By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J.
Chris “Ludacris” Bridges is a hip-hop icon, accomplished actor, and successful restaurateur who is passionate about food – but he knows he “can’t cook a lick,” and in the one-hour discovery+ special “Luda Can’t Cook,” from record-breaking producer Will Packer, Ludacris gets schooled in the kitchen by James Beard Award-nominated Chef Meherwan Irani to up his culinary game with international flavors and techniques.
Indian cuisine is one of Luda’s favorites, and Chef Irani gives him a master class in the foundations, from layering spices to frying and braising and making curry. Then in a test of his newly acquired culinary skills, he cooks and serves a menu of Indian dishes Ludacris-style to a room of VIPS, including his mom, Roberta. Luda recalled in his travels of being obsessed with food and being able to sample some of the world’s greatest cuisines, and when he visited Southeast Asia, he said that he fell in love with Indian food. Can Luda master complex cuisines, or will his hopes go up in flames?
The Crusader was invited to log in to the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour recently, and I was able to gather a few juicy nuggets about special from Ludacris and Packer. No, Luda can’t cook, but he is really trying. “I absolutely love food and have always appreciated the art of cooking, but I can’t lie—I have no idea what I’m doing in the kitchen. I’m on a mission to change that and master one cuisine at a time—it’s going to be delicious,” Luda said.
He added that he was glad to participate in the show, because “so many men and women can’t really cook, and they can relate.” When asked if he as a multi-hyphenated artist ever expected to see himself on a cooking show, Luda replied: “I didn’t envision this; that’s why it is so exciting.” He said that when he didn’t have two nickels to rub together, he had to get creative with government cheese and sardines.
He said that Indian food is so far from anything that people would expect him to be involved in. “Cooking means knowing how to do everything from scratch. This opened up my mind about how to make things [dishes] your own.”
For his mom and the VIP’s, Luda made up his own menu that included Southern style pakoras with okra; chicken wing Luda marsala pops; and beef curry. And while earlier in the episode, the chef had explained that goat is the preferred protein in India, Luda said, “It was time to put the Luda spin on these dishes and make something fresh.”
Finally, Luda said: “None of this was just for show.” Packer added: “It was fun to see Luda in an environment that he’s not comfortable in. I saw him go through the process. The juxtaposition of a uniquely talented mega star like Luda against a backdrop that he has no real knowledge or skill set in makes for some highly entertaining shenanigans.”
“Luda Can’t Cook” begins streaming on Thursday, February 25, exclusively on discovery+. For information, visit https://www.discoveryplus.com/.