The world of edibles has moved far past the haphazardly crafted medicine brownie into a land glittering with state of the art cooking technology and perfumed with the aroma of gourmet dining. While medicating is the primary reason many pot users consume edibles, there is a segment of the market that is looking for more. Sure, getting high is a nice effect, but these consumers want the food to be just as good if not better than the cerebral effect pot induces. The following cannabis chefs have made it their mission to create a holistic, sensual dining experience that leaves their patrons simultaneously wanting more and feeling totally satisfied.
With almost 20 years of culinary experience and the most recent of those years devoted to cooking with cannabis, Livvie Smalls (Liv Vasquez) literally brings her extensive knowledge of cannabis and food to the table for her patrons to enjoy. This Oregon based chef specializes in creating pop-up dining events during which cannabis-infused vegan and vegetarian dishes and drinks are consumed in unique environments. Her most recent High Noon Brunch turned a greenhouse into a restaurant, and the food served was grown in the very room where her guests dined. Smalls makes education an important part of her program. As her patrons enjoy their meals, she explains how the cannabinoids used in her cooking will be absorbed and the kind of highs and therapeutic attributes they can expect to experience.
Michael Magallanes, the founder of San Francisco’s Opulent Chef, brings the 9 to 10 courses of gourmet cooking patrons expect from Mourad, one of San Francisco’s most well-known fine dining establishments and one of the restaurants where Magallanes worked as a chef, into the privacy of his patrons’ homes. Magallanes’ services include pop up dinners, private catering, and private workshops that expose diners to exquisite cannabis-infused meals. Magallanes cuts no corners when it comes to ensuring that his guests have an enjoyable high—the precise chef has his dishes lab tested so he knows the cannabinoid levels present in each one. Magallanes uses that data to create the right dish for each diner, a level of customization that can make a huge difference for a patron with a low THC tolerance. For Magallanes and his patrons, the dining experience is not just about the cerebral effects—it’s also about the food, the company, and the luxury.
This New York chef renowned for his Filipino cuisine may live in a state where cannabis is barely legal for medical use, but he hasn’t let that stop him from diving into the world of fine cannabis dining. Trinidad and his business partner Doug Cohen founded 99th Floor, an invite-only cannabis club. If invited, patrons can expect to be led to a secret location where a pop up restaurant awaits them. The multi-course meal will be expertly dosed so that guests leave feeling relaxed and euphoric rather than wasted and immobile. The goal behind these dinners is to normalize cannabis by pairing it with delicious food. Everyone likes food, and most people enjoy a gentle intoxicant—like wine or beer—alongside it. Trinidad just wants to open that shortlist up to cannabis too.
Meet the Los Angeles-based Herbal Chef, a science and biology student whose laboratory is the kitchen. Sayegh is uncompromising when it comes to the quality of his ingredients. He infuses cannabis into his dishes, but only after he knows that the food itself has met his standard of excellence. The Herbal Chef’s services include large-scale caterings, private meals, business events, and meal prep. His fine-dining experience includes wine, music, art, and an entertaining and informative education. Widely regarded as one of the best cannabis chefs in the world, Sayegh is well on his way to achieving one of his primary goals: showing the world that cannabis is not the menace it has for so long been made out to be.
Formerly an anti-drug counselor who spent her time telling kids to stay away from weed, Andrea Drummer has made a 180 when it comes to her relationship with cannabis. After a childhood spent barbequing, eating corn straight out of the ground from which it grew, and a young adulthood honing her culinary skills at Le Cordon Bleu, it’s safe to say that Drummer’s relationship with cooking is contoured and runs deep. In 2012, Drummer added to that complexity when she founded Elevation VIP Co-op, a Los Angeles medical marijuana dispensary specializing in infusing high-quality cannabis with equally high-quality ingredients. So what caused Drummer to reevaluate her judgment of pot? According to the LA Weekly, she worked for a successful, hard-working LA attorney who happened to be a daily cannabis consumer and realized first hand that her belief that pot users were all lazy was seriously flawed. Not long after that, a friend of hers asked her to infuse some trim into a dish. Drummer made a batch of bruschetta that she found so delicious, she had several helpings. After that, she decided to incorporate cannabis into her cooking for a living.
In 2015, Chef Coreen Carroll and her fiancé Ryan Bush founded the Cannaisseur Series, a clandestine pop-up San Francisco dining experience designed for the cannabis enthusiast and novice alike. More than getting her patrons inebriated, Carroll is interested in showing her guests how delectable the marriage between cannabis and good food can really be. Appetizers feature cannabis-infused dishes, but only with a maximum of 5mg THC. The rest of the courses are not infused with THC but with non-psychoactive compounds like CBD, THCA, and terpenes. However, they do come paired with locally produced flower. The low dose in the infused foods allows guests to enjoy their meal without worrying about over-intoxicating if they happen to like a particular dish enough to have multiple bites. But the provision of flower with the meal allows guests to get as lifted as they’d like.