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These Chefs Are Killing The Cannabis Culinary Game


Uproxx

For the longest time, cooking with cannabis meant spending too long making cannabutter on your stove or in a crockpot so that it could be thrown into some brownies or Rice Krispies treats. It wasn’t fancy but it got you baked and — let’s be real — that was the goal. But increased legalization has led to refined cultivation that places quality kush in the hands of culinarians who see it as another ingredient to be explored in the context of their craft.

We gathered a list of ten people combining food and cannabis in creative ways that are heavy on quality ingredients and technique. These people have scads of knowledge to drop. Every single one of them would say that working with cannabis has sharpened their skills in the kitchen, too — because keeping dosages consistent requires hard science and strict measurements. At home, you can toss your THC-infused ingredients around willy-nilly and spend the night lying on the kitchen floor waiting for the dizziness to pass. But when people spend hundreds of dollars a plate they aren’t looking to ride the linoleum.

Some of the chefs included have edibles lines, there are a few cookbook authors, and a ton of them host fancy ass dinners straight out of the best kitchens in the nation. This is a great primer for who to follow on social media (and whose events to attend) when you like your food to be capable of giving you a solid buzz.

Andrea Drummer

A legit luminary in cannabis cuisine, Chef Drummer established herself in the field in much the same way that most top chefs do: education and impressive employment. She attended Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena and went on to cook at the Ritz-Carlton in L.A. as well as under renowned chef Neal Fraser at Redbird and Vibiana. Her take on food is definitely creative and French-inspired, with a hefty dose of technique and a focus on locally sourced organic and seasonal ingredients. If you haven’t tasted her food in LA, you may know her from Netflix’s Cooking on High — she was in three episodes.

In 2012, Drummer’s culinary life was forever changed when she was introduced to cannabis butter. After making her own, she continued experimenting and never lost her focus on creating high-end dining with weed. Eventually launching Elevation VIP Cooperative, Inc., the chef creates individualized catered meals for prescriptive clients, pairing cannabis strains with gourmet dishes. Think Blue Dream infused poached beet salad with goat cheese and pine nuts, seared duck with cauliflower and chanterelles and a blueberry gastrique infused with Blue Dream, and jerk-seasoned rib eye infused with God’s Gift.

Stephany Gocobachi

Another San Francisco treat, Stephany Gocobachi is the founder of Flour Child Collective — an edible and topical company founded with Akhil Khadse of the famous Bi-Rite Market. She is committed to approaching edibles with the same high standards one would approach fine dining. Certainly, her mindset owes something to her education at New York University, where she majored in food sustainability and social entrepreneurship. Baffled that edibles in San Francisco, a city that otherwise takes artisan food culture quite seriously, weren’t being made with the highest quality ingredients, Gocobachi made one of her main goals to only use the best fruit and cannabis flowers in her products.

Gocobachi is well known for her unbending approach, as she was deemed the “Alice Waters of cannabis” by Maya Elisabeth who co-founded the Whoopi & Maya line of weed products with Whoopi Goldberg. Gocobachi’s jams and granolas are made with seasonable, local, sustainably grown, organic products that are meant to be fully enjoyed for their flavor. And that’s not just the fruit and grains, that’s the cannabis too. Gocobachi takes pride in pairing the flavors of strains with those of the foods she uses them with to create delectable marriages and gorgeous dishes.

Jessica Catalano

Denver’s Jessica Catalano is killing it on the culinary cannabis front. With a degree in Pastry Arts, Culinary Arts, and Food Service Management, she has achieved success as a food writer, a professional cannabis chef, a recipe developer, an edibles expert, a pioneer of cannabis cuisine that is strain specific, a founder of The Ganja Kitchen Revolution, and as an author (of The Ganja Kitchen Revolution: The Bible of Cannabis Cuisine published by Green Candy Press). Legit, she is called the “OG Cannabis Chef” by a fair number of people in the know.

Catalano started experimenting with strain-specific cooking and baking in 2009, before launching a blog in June of 2010 to share the recipes she was developing with medical marijuana patients. It didn’t take long to build a following and a book deal soon followed. Her innovation was using the flavor profiles of strains to enhance the taste of the foods she prepared. These days, that’s the basis of the approach taken by every prominent culinarian in the cannabis world. Her recent recipes include super lemon haze hollandaise, cannabis-infused PBR fondue, and banana kush stroopwaffle.

Miguel Trinidad

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Chef Trinidad is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education in New York and he quickly rose from line cook to executive chef at Soho hotspot Lola. After spending three months in the Philippines in 2007, he was seduced utterly by the Chinese, Japanese, Malay, and Spanish influences of the small nation’s cuisine, prompting him to open Maharlika, a modern Filipino restaurant. The Dominican-born chef became the face of Filipino food in New York, garnering rave reviews.

In 2015, Trinidad and partner Doug Cohen launched 99th Floor — a company that hosts private, invite-only events featuring superb cannabis gastronomy. To attend these dinners, you have to know somebody because no tickets are sold and no money changes hand. It’s an assemblage of magazine editors, CEOs, venture capitalists, and designers. These are swanky folk. People who found their way to the table in locales like Los Angeles, Denver, And San Francisco enjoyed five-course meals with dishes like infused lobster risotto, infused steak tartare, and sweet-and-sour diesel fried chicken. He is also big on strain-specific cooking.

Scott Durrah

Scott Durrah isn’t just a man who has launched five restaurants, including Santa Monica’s The Jamaican Café and Jezebel’s Southern Bistro & Bar in Denver. He is also the owner (along with wife Wanda James) of Simply Pure, the first black-owned cannabis dispensary in the United States. Though he proudly proclaims himself a cook since he was six, his priority currently is to inspire the evolution of cannabis using safe products, education, cooking, and food, which is why in 2010 Simply Pure launched the first line of edibles that was a healthy alternative to what was available.

The Simply Pure line was the first to cook with whole bud and guarantee consistent dosing thanks to a full staff of professional certified chefs using a commercial kitchen. The products (which have included apple preserves and marinara sauce) were also vegan, organic, and gluten-free. Durrah now stages private cannabis dinners and cooks for retired professional athletes who are attempting to cope with chronic pain using infused meals and edibles as an alternative to prescription pain therapy. He creates dishes like smoked apple-glazed roast pork loin with walnut and cannabis leaf stuffing and leaves THC-infused olive oil on his guest’s tables — so they can add it to their meal or dip their bread in it to increase the meal’s dosage.

Unika Noiel

Chef Noiel grew up eating a lot of soul and Southern food. Though she is from Tacoma, Washington, her grandparents are pure Louisiana and their love of the cuisine shaped the family in a lot of ways, as evidenced by uncles who own barbecue restaurants and a grandmother who is a culinary school graduate. So when she opened Soul-Full Foods, a catering company, in 2006, it was no surprise. From that point, Noiel had a varied career, enrolling in culinary school in 2013, as well as working in a jazz lounge, Texas school cafeteria, nursing home, and some high-end Italian restaurants.

Introduced to infused foods via a lollipop, her sensitivity to conditions like diabetes that don’t allow people to ingest a lot of sweets inspired her to begin working with infused savory items. She became known as the premier cannabis-infused soul food chef in the Pacific Northwest, where she was hosting fellowship meals through her company Luvn Kitchn. Unfortunately, the city of Seattle cracked down on her preparing for-profit meals until she obtains a City of Seattle cannabis license. But there’s no such thing at the moment. Noiel is at an impasse now, but we have no doubt that she will continue to innovate and find her way back to her communal dinners.

Coreen Carroll

A graduate of the San Francisco Cooking School, Carroll made a name for herself in the industry doing things like teaching at the San Francisco Cheese School, working as a butcher’s apprentice at the well-known 4505 Meats, and helping with the pop-up restaurant Subculture Dining Series by Chef Russell Jackson. The cannabis world took note when she co-founded Madame Munchie, a maker of medical macarons, which won a High Times NorCal Cannabis Cup award for best edible. However, she sold her interest in the company to start the Cannaisseur Series in 2015 with ganjapreneur and fiancé Ryan Bush.

People who attend this underground pop-up series can expect four-courses and three intermezzo flower pairings. Whether it’s brunch, dinner, or a mixer, there are low-dose infused hos d’oeuvres followed by a non-infused meal supplemented by artisan flower from local growers. In addition, the menu typically includes non-psychoactive ingredients from the pant, like non-decarbed flower and CBD. Though she grows her own bud and will infuse it into things like polenta cakes with goat cheese on crostini, a main dish is more likely to include candied canna leaves or Parisian gnocchi with canna leaf herbs.

In general, Carroll thinks cheese is the best pairing for cannabis — recommending a Strawberry OG with a Point Reyes Bay Blue studded strawberry and field green salad with endive to anyone feeling ready to experiment.

Jeff Danzer

@jeffthe420chef

Los Angeles-based chef Jeff Danzer stands apart from the other chefs on this list for a few reasons. Though he has been called “The Julia Child of Weed,” he has no formal education in the culinary arts. Instead, he comes from the world of fashion, where he spent over 20 years as a senior marketing executive for an underwear company. However, Danzer has made a name for himself because he developed a process for creating cannabis-infused butter and coconut oil that is low on weed flavor. He reports his process removes the chlorophyll and impurities in the flower that taint infusions. Danzer’s desire to neutralize the herbaceous taste of cannabis from infusions is also quite different than the approach many culinarians are taking.

The author of The 420 Gourmet: The Art of Elevated Cannabis Cuisine and the host of Wake and Bake with JeffThe420Chef, Danzer is a busy guy. Teaching a series of classes about cooking with cannabis in medical and recreational states keeps him on the road, but he also offers private meal prep for medical marijuana patients and dinner parties, event catering, and special orders (like wedding cakes) for folks in states where recreational use is legal.

Danzer’s website has a number of recipes like vegan bacon burgers, watermelon gazpacho, cherry-glazed ham, kale and hemp seed salad, and high-CBD cannabread pudding. Plus, there are plenty of recipes and videos to help readers learn how to make their own infused fats with minimal cannabis flavor.

@jeffthe420chef

@jeffthe420chef

Monica Lo

San Francisco-based chef Monica Lo has chosen a very niche approach to cannabis cuisine by combining the trendy sous vide technique with the complexities of cooking with weed. But she did so out of necessity. Living in a dwelling with a strict no-pot policy, she didn’t have the option of decarboxylating in the oven or using one of the other smelly steps that accompany infusing fats with THC. There could be no crock pots or bubbling cauldrons on the stove. Instead, sliding some bud in a zip-sealed bag with a choice fat and submerging it in a temperature-controlled water bath with an immersion circulator was perfect for extraction without odor.

Now, she and some partners run Sous Weed, a service where clients can hire chefs to create first-rate cannabis cuisine and find recipes to make infused meals of their own. Recent recipes include pork xiao long bao made with medicated lard and sesame oil, carrot chiffon cake made with medicated vegetable oil, and Korean beef shank made with medicated grapeseed oil. Often, the recipes are collaborations with prominent brands or individuals in the cannabis community, so they are a real meeting of the minds among experts.

Holden Jagger

With a name like Holden Jagger, was it possible for this dude to not be cool? To be fair, his full name is Holden Jagger Burkons… but still. His culinary background includes stints on the pastry station under Tom Colicchio at Craft and Curtis Stone at Maude, as well as a lengthy period at members-only Soho House. Plus, he’s a Zagat 30 under 30 alum. The man has chops. The only thing he has dedicated more time to than the kitchen is growing pot. And, like other people with this combined background, he likes to blend the two. However, he isn’t an infusion guy. He is all about food and flower pairings.

In 2016, Jagger and sister Rachel Burkons founded Altered Plates — an L.A.-based culinary collective that combines food, cannabis, beverage, and hospitality. They host private cannabis pairing dinners and infused dining experiences, as well as crafting CBD mocktails and instituting brand education. They are leading California’s contemporary culinary cannabis industry with custom-events, activations, and education. Though this bespoke culinary cannabis is certainly reserved for the moneyed marijuana enthusiast, that doesn’t make it any less aspirational.

Who doesn’t want to try Jagger’s own cultivated strains of cannabis? He pairs a fruit-forward Pineapple with desserts, ceviche, and fish or an earthy Pine with gamey meats. Each meal is a unique experience from a top culinary mind.

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