Edibles have always been around in the cannabis world as an option for both recreational and medicinal partakers. When cannabis is ingested (as opposed to inhaled), it goes through an entirely different pathway in the body, resulting in a different experience for the senses. Effects on perception, sensation, and relaxation come on much more gradually and with a longer degree of latency (people don’t tend to feel the effects of the THC and CBD content in their edibles for a few hours).
While most everyone is familiar with the snack variety of edibles — we’re talking brownies and space cakes– there is a whole new echelon of edibles that are making their way onto the scene in the form of (truly) high class dining. And even though edibles tend to be associated with baked goods soaring with high potency formulas and recipes, there are a few pioneering companies and individuals who are working to fuse the growing cannabis industry with the gourmet food industry.
Redefining Edibles — Fine Cuisine with Cannabis on the Menu
Trained and seasoned professionals with backgrounds in fine cuisine and event planning are combining their expertise with their belief in the cannabis industry to propose a wholly different kind of culinary experience that can appeal to veteran and novice cannabis users alike.
With cannabis now legally permitted for recreational use in eight states and for medicinal use in over two dozen in the United States, there is a big niche market available to restaurateurs and other business innovators who see the potential for a more serious relationship between the cannabis and food industries. As the idea is still new (or at the very least, not as established as picking up some brownies from the dispensaries), there are a few different entry points into this exploration of cannabis in different realms than it has been traditionally seen.
In one part of the playing field, there are pop-up restaurants specializing in multi-course meals that incorporate cannabis into any number of gourmet mainstays such as tri-tip steak, duck confit, parsnip roulade, and creme brulee. These include supper clubs like Sinsemil.la in New York City, that charge a premium of around $200 a seat at these exclusive dining events. Other similar cannabis-infused menus and banquets around the country can range anywhere from $20 to $500 a head.
There are others working as personal chefs for hire, such as Jeff the 420 Chef, a man who has come to renown in the last few years for personalizing events for his clients by working with them to develop the menu and to choose the right strain for the desired experience.
Edibles Making Their Way into Event Planning
More and more cannabis-friendly event planning companies and caterers are emerging, as well. Businesses like Edible Events and Cannabis Catering are part of a burgeoning network of cannabis-friendly vendors that consumers can actively seek out and hire for their big gatherings like weddings, corporate events, and retreats.
As is the hope when a new and viable market space emerges, there is a lot of room for a lot of different ideas from various companies. However, they all seem to be operating off of the same ideal — that cannabis use in society needs to be normalized and that the old stereotypes need to be broken down. By moving forward with gourmet cannabis dining as a serious endeavor, these companies are further legitimizing the cannabis industry as something that isn’t reserved for a particular subset of individuals. Instead, they would like to see it considered by the populace as something on par with fine wine — something that isn’t for everyone, necessarily, but is just another offering for those that prefer it and wish to partake and try.
Incorporating Cannabis as an Ingredient in the Right Doses
Another big similarity in approach is how to handle dosage when it comes to cannabis-infused food. These cannabis chefs take their recipes very seriously, and consider the infusion of cannabis with great attention and detail. Many of them endeavor not to have any of the food taste of cannabis unless it will bring out the right flavors in the meal. Cooks have developed different ways of infusing the cannabinoids THC and CBD into butter and other cooking oils to create cannabutters and cannaoils that they can incorporate into a number of artisanally-crafted meals without disrupting the original flavor profiles.
The bigger ambition is to cultivate the right kind of dining sensation overall by meticulously crafting the proper dosage throughout the meal so that diners can be more fully aware of the flavors, aromas, textures, and ambiance from first to last course.
While edibles have traditionally been something to knock people off their feet with super high doses, cannabis cuisine establishments are very careful to calculate doses for their dining parties in order to ensure that everyone’s experience is enjoyable. Especially since these meals are often paired with wine, the goal of a gourmet cannabis meal is not to get knocked out by too potent a dose, but to have a wonderful night of company, good food, and relaxed, happy diners.
As the new market continues to experiment with cannabis cuisine both on the consumer and on the producer side, outdated and inaccurate stereotypes are being broken down. Aficionados of both cannabis and of gourmet food are opening up their minds (and their wallets) to try a new way of enjoying meals, and businesses are pleased to incorporate a new revenue stream into their offerings.
With a changing political and social climate, cannabis cuisine chefs are encouraged to continue to create new dishes that explore and fulfill their interests in food, and the new cannabis ingredient that can unlock the ingredients in a whole different way. We’ve seen everything from carrot confit gnocchi with cannabis-infused pea emulsion to New York strip steak with parsnip puree and a “medicated” red wine reduction, ending with a sticky toffee pudding with toasted coconut and cannabis-infused chocolate.
As more businesses get into the game, and more consumers come out to stir up demand, we’re sure to see a deliciously satisfying surge in this new industry sector.