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Weed Chefs: Coming to a Screen Near You – Rolling Stone

There’s something deeply satisfying about getting high and drooling over images of a gorgeous, marijuana-infused dinner — and a new crop of shows offer a look into how these intoxicating feasts are made.

Take Viceland’s Bong Appétit, by far the biggest hit of the genre. Last year, it was nominated for a James Beard award, a top honor in the cooking world. The first two seasons featured dreamy sequences about sourcing local ingredients, bite-sized lessons in how to infuse various fats and oils with marijuana and, at the end of each episode, a giggle-ridden dinner party populated by the kind of chill stoners who would never judge you for being too high. (I found this out when I appeared on an episode that aired last summer.)

“If you’re stoned, it’s highly entertaining,” says cannabis chocolatier and co-host Vanessa Lavorato. The summer before Bong Appétit started filming, Lavorato says she slowly built up her tolerance to edibles, so she could better handle herself while stoned on air. In the end, all her hard work didn’t matter much. “You can’t hide it. You’re just really high on camera, which hopefully is funny for people.”

The show returns for a third season early next year with a new competitive format and several additions to the on-screen cast, including Cypress Hill frontman B. Real and marijuana chef Miguel Trinidad, whose underground, Filipino-inspired weed dinners have been covered by the New Yorker.

Not to be outdone, Netflix pushed out its own marijuana cooking show this summer: Cooking on High, which pits two chefs against each other to create THC-enhanced dishes for a panel of judges, punctuated by cannabis education from loveable pothead comedian Ngaio Bealum. Though critical reception of the fell flat, some of the chefs and personalities featured within seem destined for another, better executed vehicle for stardom. One standout was Andrea Drummer, whose delectable cod cake sandwich made her the winner of the show’s first episode. Drummer trained at Le Cordon Bleu, and oddly enough used to work as a drug prevention counselor before getting into weed cooking about five years ago.

Still, the public’s appetite for shows about weed chefs — just like the public’s appetite for weed — may be outpacing the conservative sensibilities of the people making decisions. Food Network, among other major players, has yet to touch the subject of cooking with the federally illegal drug, so the Rachael Ray of pot cuisine is more likely to come out of an unconventional platform like California startup Prohbtd, which currently produces a cannabis-infused cooking web series called Pot Pie, hosted by the charming Brandin LaShea. “Having a digital platform is the new wave,” says LaShea, who will feature infused dishes on her next season. “I have freedom that I don’t think I’d have at a large network.”

For cannabis chefs on the verge, the closed doors at most cable networks can be frustrating.

“Most of the TV people come back and say, ‘We love you, we love the concept, we’re not ready,’” says Leather Storrs, owner of the Portland, Oregon restaurant Noble Rot, who wants to host a travel-oriented cannabis food show, akin to Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations — but with pot. “I feel like they’re looking at the middle of the country, and when you live on the coasts, it’s different.” Storrs appeared on an early episode of Bong Appétit and is slated to return for the third season, but he’s also starred in several web series and pilots that have gone nowhere. His playful, vegetable-driven marijuana meals often start out with a Thai tom kha gai soup meant to look like Lucky Charms, with heart-shaped radishes and blue diamonds made of cabbage floating in a coconut milk broth.

And if President Trump has taught us anything, it’s that not everything that looks appealing on reality TV works well in real life. Full-scale cannabis restaurants do not yet exist, even in states that have legalized. The techniques involved in making pot-infused crème fraîche are rather complicated for a home chef, especially one who likes to get baked before baking. And of course, achieving the correct dosage for each person at a marijuana dinner party is nearly impossible — one diner might literally require ten to twenty times as much THC as another. Perhaps that’s why it’s more entertaining to watch the making of a full weed meal than to consume one. “If I wasn’t on the show, it’s not how I would choose to be high,” says Lavorato. “I would just smoke.”

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6 cannabis cookbooks with recipes from basic to gourmet – Los Angeles Times

As cannabis is legalized — although it remains illegal under federal law —and goes mainstream in California and other states, the cookbook industry has churned into high gear with books on what ways to use jazz cabbage beyond the bong. What to look for? A lot depends on your level of expertise — not just in the kitchen but with cannabis itself. If you’ve been making batches of pot brownies and want to expand your repertoire to, say, French macarons, there are cookbooks to help you out. Many books have lengthy introductions that outline the specifics of cooking with cannabis, so find one that fits with what you know — or don’t know.

“Bong Appetit: Mastering the Art of Cooking With Weed” by the editors of Munchies (Ten Speed Press, $30)

This book, based on the Munchies and Viceland television series “Bong Appétit,” was published in October by Ten Speed Press. (This is in itself notable, as Ten Speed is one of the best cookbook publishers around, and continues the legitimate trajectory of the cannabis cooking genre.) The book has a comprehensive introduction that includes topics such as dosing, techniques, methods of decarboxylation and infusion, cannabis pairing tips, questions to ask your dispensary, tips on equipment and more. The recipes are sourced from the Munchies test kitchen and from many well-known chefs, whose recipes are recalibrated to add cannabis. Thus: Korean fried chicken from Deuki Hong of San Francisco’s Sunday Bird; fried soft-shell crab with shishito pepper mole from Daniela Soto-Innes of Cosme and Atla; and (my favorite) Joan Nathan’s preserved lemons. The Munchies test kitchen also has some fun ones, including herb focaccia with, well, herb; and confit octopus, in which a whole octopus is poached in cannabis-infused olive oil. If that sounds too aspirational, there are instructions for making an apple bong — a hollowed-out apple filled with weed-infused mezcal — at the end of the drinks chapter.

“Edibles: Small Bites for the Modern Cannabis Kitchen” by Stephanie Hua with Coreen Carroll (Chronicle Books, $19.95)

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“Edibles” is a just-published, user-friendly cookbook in a few notable ways: There is a lengthy and well-defined introductory section that discusses dosage, potency, effects, terminology and techniques. The 30 recipes that follow are purposefully low-dose (5 milligrams per serving), which is very helpful for beginning cooks, as well as those with a potentially problematic sweet tooth (Stephanie Hua is a confectioner at a marshmallow company; she and Coreen Carroll met at culinary school in San Francisco). The recipes are also a lot more appealing than those in many cannabis cookbooks, which can tend to run a little toward dorm food. Hua and Carroll instead give well-written recipes for cardamom caramels, gruyère and green garlic gougères, strawberry jam Pavlovas and roasted grape crostini. The blueberry lemon French macarons are a serious improvement on pot brownies.

"The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook" by Elise McDonough and the editors of High Times Magazine

“The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook” by Elise McDonough and the editors of High Times Magazine

(Chronicle Books)

“The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook” by Elise McDonough and the editors of High Times Magazine (Chronicle Books, $18.95)

This 6-year-old cookbook is from High Times magazine, the pot-championing publication founded in 1974. The book collects recipes from various sources (cooks who’ve contributed to the magazine, a “dude from Texas”) and begins with a workmanlike introduction that covers some of the basics of working with and consuming cannabis. But those basics are minimal; strains of cannabis, relative potency and issues of temperature and decarboxylation aren’t covered. Dosing in the recipes is also vague: a recipe, for example, says it “stones 4,” and there’s no mention of how many mgs are in the servings. The recipes are fun, and hardly technically difficult: the chocolate layer cake calls for Betty Crocker cake mix and frosting. If the Munchies book is for hipster stoners, this one is for people who’ve been listening to their Cheech and Chong records on vinyl since the last time it was cool.

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“Cannabis Cuisine: Bud Pairings of a Born Again Chef” by Andrea Drummer (Mango Publishing, $24.95)

Andrea Drummer is a Los Angeles-based culinary school grad and private chef specializing in cannabis cooking. Maybe because of her culinary training, the book is short on the science of cooking with cannabis and long on recipes, including some fun ones such as kimchi fried rice and escargot in puff pastry. This is both good and bad, as the recipes for infused stock, pasta dough and mayonnaise are comforting for home cooks, but the book doesn’t give much information about how to work with or use cannabis. (There’s also no index, which is frustrating.) Although Drummer gives bud pairings, as if she’s talking about a good Cabernet, decarboxylation isn’t even mentioned; recipes simply call for grams of “cannabis product.” This assumes a lot, and unless you’re already versed in this kind of cooking, you’ll need outside reference in order to use this one properly.

“Herb: Mastering the Art of Cooking With Cannabis” by Melissa Parks and Laurie Wolf (Inkshares, $24.99)

This 3-year-old cookbook from two classically trained chefs — the pair have degrees from the Culinary Institute of America, Le Cordon Bleu and Johnson and Wales between them — is one of the better books about cannabis cooking. It’s both pragmatic and culinary-minded, and avoids the stoner language that can obfuscate the prose of the genre. The concise “cannabis 101” intro section concludes with good recipes for canna-oil, canna-butter and compound butters made with it — a great and nicely cheffy touch. The recipes focus on well-sourced ingredients and give techniques for components in such a way that you could easily use the book for non-pot cooking. I’d switch out the cannabutter for regular butter and make the triple-chocolate espresso cookies on a regular rotation, and the matcha sugar cookies too.

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"The Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook: Feel-Good Food for Home Cooks" by Robyn Griggs Lawrence.

“The Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook: Feel-Good Food for Home Cooks” by Robyn Griggs Lawrence.

(Skyhorse Publishing)

“The Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook: Feel-Good Food for Home Cooks” by Robyn Griggs Lawrence (Skyhorse Publishing, $24.99)

Published in 2015 by a Colorado writer and photographer, this cookbook collects recipes from a dozen chefs and one bartender who specialize in cannabis-infused food. Before the recipes, there’s a 100-plus-page section that provides biographies of the chefs and discusses many aspects of buying, identifying and cooking with cannabis, covering cooking cultivars, details on infusions and extractions, plus dosing tips. There’s a longer section on how to make the oils and butters and tinctures than in many books; it also includes recipes for infused milk, cream, honey and simple syrup, all of which makes the recipes that follow succinct. The dosage per serving is clearly stated, and the recipe headnotes often include nicely geeky bits, such as how mangoes are reputed to heighten the effects of cannabis because they’re high (ha-ha) in myrcene molecules. Thus a recipe for rice pudding with green cardamom, mango and pistachios.

amy.scattergood@latimes.com

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Tips and Tricks for Cooking With Marijuana – Houston Press

While food world insiders are all abuzz about cooking with pandan, timut pepper, berbere and the memory enhancing nootropics, the editors of MUNCHIES have been fine-tuning the 1,000-year-old practice of weed consumption.

According to Rupa Bhattacharya, MUNCHIES Editor-in-Chief and one of the collaborative editors for the new book Bong Appétit: Mastering the Art of Cooking with Weed, cannabis can actually be used to make food taste better, which is contra to everything we thought we knew. For years potheads have been trying to disguise its taste by mixing it into brownies and other baked goods.

Here in Texas we’ve got to road-trip up to Colorado (or fly to Los Angeles) to sample the new breed of edibles — gummies, truffles, olive oils and beverages — but best to leave anything uneaten at the border.

Bhattacharya and her team feel your pain, and know that most states don’t have access to THC infused products, so they devoted a whole section on how to infuse oil, butter, milk, syrup and alcohol with cannabis. These gourmet infusions form the framework for most of the recipes, though they do include some that call for hash or the marijuana flower.

“If you live in a legal state you can purchase cannabis olive oil, you can add it to dishes,” says Bhattacharya. “We wanted the vast majority, for states where it’s not legal, to have access to these infusions.”

Left: Yogurt-marinated lamb, 5.2 mg of THC per serving. Reprinted with permission from Bong Appétit: Mastering the Art of Cooking with Weed, copyright © 2018. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Left: Yogurt-marinated lamb, 5.2 mg of THC per serving. Reprinted with permission from Bong Appétit: Mastering the Art of Cooking with Weed, copyright © 2018. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Photos by Marcus Nilsson © 2018

Most of the recipes look like they could be served at any high-end restaurant: double-lemon roast chicken, rib-eye with weed chimichurri and creamy cilantro kale salad with coconut bacon. But they also understand the mindset of anybody who’s been hungry and high, with that insatiable craving for something sweet, then salty, then crunchy, then chewy.

Book collaborator and cannabis expert Thu Tran, from the Viceland television series Bong Appétit, lent the recipe for Stoner Candy Bites. The ingredient list goes something like this: potato chips, pretzels, corn flakes, marshmallows, chocolate chips, candy sprinkles and — for that magical lift — flower-infused butter. It yields 1.1 mg of THC per piece, or 66.8 mg for the entire recipe.

That’s the other thing: The editors know that there are wild variations in quality and potency so exercise caution when trying a new recipe. That means don’t eat the whole tray of candy bites in one sitting and never ever ever let children or pets gain access to edibles.

Bong Appétit does delve into flavor pairings and the science of infusion, and it’s got beautiful photography by Marcus Nilsson, but it’s more than just a cookbook.

“We have decades of culinary experience, experience with the various strains. In terms of strength, there’s a section that addresses that. It’s so variable, depending on climate conditions, how it’s processed, it’s a little bit tricky. There’s a little bit of extrapolation,” says Bhattacharya.

The editors also are aware that they’ve devoted a whole book to the subject of marijuana, yet there are people who remain incarcerated for the very same substance.

“We’re hoping that this book opens the door to widespread acceptance, as well as a recreational thing,” says Bhattacharya. “It seems wrong to not address that. There are people sitting in jail right now; we have significant privilege here. It’s a nice book, pretty, lifestyle-y. It would be shortsighted to not address it.

Instead of writing a book where the goal is getting as high as possible and then waking up wondering where you’ve been, she says Bong Appétit treats cannabis “as something to be enjoyed, and delicious and enjoyed together,” adds Bhattacharya.

Bong Appétit: Mastering the Art of Cooking with Weed, by the editors of MUNCHIES, is published by Ten Speed Press. It can be ordered from Brazos Bookstore, on amazon.com, as well as other booksellers.