Updated: Jan 21
Looking to learn about cannabis and cooking?
These chefs are the best in the business.
Cannabis cooking has come a long way since baking brownies before a college party was the number one way to ingest THC-laced foods. Just take a look at the proliferation of cannabis and CBD cooking shows on streaming services, and you'll quickly get an idea of how popular infused cuisine has become. Personal favorites include Bong Appetite on YouTube, Cooking On High from Netflix, and High Cuisine, currently available on Prime Video. Apparently puns are highly popular with cooking shows.
But for the leading cannabis chefs in the industry, the marriage of infused food and education is more about passion and less about chasing trends. They all share a desire to use amazing food to help teach people about how to consume cannabis in a more elevated way, with a focus on the entire taste and emotional experience, rather than just on the best way to get high. This is especially true of the cooks who specialize in working with CBD, which offers the potential for tremendous health benefits, instead of just focusing on the intoxicating effects.
So with that in mind, here are The Hood Collective's top recommendations for the best cannabis chefs in 2022.
Also known by her professional name Livvie Smalls, Liv Vasquez is a popular chef and cannabis educator based in Portland, Oregon. Her goal is to bring people greater awareness and understanding of what cannabis can do for a person, from a holistic perspective. She specializes in hosting amazing popup events around the country that double as an opportunity to answer questions that people may have about cannabis and how it can impact their health and outlook.
In addition to authoring the book Smart Infusion, which conveys her recommendations on how to have the best possible edibles experience, she's also competed on (and won!) the Netflix cooking series Cooked With Cannabis. Despite all the acclaim that goes with having a global audience, Vasquez grounds all her work with a solid foundation in science, strain genetics, cultivation techniques, and medicine.
According to Vasquez, "I think, especially for older women who have lived through prohibition of cannabis, and who have been more or less afraid of it for so long, for them to even come into a dispensary can be a whole emotional process. So I wanted to create these beautiful spaces for them to feel more comfortable to come in to ask questions. But at heart, I'm a Golden Girl, so I want a beautiful place where I can talk mindfully about cannabis that isn't a bunch of guys with Bob Marley posters."
Learn more about Vasquez here. You can also watch her in our web series Highly Inspired:
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York, Payton Curry has worked as a chef in top restaurants all along the West Coast, as well as teaching at Scottsdale Arizona's Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. He made it his goal to introduce fresh and locally sourced ingredients to edible cuisine. His ultimate ambition is to inspire people to experience a more spiritual approach to plant-based wellness, and his food is meant to nourish as much as it is to get you high.
With this in mind, he founded Flourish, an Arizona (and California) edibles company that offers products that are a cut above the traditional edible. By combining a focus on both art and science, the company uses a full spectrum infusion process that is able to create oils that are ten times as potent as the average edible. It also allows them to maintain amazing consistency and high quality across all of their products.
Curry claims that his motto is "thy food is thy medicine." His most recent endeavor is traveling the country in a renovated Blue Bird bus, from which he evangelizes for the Green Bar Supply Company, which offers CBD-infused food and drinks. He says, "Having the bus has enabled me to talk about cannabis and hemp with people who wouldn’t ever have had the chance to hear about us. I feel like a new age Johnny Appleseed, traveling around the country giving away millions of grams of free CBD in edibles, to people that have never tried them before, in a way that’s fully compliant following the Farm Bill. Even though we’re talking to new people every day, the story is still the same. It’s all about feeling healthy and eating healthy.”
Before relocating to Portland in 2016, Megon Dee-Cave was a Baltimore baker who suffered from the over criminalization of cannabis as part of the War on Drugs. Oregon gave her the opportunity to experiment with cannabis infused foods in a legal manner. She subsequently founded the Oracle Infused Wellness Co., with the goal of offering a subscription service for organic, vegan, and hemp-derived CBD products.
As part of her focus on exploring the full range of healing and therapeutic effects of the plant, she pays less attention to recreational cannabis and instead concentrates on sharing her knowledge of cannabinoids and terpenoids as medicine. She's also motivated by the dearth of people of color in the industry, and strives to serve as an example and motivator of change, along with fighting to help expungement efforts for those who have been incarcerated due to cannabis convictions. As one example of the scope of the problem, black Americans are nearly four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white Americans, even though they consume cannabis at a similar rate.
An active leader in the cannabis industry, Dee-Cave states that, “I get to honestly live in my purpose, helping people to heal, protect their bodies, and find themselves using this sacred plant.”
In terms of top chefs, Miguel Trinidad has an impeccable resume. He learned his craft at New York's Institute of Culinary Education and has worked at a number of popular upscale restaurants known for the culinary flair, such as Lola. His first endeavor at his own restaurant was Maharlika, a Filipino restaurant in New York City that was very well received. He followed up this success with Jeepney, a Filipino gastropub that debuted in 2012.
His cannabis career took off in 2015 when he opened the 99th Floor, a private dinner club that specialized in infused foods. Their private events became the talk of the town, made even more popular by the fact that access is limited to only those in the know. The meals are carefully dosed, with as much attention paid to the CBD and THC levels as to the combination of flavors. In addition to NYC, Trinidad has hosted events in Denver, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, with specialties including infused steak tartare and tomato bisque.
According to Trinidad, "The top 3 rules when cooking with cannabis are the same as just cooking. Get the best quality ingredients. Taste everything. And push the envelope and start a conversation with what you're making."
Monica Lo is another accomplished chef who has begun lending her expertise to infused cannabis concoctions. But unlike the others on this list, her journey to food did not begin in cooking school. Rather, she was an accomplished photographer and creative director. But after suffering a herniated disc, she struggled finding a viable solution for treating her pain that didn't involve opioids. Lo wanted to try medical cannabis as a solution, but her building's ban on cannabis use was a barrier. This lead to experimenting with the sous vide cooking method, in which the food is placed into an airtight container and heated using hot water.
Wanting to share her successful trials, Lo became a food blogger, highlighting infused recipes that don't give off the typical smell of weed. She subsequently founded the company Sous Weed, with the intention of promoting cannabis as a superfood. They provide insight into how cannabis impacts the body and how to safely incorporate it as a healing substance and as part of a wellness routine.
Lo says, “Sous Weed looks like a regular food blog, and I had fun doing it in a way that wasn’t perpetuating the stoner stereotype.”
Learn more about CBD, hemp, and cannabis marketing services from The Hood Collective
Great food is often about the presentation as much as the flavor. The same is true of good marketing. The Hood Collective focuses on branding and story, in order to not only let people know that your cannabis company exists, but to try and create a connection between you and your customers.
When you partner with The Hood Collective, you can be sure that our number one priority will be supporting your bottom line. No matter what the budget, we offer solutions and services that scale up as you grow, so we can take the journey to sustainable success together. No matter whether you specialize in hemp, CBD, cannabis, or all three, we have the digital marketing skills and expertise to put you over the top.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.