You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Cannabis Cuisine Lights Up Cooking Shows, Restaurant Menus

Marijuana-infused fare is not for hippies anymore, as foodies get high and heal.

The first time I can remember a reference to eating marijuana came as a teenager seeing the prescient 1968 satire, “I Love You, Alice B. Toklas!,” in which Peter Sellers transforms into a hippie after inadvertently dosing on pot brownies, its title a reference to the cookbook recipe from one of Gertrude Stein’s fellow avant-gardists.

Some 50 years later, tattooed chef Luke Reyes is preparing an all plant-based, cannabis-infused, seven-course meal at his downtown Los Angeles loft apartment on Spring Street for an invitation-only gathering of about 20, as tables are lined end to end in his living room.

The Massachusetts native, who is about to open his own “non-THC” ramen shop on 9th and Broadway, is chopping up some purslane, a common succulent that is found growing through sidewalk cracks and can be eaten like lettuce. He and his handful of assistants are also hard at work readying his take on tartare, with beets, tahini and sesame, using the Bill Gates-backed Impossible Foods’ soy-based potato starch, which tastes just like burger meat and he’ll later use in a delicious infused Bolognese pasta. The dishes all incorporate Reyes’ own THC-laced olive oil Vireo, which hit the market Sept. 1. His in-home pop-up dinner service La Hoja also launched that day.

“What we do is not just get you high, but also give you an overall experience that involves the medicinal side,” says Reyes, who continues to oversee preparations. “It’s pointless otherwise.”

Indeed, as the wine flows and aromatic joints are passed around the table, the effect is stimulating, but not overwhelming, the slight taste of cannabis working with the flavor of the food to create an intriguing sensation. Every teaspoon of Vireo oil represents 1.5mg of THC, while each dish includes two to four teaspoons, meaning an entire meal will amount to between 21mg and 42 mg, which is enough to get you pretty toasted. Still, even after the final dessert of berries, granita, lemon and sherbet, there is no sense of feeling either hungover or bloated — the more you eat, the better the food tastes, and the more relaxed you become.

Reyes has applied to the lottery to obtain one of the eight licenses being made available in West Hollywood for consumption lounges, which will be the next step toward the establishment of restaurants serving THC-infused meals. “It’s the natural progression for what we do,” says Luke. “And I won’t have to keep moving the couch to fit all these tables into my apartment.”

According to Organa Brands president Chris Driessen, edibles and concentrates now represent nearly 50% of the cannabis market in Colorado, and that figure will go up as states begin to pass adult-use legislation. “With the ability to slice and dice cannabis oil in a seemingly infinite number of ways, it affords more opportunities to market and brand these products,” he says. “With flower, there are just a limited number of ways to package it.”

“We have investors calling us every day wanting to be a part of this. This is ready to blow up.”
Bob Summers

Eating cannabis is different from either smoking or vaping it. Depending on one’s metabolism, and the ability to absorb the THC into the bloodstream, the recommended doses vary — often it seems like nothing is happening, you gobble down a couple more Cheeba Chews, and next thing you know, your feet are wobbling like one of those blow-up installations outside a used car lot.

“I don’t care for medicated foods,” says noted West Hollywood dispensary owner and “Disjointed” marijuana consultant Dina Browner, who nevertheless hosts her own semi-regular “Dinner With Dr. Dina” cooking show on her Instagram account. “I prefer head highs to body highs. If I eat an edible, it feels like my skin is crawling.”

Still, gummies, chocolate and candy are among the most popular dispensary edibles. No wonder a Cannabis confectioner like Dixie, which works with Snoop Dogg and WBC boxer Ava Knight, who uses THC+CBD products as part of her training recovery program, is also looking to expand its footprint — with plans to manufacture double its output in 2019.

Pot cooking shows are now the rage, with Netflix’s “Cooking on High” and Green-flower.com’s online “Doobie + Sushi Rolling” workshop, which demonstrates how to pair flower and spicy tuna in one glorious infused hand roll. Prøhbtd Media, which has raised more than $12 million in funding from investors — including Donald Glover — for cannabis-related enterprises, is producing “High Cuisine,” a 10-episode travel docuseries for TV following chefs Noah Tucker and Antony Joseph as they traverse the globe in search of mind-expanding herbs and plants, while Viceland’s “Bong Appetit” is being re-booted as a competition show with Cypress Hill’s B-Real as host. The rapper recently opened his own dispensary, Dr. Greenthumb, in his home turf of Sylmar, named after the seminal L.A. rap group’s song of the same name from its 1998 album, “Cypress Hill IV.”

“Ingesting cannabis is an entirely different effect than smoking it,” says Real, who would love to open his own smoke lounge at the new location. “When a savory, gourmet-style dish is properly infused, it’s a great alternative for people who want to consume marijuana without smoking. It also offers pain relief without the anxieties of getting high. It’s more about how your body is being affected in terms of healing.”

Bob Summers is the co-owner of Prank, a bar on 11th and Hope Streets in downtown L.A. not far from Staples Center that specializes in terpenes-infused cocktails. He also founded BotanaVista, a company with locations in L.A., Denver and Oregon which manufactures and markets both terpene and CBD oils. Terpene is the essential plant oil that provides both the taste and aroma of the cannabis, and similar to CBD, has no psychoactive ingredient but does provide body relief with its anti-inflammatory properties.

Viceland’s “Bong Appetit” reboot with hosts B-Real, left, Vanessa Lavorato, Miguel Trinidad and special judge Jairobi White.
Courtesy of Vice

Veteran bartender David Whitten is the master mixologist who comes up with the concoctions, mixing the terpene oil in with Papalote Mezcal and Johnnie Walker Black, along with non-alcoholic kombucha teas and a pineapple/ginger-flavored drink dubbed the Anti-Inflammatory. Other bars around the country, including Bubby’s in New York City, serve CBD-infused tea, while the vegetarian Mexican restaurant Gracias Madre in West Hollywood serves up cocktails such as Stoned Fruit, Sour T-iesel, Rolled Fashioned and Stoney Negroni, with 15mg of CBD tincture in each.

Summers points out that each strain of cannabis has its own distinct terpene oils that sport a different effect. Myrcene, for instance, produces a sedative effect, while Limonene offers a mood lift and energy, and while neither is psychotropic in nature, according to Summers.

“They do have a specific impact on your body. … You get a physical, rather than a mental reaction from the terpenes.

“You can drink all night and still not get a hangover or have that swollen feeling in the morning, because the terpenes and CBD are anti-inflammatories.” BotanaVista is working with a bottling company to market their terpene-infused drinks nationally.

“We have investors calling us every day wanting to be a part of this,” says Summers. “This is ready to blow up. It’s like discovering vitamins. We’ve found about 140 terpenes in the cannabis plant, and each one has a different, ameliorating effect.”

Organa Brands’ Driessen, who has recently developed a line of THC tablets dubbed Pressies, says: “Who doesn’t want to sit down to a finely crafted meal and enjoy a great experience? People are starting to replace alcohol with cannabis around the country. People enjoy eating good food and consuming marijuana, so why not put them together?”

More TV

  • OG Review

    Review: 'O.G.' on HBO

    Jeffrey Wright, the most compelling reason to watch HBO’s new film “O.G.,” is among television’s best actors at switching between codes or manners of being. On “Westworld,” his timeline-toggling android swaps personae so delicately that his performance gains in resonance when recalled in retrospect. (Perhaps that’s why Wright has been so oddly underrated through the [...]

  • Nahnatchka Khan Writers Room

    Nahnatchka Khan Exits 20th Century Fox TV for Overall Deal at Universal

    Nahnatchka Khan has signed a four-year overall deal at Universal Television. The deal brings an end to the decade-plus Khan and her Fierce Baby Productions banner spent at 20th Century Fox Television. The move will see Khan exit from her role as showrunner on ABC comedy “Fresh Off the Boat,” which she also created. The [...]

  • David Ajala

    'Nightflyers' Star David Ajala Joins CBS Drama Pilot 'Under the Bridge'

    David Ajala has been cast in a lead role in the CBS drama pilot “Under the Bridge,” Variety has learned. In the project, when a scandal rocks the medical practice she runs with her husband and their friends, a surgeon rises to the occasion and takes the lead in trying to mend both the practice and [...]

  • A Man Walks Into the Cnn

    CNN Puts Former Sessions Aide in Newsroom Role

    Sarah Isgur Flores, a press aide to former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has been hired to help coordinate political coverage for CNN, a move that generated some pushback on social media Tuesday. Politico previously reported the CNN hire. Flores in the past has criticized CNN coverage. She will be just the latest political operative [...]

  • Gerald Blum, Inspiration for 'WKRP In

    Gerald Blum, Inspiration for 'Big Guy' Carlson on 'WKRP in Cincinnati,' Dies at 86

    Gerald “Jerry” Blum, the inspiration for the character of radio station general manager Art “Big Guy” Carlson on the long-running TV sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati,” died Saturday at 86. The Atlanta radio veteran was affectionately transformed into the fictional Carlson by veteran comic actor Gordon Jump on “WKRP,” which ran for four seasons on CBS [...]

  • Arrested Development Season 5 review

    TV News Roundup: 'Arrested Development' Sets Season 5 Return Date at Netflix

    In today’s TV news roundup, the second half of “Arrested Development” season five gets a release date and Netflix announces the voice cast for “Green Eggs and Ham.” CASTING Netflix has announced the ensemble voice cast for the upcoming “Green Eggs and Ham” series executive produced by Ellen DeGeneres and based on the Dr. Seuss book. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content