The first dish is ready to be served: jalapeno corn muffins with a dollop of maple butter. Next up, seabream ceviche, followed by a mushroom “cappuccino.” The dinner has all the makings of a fine-dining experience — but the star ingredient is not a common menu item.
“I don’t try to hide the flavour of weed. I try to highlight it,” said Ronnie Fishman, resident chef at online marijuana resource Hempster.
She helped serve up a seven-course, cannabis-infused meal to a group of Canadian veterans in Toronto on Saturday. The gathering of 10 men and women was a way to honour the veteran community and spark a discussion about edibles.
The trend is catching on already among Canadians, with almost 50 per cent saying they would want to try edibles when they become legal, according to a study by Sylvain Charlebois, professor of food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University.
Chefs are getting in on the buzz, too, even though edibles aren’t expected to be legal until 2019.
The meal — prepared with the personal prescription from each veteran — is an example of how cannabis can become part of gourmet cuisine. The dinner was hosted by the founders of Hempster, who approached Toronto catering service The Food Dudes to create the menu and cook for the event.
“It’s something we’re really proud of and we’re very passionate about, in terms of supporting our veterans and being part of the marijuana scene in general,” said The Food Dudes operational manager Matt Wowk. “It evolved from a normal catering menu to being able to play around with infusing.”
Fishman was in charge of overseeing the dishes and making sure veterans received the correct doses. An average dose per serving for edibles is around 10 milligrams of THC — or tetrahydrocannabinol, a chemical compound known as a cannabinoid with psychoactive effects that makes users feel high. For the dinner, each dish was infused individually. The entire amount per person was in the 10 to 25 milligram range based on desired results and medication.
“We considered the CBD content (another cannabinod) of each patient’s medicine to provide a balanced medication level,” said Fishman.
CBD can counteract the effects of THC in food and doesn’t give users a high feeling. Instead, said Fishman, it “mellows you out.”
For cooking purposes, cannabis has to be combined with a fat, like oil or butter, said Fishman, which is what she did for the meal. But unlike a regular dinner service, she wasn’t able to try the food right before it hit the table.
The fourth course is branzino — smoked with cannabis “for the aroma,” said Fishman — served on a green pea puree with a winter succotash.
“They did things like ceviche, things like pestos. All of that needs citrus flavours, which the weed actually brings to it,” said Fishman.