Budding talent: Cannabis chefs battle it out on 'Chopped 420' - Albuquerque Journal

Budding talent: Cannabis chefs battle it out on ‘Chopped 420’

Ron Funches, left, along with the panel of judges on “Chopped 420.” (Michael Moriatis/Discovery+)

Ron Funches is always up for a challenge.

This is why he’s a stand-up comedian.

When he was approached to host the series “Chopped 420,” he jumped at the chance.

“I was a celebrity contestant on ‘Chopped’ and loved the experience,” Funches says. “I did get chopped in the first round. Years have went by, and I’ve gotten some of my skills up. They were looking for a host for the spinoff, and I was on the list. I couldn’t be happier.”

As in the original “Chopped,” chefs are pitted against one another in culinary competition.

“Chopped 420” breaks new ground with five stand-alone episodes featuring four budding cannabis chefs who are challenged to create tasty and mind-warping dishes through three rounds — appetizer, entree and dessert – from a mystery basket of ingredients for a chance at winning the $10,000 grand prize.

Besides scouring the “Chopped” pantry for ingredients, each competitor must also navigate the “Chopped” greenhouse for cannabis or CBD-infused products to incorporate into their dishes.

The series is available to stream on discovery+.

Funches says the panel of judges is recurring and includes chef Esther Choi, drag performer and cannabis activist Laganja Estranja, chef Luke Reyes, chef Sam Talbot and comedian Tacarra Williams.

“Seeing the level of the chefs is amazing,” Funches says. “Some of these chefs have been using cannabis for a long time. It really opened my eyes to the health benefits of it all.”

Funches says Talbot had the simplest way of explaining how cannabis is used in the show and in recipes.

“Sam told me, ‘At the end of the day, it’s just an herb and you would use it the same way you use rosemary or thyme,’ ” Funches says. “It adds different flavors. One of the chefs has Crohn’s disease, and she’s used cannabis in her food for years. It’s to control the side effects. That’s what started her journey in cannabis-infused recipes. It’s a silly, fun show, but it can show you the beneficial side of cooking.”

During an episode, the chefs contend with spot prawns and borscht in the appetizer round. In the entree round, the remaining chefs are greeted with chocolate dentures, an ingredient you’d have to be high to come up with, while the last two competitors standing blaze into the dessert round only to be faced with a bottle of ketchup. The chef who keeps a clear head despite all the haze in the air will be crowned the 420 champion. Other episodes feature host Ron Funches presenting the chefs with sake frozen pops to use in their dishes that will have the judges flying high and seeing double; but which chef will bring the judges back down to earth with a good old chocolate milk for dessert? And see what happens when the chefs must use cannabis to complement the duo of armadillo eggs and eel.

Funches has hosted other events, but hosting “Chopped 420” is a dream come true for the comedian.

“I love being able to spotlight the people and their work,” he says. “It’s a journey, and I’m glad I’m on it.”


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