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Chris Kilham by Jeff Skeirik

Meet the World’s Top Cannabis Chefs
CULTURE
Sheryll Alexander
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“Why would you want to get the cannabis flavor out of your foods? I would never recommend such a thing!” exclaims Kilham. “The aroma and fragrance of cannabis offers a profusion of aroma sols, various fruity, spicy, skunk, floral and other emissions that tease the mind through the senses of smell and taste. Embrace the nuances of cannabis as an ingredient. This is a big part of cannabis cookery.”

annabis is exploding on today’s almost bloated medical cannabis and recreational edibles markets, but what about the herb in fine dining? Mixologists are just beginning to muddle cannabis into iconic cocktails, and chefs in Europe and on both coasts have conquered “hidden” dinners. There’s even been hosted “weed bars” at weddings. With so many states going recreational and a big push to lift federal controlled substance prohibition, it is only a matter of time for cannabis to hit boutique bistro menus, right? Yes and no.

Yes, there are truly some remarkable cannabis chefs and bakers who are intent on bringing this medicinal to the plate and to print. No, cannabis in cookery isn’t always tasty, and you still can’t sit down to a nine-course cannabis dinner at your favorite fine dining restaurant. The reasons why are both complicated, yet simple to understand.

Firstly, it’s not easy to coax the cancer-fighting and good-feeling chemicals (mostly THC and CBD) out of the cannabis flower and certainly not in exact measured doses. Secondly, each chef has their favorite way to infuse cannabis into a cooking product. It wasn’t until this February that the “standard dose” of 10mg per serving was set (100mg maximum) in Colorado, so chefs finally have a target to hit when concocting cannabis-infused dishes.

For most foodies, however, cannabis does not make a gourmet meal, because it is just not that tasty. The overpowering taste does not enhance a dish as foodies would expect, but must be masked over somehow. In fact, most cannabis chefs are renowned for their abilities to standardize dosage and to mask the hideous taste rather than coax it into ever more edible splendor as with most “new” culinary ingredients.

Still, some chefs are focusing on cannabis because of their love for this humble plant and its seemingly miraculous healing abilities throughout human history. These canna-entrepreneurs are bringing cannabis back in both old and unexpected new ways. Some are in it for this new health food’s market potential in the billions of dollars and others seem to be truly intrigued by the plant’s healing abilities.

Because restaurants have been unable to cook with cannabis (and mixologists handcuffed to mere herb-based simple syrups), the mother of all herbs has been mostly relegated to at-home cookery and medicinals.

Although cannabis has never killed anyone, no chef nor restaurant wants to feed their guest into a catatonic state. Most certainly, feeding someone vast quantities of cannabis at one meal could lead to a legal nightmare.

The result has been secret cannabis dinners by clandestine chefs at undisclosed locations mostly New York, London, Copenhagen and Vegas. But not for long. The cannabis cuisine revolution is about to hit mainstream culture big time with now dozens of prominent chefs and, perhaps more importantly, the release of many illuminating cannabis cuisine cookbooks, including Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook and HERB: Mastering the Art of Cooking with Cannabis.

Meet the Top Cannabis Chefs

So, who are these pioneering cannabis chefs? Here’s our short list...

October 2015