When Indian American actor and screenwriter Sujata Day got the call to be the host of a Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) cooking show, she was hesitant to take the role, noting that she had insufficient cooking skills and experience with the game.
The last time she had played the fantasy tabletop role-playing game was six years ago when her friends created “Girls, Guts, Glory,” a 10-episode YouTube series in which they dressed up as D&D characters.
“Wizards of the Coast saw the videos and they invited us up to Washington to play at their headquarters,” Day tells NextShark. “Then last Christmas, I got the call to the offer. And I don't know how to cook, and I also haven't played Dungeons & Dragons since ‘Girls, Guts, Glory.’ I was very honest with them and they were like, ‘No, it's fine. We're gonna hook you up with a co-host that is a professional chef and he still regularly plays Dungeons & Dragons and knows a lot about it.’”
Day was partnered with content creator and corporate chef Mike Haracz, forming their platonic ship name “MikeJata” for the D&D-themed cooking show “Heroes’ Feast.” In the project, Day and Haracz prepare dishes, desserts and cocktails from the D&D cookbook with the help of special guests, including Kelen Coleman, Khary Payton, Michelle Nguyen Bradley, Jonah Ray and Freddie Wong, to name a few.
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Through their food preparations, Day was able to draw parallels between the collaborative and improvisational nature of acting on stage and the creative process in the kitchen. She lauded Haracz’s flexibility as a chef.
“I think something that was really breathtaking and refreshing from Chef Mike is that he wouldn't be a stickler for things. We would improvise in the kitchen, not only with our words, but with our ingredients and our food and measurements. So I feel like there's a bunch of parallels from acting and filmmaking to also cooking. It really gelled well for me,” Day says.
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She mentions learning the “claw technique” for cutting onions, which improved her safety and efficiency when cooking. Haracz cites other useful tips, such as efficient whisking for making whipped cream or meringue and opening a beer bottle with the back end of a chef knife — though he acknowledges the potential risks with the latter. He says these practical tips and tricks are shared throughout the episodes, offering viewers useful insights into cooking.
“We certainly wanted to make something opposite of a Gordon Ramsay [show],” Haracz says. “‘Heroes’ Feast’ is very approachable. We're trying to teach. If you make mistakes, we'll fix it. We'll figure it out or deal with it. It was very much geared towards people who cannot cook at all or might be nervous or scared about going in the kitchen. It was definitely a more fun atmosphere as opposed to an iron chef battle competing against whoever.”
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Day expresses her excitement about the storytelling aspect of D&D, connecting it with the lore discussed in the show. She believes "Heroes’ Feast" is accessible to those unfamiliar with both cooking and D&D. Haracz also highlights the diversity in the cast and crew, emphasizing the show's approachability and inclusive atmosphere.
“I just hope that people see that it is super approachable,” he says. “And I hope our tagline of ‘Everyone is welcome at our table’ resonates with the audience to just be nice, positive, enjoy some differences and learn and create. I hope that's what translates from the screen to the audience.”
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“Heroes’ Feast” is one of the three original series of Hasbro Entertainment’s new streaming channel, “Dungeons and Dragons: Adventures,” which debuted on Monday. The channel is free with ads and is currently available on Amazon’s Freevee and Plex. The other two D&D shows are “Faster, Purple Worm! Kill! Kill!,” which serves up a comedic mayhem with tabletop gaming stars and celebrity guest players, and “Encounter Party,” where seven actors play D&D to create an improvised high fantasy adventure story. Viewers can tune into new episodes for each series twice weekly.
Watch NextShark’s full interview with Chef Mike Haracz and Sujata Day below:
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