Abdullah Saeed’s Canntastic Voyage: Part 2

Working Alongside Ry and Vanessa—Bong Appétit Work Culture

The Bong Appétit team works long-ass hours. More often than not, filming lasts 14 hours a day for five days a week, sometimes more. “There is a lot of down time, too. Vanessa grinds super hard in the kitchen. She is literally in the kitchen the entire time, keeping the chef’s energy up.” Ry and Abdullah spend a lot of time on set smoking weed together and talking about cannabis. “We [me and Ry] are waiting for set-up, he’s doing infusions and I am with the guests, waiting for stand-ups and checking in on the kitchen.” While the team smokes a lot of flower on set, due to its plentiful availability, Ry is a dab dude. Abdullah, asks Ry a ton of questions about dabbing “like a kid,” Abdullah laughs. “I like dabbing with him, ‘cause he knows everything about every strain, so I am always like, ‘What do I taste? What’s that? What’s this?’”

After filming the show, many of the chefs and guests reach out to the crew to say it’s “the most ridiculous, fun, awesome thing [they’ve] ever done.” At the end of the day, Bong Appétit doesn’t have “all the bells and whistles of bigger fancier food shows, but we have a good vibe on set, and we have a lot of fun throughout.”

Getting his foot in the cannabis industry door

After graduating from college, Abdullah came to the realization that landing a job in the saturated marketing industry was futile. “I was living with my mom in north Philly during fucking recession time…and I found an ad in a bathroom at Temple University for a hip-hop mag that was starting. I took the ad, started writing reviews of mix tapes [for free], and eventually they started giving me a few dollars for each review.” He later landed a job as the Reviews Editor for the mag, and Abdullah was able to scratch out a living. “At that time the cost of living in Philly was pretty low, thankfully,” says Abdullah. “I was able to make a living writing freelance. I don’t know if that’s possible in New York anymore. At that time, online journalism was starting to pop off, before it hit a fever pitch.”

Between freelance work and DJing twice a week, he made it work. Abdullah’s guiding credo throughout his writing career has been, “Do something that you can do every day that you don’t mind getting up for. Make sure it’s something that inspires you, ‘cause shit can get boring—even shit that you like, and always give a shit about what you do.” After a thoughtful pause, he adds, laughing, “You can’t just write about buttons. No one cares about buttons, even if you care about them, and they inspire you.”

Abdullah grew up in a Muslim household that wasn’t super religious, but they still didn’t eat pork. “It was cultural, not so much religious,” he clarifies, which gave him the idea for his blog series, Adventures in Pork. “I started eating only pork when I was 25. I wrote about everything that I ate. I grew up in three distinct cultures and have a fairly developed pallet. I am not a fucking taste master, but I can eat, make and understand all different types of food.” The blog was controversial enough that it caught steam. The Philadelphia Weekly reached out to Abdullah to write the cover story for their food issue and it ignited his career, eventually landing him a job with MTV in NYC. After six months, he got fired—turns out him and the Editor didn’t see eye to eye. “Right after I got fired, I had to hustle.”

It was about this time that the equipment needed to make electronic music at home proliferated. From L.A. to Berlin, kids were producing their own music in their parent’s garages. SoundCloud, Bandcamp and Mixcloud popped up, making distribution easy. Abdullah has produced electronic music his entire life, and saw this as an opportunity to write. “When Noisey launched, I started doing stuff for them.” Then when The Creators Project dropped, Abdullah started writing for them, too. On a whim, Abdullah wrote a piece called, “I Just Want My Big Bag of Weed Back,” a comical lament to a bag of weed he lost while moving to a new neighborhood. VICE’s Wilbert Cooper thought it was a riot and wanted to publish it. “It got a response, and Krishna Andavolu (the then Weekend Editor for VICE.com) was like ‘I’m looking for a new franchise. Do you wanna do this every week?’” And that was the birth of VICELAND’s Weediquette.

Abdullah’s dream chef on Bong Appétit

Putting his head down and thinking for a moment, Abdullah suddenly blurts out, “Martin Yan! He would be epic and legendary to have on the show.” Of course he mentions famous chef, Mario Batali. Abdullah’s eyes get wide, and he shouts, “Les Stroud! I love Survivorman.” Les is one of Abdullah’s greatest inspirations. “I would love to do an episode with him. Me, Ry and Vanessa surviving with Les Stroud. All we have is weed and Les Stroud. That would be AMAZING!”

Andrea Larson

Andrea is a Seattle native with a passion for the storytelling process. When she isn't curating content for DOPE she can be found binge listening to podcasts, skiing at a local PNW mountain or catching a drag show at Le Faux on Capitol Hill.

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