The Hip-Hop nation knows Coolio for his unique hair and
monster hit song Gangstas Paradise from his quadruple platinum album of the
same name. While he's still got new music cooking in the studio, Coolio has been focusing
heavily on his kitchen skills for his new online show, Cooking With Coolio.
In doing his show independently on MyDamnChannel.com, Coolio
is able to give an uncensored, humorous edge to the culinary arts. We caught up
with the veteran rapper to chew the fat about the ways he turns soul food
healthy and how hes making true entertainment out of cooking.
AllHipHop.com: Tell us a little about how you came up with
the concept for your show and how things developed.
Coolio: The concept came about from just playing around. Me
and my cousin was in the kitchen one day hooking up a meal and I said, Wow,
what if we had a cooking show? It would be like this and then we started
acting it out. So we did that for a year to a year-and-a half - people would
come over and if I was cooking I would pretend like I was doing a cooking show.
It grew from that.
I started telling people about it, and I met this guy that
was a writer - we were working on something else together - and he was
interested in the cooking show. He had some people draw up some things for
kitchen gear, and then he wrote an outline and we just took it from there. We
shopped it for a while, and though we had a few offers, nobody wanted to let us
do what we wanted to do in order to make it the way we wanted to do it. Thats
how we ended up taking it to My Damn Channel, because they gave us the freedom to
do it the way we wanted to.
AllHipHop.com: How do you go about creating an episode?
Coolio: Thats Elans job, one of our writers and producers.
He came up with most of the concepts for the shows - we gave him our recipes
and then he tried to come up with concepts for each show. Originally it started
out as cooking and comedy, it ended up getting to be comedy and cooking.
We started out with concepts for the first couple of episodes,
and then we found out that only worked for a few of them. We scrapped some of
the ideas and then we just started --freestyling stuff towards the end. After
we shot the first day-and-a-half all the ideas started to grow, and then
somebody would throw in an idea and it just came together.
AllHipHop.com: Are these recipes that youve created
personally or are they family recipes?
Coolio: Its kind of weird, Ive changed all of my family
recipes, because my mom used to cook with all of those high cholesterol
ingredients and high fat ingredients. So I just took a lot of her basic recipes
and added to them. I think my spaghetti is better than hers, and that was one
of my favorite things that she cooked. I just made it a little bit better, I
just took some of those flavors out that werent absolutely necessary and
turned the fat and cholesterol meters down and we just came up with some good
Then I create as well. Its all experimentation, its just
like making music or doing art or making clothes. You do a model, a sample and
then you let people try it and you try it. Usually if I like something
everybody else is gonna like it, because Im real critical of food. If I go to
a place and buy a meal and its not good, Ill never come there again.
I pick up some concepts from restaurants that I go to, Ive
even went in the kitchen and asked the chef, What is this? How do you make
this? Ive had a bit of formal training, I dont have a diploma or anything,
but I almost finished the whole course.
AllHipHop.com: As far as being on tour and on TV sets where
youre in trailers with catered food and in different environments where youve
probably eaten really bad food over the years, have there been any red flags
for you that said, Hey I need to change the way Im cooking right now?
Coolio: Nah, not really, I got a cast iron stomach and a
high metabolism and Im regular. [laughs] My body does its job pretty well, I
dont have ulcers, stomach problems, problems with gas or anything like that.
People get older and they start going through that kind of stuff. No high blood
pressure or cholesterol, because I stopped eating that way when I was in my
early 30s. When I cook, or when Im paying for something and I have a choice,
Im eating pretty healthy stuff. I eat my greens and I get it going, its
pretty easy for me though. Ive never had a problem with that.
AllHipHop.com: Has anyone influenced you in particular, watching
them go through having high blood pressure, diabetes or things like that?
Coolio: No not really. One of the things that influenced me
a lot was eating in Italy, and being in Italy for over a month and how they
dont use butter really at all. They use olive oil, so for a lot of dishes I
substitute olive, sunflower or peanut oil for butter.
AllHipHop.com: How many episodes did you start out with?
Coolio: We did 10 for the first season.
AllHipHop.com: Would you entertain doing it on television or are you just
really adamant about sticking with this plan [on the internet]?
Coolio: Well, I suppose at this point were gonna stay on
the net because we have a lot of mature content. But if the moneys right and
people are gonna make it worth our while, then well take it to network
television or to cable. Its hilarious, but you dont even realize that youre
watching a cooking show at some points in it. Its like youre watching some
comedy, but then at the end when you see the finished product you realize,
Damn, he just showed me how to make some s**t! I could use this.
AllHipHop.com: What are some other ways that people can
reduce cholesterol and unnecessary fat when they cook soul food?
Coolio: You can use sugar substitutes. When recipes call for
pork or beef, you can use turkey instead. It just depends on what it is youre
cooking, you look at what youre cooking and say, Should I use butter here or
not? What kind of oil should I use? Should I use pork in my greens or smoked
turkey necks? When it comes to soul food, thats all you can do.
I dont do a lot of soul food. I can do soul food, but
people know how to cook soul food. The people that dont arent gonna try to
cook soul food, theyre gonna go out and buy it from somewhere. Now if youre
talking about somebody thats just starting out and wants to cook soul food, if
they dont know anybody that cooks it, then yeah, maybe I can give them a few
tips, but for the most part I do fusion more or less.
I do Mexitalian, Blasian - which is Black and Asian - like
soul rolls. Soul rolls are eggrolls but they got flavor in them. Youve never
tasted an eggroll that will taste like one of my soul rolls. I came up with that
because the traditional eggroll with all of the bean sprouts, they never put
enough meat in it. I just kind of flipped that whole concept, I still use
cabbage, but I just added a few things to it to make it taste better, and then
at the same time its still healthy.
AllHipHop.com: Are you calorie conscious when you create
your works or are you more about watching cholesterol?
Coolio: It depends on who Im cooking for. Were starting a
catering business - it depends on what the client calls for. One thing that I
refuse to substitute is flavor though. If somebody tells me, I like really
bland food Im like, Oh well you need to get another chef or caterer because
I refuse to make food without flavor. Everything I cook is well-done. I dont
cook any meat rare or medium-rare over here. But one thing about my steak is,
you dont need a knife, all you need is a fork.
AllHipHop.com: Its hard to make buttery soft steak well-done.
Coolio: Most people try to fry their steak. The only way you
can do steak on top of the oven and make it get butter soft is by smothering
it. Smothering takes away a lot of the flavor as well, especially if youre not
one of those people that likes some really well seasoned foods. It depends on
what you like, some people dont like garlic and onions. I can make stuff and
put garlic in it, and youll never know - I hide it with another flavor.
AllHipHop.com: Im sure a lot of people are going to want to
tune in and see what youve got going on.
Coolio: I would advise people to tune in. Just go to
mydamnchannel.com, it actually airs on Monday of next week. I would advise
people to check it out, youre gonna get some insight and laugh your a** off at
the same time. Then Ill give you some ways to look at some old favorites, like
caprice salad. Thats pretty basic, but Ive actually come up with another way
to do it thats not caprice salad anymore, its Coolio Caprice Salad thats
got kick. Some people like it real plain and they want to taste the flavor of
the cheese, thats what a lot of people are going for. Especially Italians,
they just put a little bit of oil on it and thats it. But I kind of flip it.
The whole premise of my style is to help people be able to
go to a regular grocery store, get a two dollar steak and make it taste like a
20 dollar prime rib. Thats my thing right there.