Tell us about your relationship with cannabis.
It started pretty early. I was always attracted to the plant and never understood the negative stereotypes associated with it. I was raised to be very matter-of-fact, and as I learned more about this so-called drug, I questioned the whole thing. What do you mean it’s as bad as heroin or cocaine? That can’t be true. Look at the facts. Look at science.
So, it was natural for me to start experimenting early with infusion since cooking is my passion. Cannabis has become my favorite ingredient to use. At home, I am an old-fashioned joint smoker. All day, every day. I don’t usually do concentrates or dabbing for the most part, but every now and then, I enjoy a little hash with my joints or out of a vaporizer, like the VapeXhale or PAX.
Did you go to culinary school? Tell us how you earned your stripes.
I graduated from the San Francisco Cooking School and went onto an externship at a San Francisco butcher commissary kitchen called 4505 Meats. It was an intensive time of learning the ins-and-outs of breaking and preparing whole animals at a sustainable level, which included humane and efficient processing where we worked solely and directly with small local farms. After that, I interned at the Cheese School of San Francisco where I had comprehensive training on cheese, wine, and beer pairings. In 2013, Ryan (my husband and co-founder of the Cannaisseur Series) and I, as well as 2 other partners, founded an edibles company in San Francisco called Madame Munchie. By 2014, we had won High Times’ best edible in their Cannabis Cup. The company grew quickly and gained space in many dispensaries throughout California. During this time, I was also working in the underground pop-up scene, with restaurants like Subculture Dining headed by Chef Russell Jackson. I saw there were no cannabis concepts as such and was really attracted to the idea. In 2015 the Cannaisseur Series was born. The rest is on Instagram!
Tell us about your culinary style and how cannabis influences it.
I am totally focused on sustainability, from the proteins I use to the cannabis I smoke. Living in California, I have access to an abundance of fruits, veggies, and cannabis throughout each growing season. Therefore, my cooking is very seasonal.
Bold colors and seasonal flavor combinations are what guests will most likely see on a plate I create. I prefer to use proteins like wild boar, rabbit, fowl, and buffalo. Ingredients like beets, black chanterelles, fava beans, and Meyer lemons are often seen on the menu.
Most of all, I love to use the whole cannabis plant in a variety of ways. The leaves will change flavor and texture from young to old, and from plant to plant. They are wonderful chopped or juiced. They also can be used to wrap ground spiced meat or rice filling. The possibilities are endless. The buds and stems can also be used in a variety of ways using different techniques and strategies that do not produce a high, but do offer a great flavor. My culinary style keeps changing as I continue to learn and grow.
What led to the creation of the Cannaisseur Series?
At the beginning of 2015, my husband and I were running an infused edibles company and had attended many cannabis events that were pretty much all variations on the same thing. We decided to create an event that we would want to attend ourselves, one that combined two of our biggest passions—food and cannabis. I needed a creative outlet for my cooking, so we decided to create monthly pop-up meals. We wanted to pair each course with different cannabis strains directly from the growers. We had a huge community of cannabis entrepreneur friends who produced some of the best cannabis products on earth, and we were thrilled to share their creations directly with consumers, all while enjoying a delicious culinary experience. Companies like Flow Kana and Bloom Farms were early collaborators and sponsors of our events, and it’s been great to watch everyone flourish over the last few years.
Today, we do about two events per month, each offering a new theme and menu. My husband hosts the events as I organize them and run the kitchen service. We have been super fortunate to be able to give back to the community around us. We jumped in with Bloom Farms’ mission to feed 1 million individuals by creating a 1-for-1 program in which we donate a meal to an individual in need for each attending guest through the Marin Food Bank. As of today, we have donated more than 1,500 meals. A few other ways we try to give back is through the Bay Area Elementary School Auctions, and the NorCal Fire fundraisers. The cannabis community shows the ability and passion to be a multibillion-dollar industry that is inclusive and works toward a better world. I hope that Cannaisseur Series is part of that becoming a reality.
What do you want Cannaisseur Series to be known for?
For the events themselves, I’d like them to be known as a unique experience that you can’t find anywhere else. I want it to be something very approachable for consumers of all tolerance levels and a place they’d like to return to again and again. As a part of the broader movement, I’d like it to be known for being at the forefront of ushering social consumption into acceptance and showing what responsible social consumption can look like when done right.
Also published on Medium.