Cannabis comedian and SF native Ngaio Bealum is the toast of Netflix’s new gourmet stoner reality show, Cooking on high.
The incessant introduction of Netflix’s new shows in our lives have filled our evenings and weekends with marijuana consumption, but the streaming service’s new competitive cannabis-themed cooking show has a special San Francisco giggling ingredient.
Cooking on high premiered on Netflix in mid-June, featuring SF native stand-up comedian Ngaio Bealum which serves as the show’s kitchen marijuana sage.
You may have seen Ngaio Bealum – pronounced oon-GUY-oh BEE-lum – before without even knowing it. Although he now lives in Sacramento, his early 2000s hip-hop band Coolest Slackmob jammed on many SF stages with contemporaries like the Marginal Prophets, opening for national acts like Zap Mama at the time.
Bealum was born in San Francisco, and he is a 1985 alum Mission High Class.
“I went to [Archbishop] Riordan first, but they kicked me out,” he says SF Weekly.
The chronically loving comic is one of only two cast members to appear in every single episode of Cooking on high. (The other is host Josh Leyvac, a YouTube star known for his “Annoying My Girlfriend” videos and impersonations of One Direction band members.)
Bealum pops up in every show in three minutes, usually with a great crazy jacket, to describe which popular strains like Girl Scout Cookies, Sour Diesel or OG Kush the chefs will be using. He also provides compelling descriptions of how that strain affects your body and brain, with a little bit of the cultural history of how that variety came to prominence in the national marijuana conversation.
Two competing chefs to the stars—though hardly celebrities in their own right—then fired dishes like drenched fried fish, cheeba chicken-and-waffles, or truffle mac-and-cheese. These cannabis culinary concoctions are served to the comedians or rappers who happen to be the judges on that episode, and viewers watch them eat and declare a winner while riffing on how crazy they are for skunk.
Cooking on high episodes are all bite-sized, at just 15 minutes each, and you can easily watch the entire 12-episode season at once.
“It’s very easy to do, it’s only three hours,” says Bealum. “It’s not like Game of Thrones. You don’t have to memorize too many characters.”
The marijuana expert role is the perfect hybrid of Bealum’s 20 years of experience as both a comedian and an advanced everyday stoner.
“I’m lucky to be at the moment when people are looking for informational and entertaining things about the cannabis plant,” he says.
Bealum’s schtick stands out as a particularly funny element of the show, even if he is the “serious” among a panel of comedians. When a surfer strip tells a story about airport security harassing him during a trip in Amsterdam, Bealum jokes, “It’s good to see white people being profiled.”
Elsewhere, Bealum occasionally conducts Celebrity Weed Tour with San Francisco’s Emerald Farm Tours, host of the Rolling with Ngaio podcast on CannabisRadio.com, and strongly encourages people to watch his Netflix show so it can be picked up for a second season.
“Everyone Should Watch” Cooking on high at least three times, four times. Try to memorize it,” says Bealum.
Early reviews have panned the cooking show, and the IMDb user rating is only 4.7 out of 10. But critics have singled out Bealum’s banter as the main reason to watch, with Eater writing that he “steals the show”.
“My Instagram has been blown up since the show came out. I’ve added about 15,000 followers in the last five days,” Bealum told SF Weekly, exactly five days after the show’s release.
Cooking on high could become a bigger hit if the show decides to give viewers more Ngaio Bealum. His eccentric charm certainly doesn’t come straight from the central casting, and he doesn’t have to work as hard as other cast members to channel the witty pothead persona. If Netflix picks up this show for another season, we hope it gets spiced up with more of Bealum’s hijinks.