Our inspiration was to develop a cannabis dinner that wasn’t way too strong. When I was a kid and had a [pot] brownie that was so strong, you wanted to crawl into a hole and wait for the ride to end. What we wanted to do was not only destigmatize cannabis through the universal language of food, but we also wanted to educate people on microdosing.
Q: How did you get involved with “Bong Appétit?”
A: I’ve been doing stuff with Vice for a while. One of the producers of [“Bong Appétit”] attended one of our dinners, and we were invited to participate in one of the episodes in the first season where I did a Filipino flower feast — I did a Kamayan, which is a meal laid out on a banana leaf and every single item was infused. It was a different format.
Throughout the years, Chris [Grosso] has always wanted to explore what we do and try to put it on the show. We were fortunate enough that the third season, “Bong Appétit Cook Off,” we were able to follow that format and put together a roster of chefs that can really take the cooking to another level.
Q: What was it like working with B-Real and Vanessa Lavorato? They’re cannabis icons. What was the vibe like on set?
A: The experience was extremely humbling. Vanessa is an amazing woman. She’s an advocate for the growth of cannabis, for women in business and women in cannabis. I think she’s extremely talented at what she does with her chocolates.
B-Real, c’mon. He’s like the poster boy for cannabis, you know? If you have smoked weed and haven’t listened to Cypress Hill, then you have not really smoked weed. At first, yes, you’re standing there and you’re a little starstruck. But he’s just like anybody else, he’s extremely humble, he’s a great human being. He had a lot of amazing stories to tell. We laughed our asses off the whole time.
Q: Food culture is having something of a moment with shows like “Ugly Delicious,” “Salt Fat Acid Heat,” and “Chef’s Table”. Where does “Bong Appétit,” and weed at large, fall into the landscape of food culture? What do you hope it will do for using weed in the culinary arts?
A: I feel that the show will show people things that they didn’t know before. There are segments where you’re learning how to make tea, learning how to press rosin, learning how to use these ingredients in the food. I think that once people see that it’s not just about making a weed butter, they’re going to learn a lot from the show on how to process cannabis in order to use it in food. Not just sweet food — brownies, Rice Krispies — but incorporate into savory meals. It’s going to open up a whole new world for people.