Asheville chef Meherwan Irani teaches Ludacris to cook in new Discovery special

Mackensy Lunsford
Asheville Citizen Times
Special guest chef Meherwan and Host Ludacris at Cherian’s Market in Luda Can’t Cook, Special 1.

ASHEVILLE - Even if Chris “Ludacris” Bridges is a hip-hop icon, Meherwan Irani is a local hero in his own right.

Now chef Irani, who has three Asheville restaurants and a spice factory, with other restaurants in Charlotte and Georgia, is teaching Ludacris how to cook.

Besides making music, Ludacris is also a restaurateur who owns Chicken-n-Beer in Atlanta. Even so, he's no top chef, a fact alluded to in the title of the one-hour Discovery+ special, Luda Can’t Cook, which began streaming Feb. 25. 

"Ludacris actually cannot cook," said Irani. "It's a premise, but it's actually true. And that's what was so fun about the show — no one was pretending."

“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,” said Ludacris in a press release from Discovery+. 

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In the special, Irani tries to teach Ludacris to up his culinary game, offering the hip-hop star a master class in the foundations of Indian cuisine, including layering spices and making curry.

Irani said Ludacris had a definite on-screen persona but revealed glimpses of his real personality between takes.

"It's hard for him to not be Ludacris in public," Irani said. "Everywhere we went, at least outside, people were yelling, shouting out names of songs and wanting a selfie."

Chef Meherwan Irani with host Ludacris talking spices at Cherian’s Market in Luda Can’t Cook, Special 1.

In private, the hip-hop star discussed his family and how his wife was a more accomplished cook.

Ludacris' relationship with his mother was also on full display as the star served a menu of Indian dishes to a room of VIPs, including his mom, Roberta.

"He was still very nervous about her approval and what she thought of the food," Irani said.

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So how much did Ludacris learn?

Irani said he focused on the techniques behind Chai Pani dishes to give the star more to carry in his kitchen skills toolbox.

For example, Irani likened layering spices to painting. 

"You can't just throw colors up on a canvas, you have to layer," he said. "And he was very smart, sharp and quick on the uptake."

Even still, Irani said the three-day teaching period was "fast and furious — no pun intended."

"It was the most fun I have had in I can't remember how long," he added. More about Discovery+ here.

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Mackensy Lunsford has lived in Asheville for more than 20 years, and has been a staff writer for the Asheville Citizen Times since 2012. Lunsford is a former professional line cook and one-time restaurant owner.

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