Abdullah Saeed of Bong Appétit Is Cooking Dinner in Scottsdale

Abdullah Saeed engages in one of his favorite pastimes.
Abdullah Saeed engages in one of his favorite pastimes. Abdullah Saeed
Abdullah Saeed lives a life any stoner would envy. On his Viceland, James-Beard-nominated show Bong Appétit, Saeed once traveled the country to meet (and eat) with chefs infusing cannabis into their exotic cuisine. He has indulged in everything from cannabis-infused Texas barbecue to weed tacos, sativa s’mores, and Pakistani pot pakoras. Since leaving Vice for the second time in 2017, Saeed is charting his own path in media — and advocating for cannabis along the way. Next stop? Scottsdale.

The weed aficionado will be at Wasted Grain in Scottsdale at 5:30 p.m. this Tuesday, June 11, to host Tasted Strain — a cannabis-infused dinner whipped together by exploratory chef Payton Curry of Flourish Cannabis and Grassfed Hospitality. Tickets start at $40.

Open to medical marijuana card holders, the fare includes watermelon and crab poke, caprese salad with hand-pulled burrata, Curry’s take on poutine, and chicharrones, all infused with Mary Jane. Curry is a classically trained chef who left Michelin-starred restaurants to focus on creating elevated cannabis edibles, which are now available at dispensaries in Arizona, northern California, and Nevada.

Chef Payton Curry whips up some cannabis-infused deliciousness. - PAYTON CURRY
Chef Payton Curry whips up some cannabis-infused deliciousness.
Payton Curry
Saeed says he loves how innovative chefs like Curry see cannabis as a challenge to create something new with a versatile ingredient; he enjoys partnering with individuals who believe in the benefits of the plant. Saeed and Curry were introduced through David Bienenstock, Saeed’s co-host on their podcast, Great Moments in Weed History. The podcast examines mankind’s long history with marijuana, even making a conjecture that “Jesus performed healing miracles by infusing THC into his holy anointing oil.”

“I’m fortunate to be able to combine food and cannabis, two things that I love,” Saeed says, absolutely in his trademark stoner-intellectual vibe. For as much ganja in which he partakes, Saeed is well-versed, sophisticated even, when it comes to his stance on marijuana and its representation in the media.

Saeed was already a music journalist for Vice when he randomly wrote the article, “I Just Want My Big Bag of Weed Back” in October 2012. His editor asked him to make it a regular column, which became "Weediquette." Colorado and Washington legalized weed two weeks later and there was no looking back. Saeed had begun his career in cannabis media at the perfect moment in American history.

After "Weediquette," Saeed went on to co-host Vice Does America, where he and his colleagues took a road trip across the country in an RV, speaking with voters and exploring the land of the free during the polarizing 2016 election. Bong Appétit was his last project with Vice, highlighting cannabis-infused cuisine through cookoffs and with guests like Wiz Khalifa. As of now, the show still airs, though Saeed is no longer the host.

“Most of the cannabis content out there is disappointing,” he says.

However, his current work with Ben Sinclair on the clever and timely HBO series High Maintenance, is anything but that. The show follows The Guy, a seedy weed dealer who bikes around Brooklyn and Manhattan delivering grass to a myriad of clientele. On a 4/20 episode titled “Brad Pitts,” Saeed implores The Guy to take a dab before a delivery to an uptight cancer patient who needs to work up an appetite.

High Maintenance is a brilliant portrayal of New York City told through the lens of cannabis. Transcending the typical stoner stereotype, The Guy’s deliveries make their way to characters including an asexual magician and a cross-dressing author. Sinclair and Saeed are currently working on a film together which Saeed described as a “prison dance film,” in which cannabis is not a central theme.

click to enlarge Saeed takes pride in his Pakistani roots. - ABDULLAH SAEED
Saeed takes pride in his Pakistani roots.
Abdullah Saeed
When asked about how his Pakistani roots and ethnic name have played a role in his American media career, Saeed is proud to have stood his ground. He chose not to anglicize his name, noting that even when brown people are represented in entertainment, it is in the most vanilla way. To Saeed, it has always been important to keep his identity.

“I have had kids come up to me like, ‘Hey man, I’ve never seen a brown guy on TV doing whatever he wants, smoking a bunch of weed.’”

A minority who advocates for cannabis, Saeed understands that he has the opportunity to break barriers in two vastly different arenas, and seems prepared to take on that unique challenge. He is using his passion for marijuana to portray the plant in a more positive light. Bob Marley once prophesied, “herb is the healing of a nation.”

As the legalization movement in America pushes forward, Saeed is seemingly on his way to prove just that.
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Natasha Yee is a freelance writer and yoga teacher who likes to explore the city. She considers the thesaurus her best friend.
Contact: Natasha Yee