Cooked With Cannabis fires up this 4/20.
Credit: Rachel Murray/Getty Images

In the second episode of Cooked With Cannabis — Netflix's new culinary competition featuring marijuana as its star ingredient — a contestant named Melissa tells a story about how she dropped everything she was doing when she found out her mother had cancer. The chef knew that one way she could help was by cooking for her mom, and cooking with cannabis.

"There's a real groundbreaking element to the show," says Kelis, who cohosts Cooked With Cannabis and is best known as the singer of pop confections like "Milkshake" and "Bossy." "We are able to put something that has been demonized, and that is still not completely legal, and we're bringing it to the forefront to show that it is not about loser stoners."

Each episode of Cooked With Cannabis finds three weed-savvy chefs competing in a three-course battle for $10,000. Kelis hosts with longtime cannabis chef Leather Storrs, an instantly memorable judge who's been known to let out a booming "Wow!" when an extravagant entree hits the spot. Winners are chosen by Kelis, Storrs, and a panel of celebrity judges, but the show is about more than who can prepare the best THC-infused corn gazpacho: It also aims to enlighten viewers about the benefits of cannabis in food.

Credit: Netflix

"If we wanted people to take away that stigma, we have to make them understand," says Kelis, who emphasizes the show's use of microdosing. "This is not about obliterating your soul."

Naturally, Cooked With Cannabis has debuted on April 20, a.k.a. 4/20, the unofficial holiday for cannabis users everywhere. In addition to offering the sort of high jinks that would be at home in a classic stoner movie (like former NBA dunk contest champ Nate Robinson roaming around the kitchen to see if the weed is real), the show explains the meanings behind all the marijuana buzzwords you overheard in your college dorm.

Class is in session, and below, Kelis schools EW about the new show, her first experience with cannabis, her dream of opening a restaurant, and what it was like to postpone her tour amid the coronavirus pandemic.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What's been your relationship to cannabis?

KELIS: I used to smoke as a kid. I don't smoke anymore, but I was familiar with it growing up as a musician in New York. I stopped smoking for years, probably for like almost 20 years. I slowly, with all of the legalization, started doing research, being interested in what it actually was instead of just some bad after-school program.

There are a lot of misconceptions. I'm 25, and even I thought for a time that smoking weed once would immediately give you schizophrenia.

With my mom, she was so anti[-cannabis]. When I started reading all the benefits of it, I even got her to a point where it wasn't demonized anymore. That was game-changing. That was monumental for me. This show, it's light and fun, but there's a real groundbreaking element to it. Number one, there are tons of essentially innocent people in jail because of it. It's been a catalyst for racism and prejudice for decades. On top of that, people are actually suffering and there's a simple solution, and it's been separated from them. A lot of reasons as to why I thought this was a beneficial show, and why I wanted to do it, was because we would be on forefront of its benefits, and there's nothing else like it.

Credit: Netflix

I read that before the coronavirus pandemic really hit across the globe, you were in the middle of touring. How hectic was it for you when when everything ground to a halt?

It wasn't really hectic, we just had to make a decision before a decision was made for us. It's really bad out there. Our whole business is based around people. This is festival season. All my shows got canceled. People forget it's not just the artists. Like, yeah I was affected, but I had an entire band out with me and I had crew. It all has a domino effect.

At least you're able to connect with people through this show. For those who may not know why you'd be on a cooking show, you trained as a Cordon Bleu chef and wanted to open a restaurant, right?

Definitely. I have a company called Bounty and Full. We have sauces. I have olive groves here on the farm. We've just been building a foundation of a product line as a foundation toward a restaurant. That's still the plan, everything just is at a halt right now.

One more thing, I know my editors would hate if I didn't ask: Why were you on the British version of The Masked Singer and not the American one?

[Laughs] Because it was brand-new there. I don't know, I'm a pioneer kind of woman. Honestly, it was something that was way out of my comfort zone. It was really my kids that were like "Do it! Do it!" So I did it!

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