Over the past eight years, as the movement to integrate cannabis into fine dining has gathered momentum, I’ve sampled early offerings from transgressive cooks and high-end chefs alike—tasting experimental cuisine from cutting-edge culinary seekers eager to make a name for themselves by seizing upon a previously forbidden and underutilized herb.
Nowadays, weed food attracts attention from Michelin-star chefs, TV producers, food critics and restaurant trade associations, but when I first got into it in 2012—as author of The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook—only a handful of adventurous foodies dared add the “secret ingredient” to their menus and pantries.
From the earliest days of this underground movement, I began attending the smattering of secret weed dinners springing up in private homes, closed restaurants, urban lofts and erstwhile art galleries. There was a contagious spirit of optimistic invention in that trailblazing era, with chefs like Chris Sayegh (“The Herbal Chef”), Andrea Drummer, and Payton Curry grabbing headlines for going “beyond brownies,” while experienced restauranteurs such as Miguel Trinidad raised the bar even further by launching stoned supper clubs.
And then a Viceland show called Bong Appétit came along and changed everything almost overnight, transforming weed dinners into a trend as ubiquitous as Bitcoin.
Along the way, the liberalization of cannabis laws in California gave rise to a lot of confusion over the legality of these types of events. Currently, there’s no provisions in the state regulations that permit dinners that serve cannabis-infused foods, so supper clubs have remained in a grey area. Adults can share cannabis products amongst themselves, and chefs can charge for the food and service they provide, but no one is technically allowed to sell weed-infused food that hasn’t been produced in a licensed manufacturing facility and passed rigorous lab tests for THC dosage.
With that in mind, all of the dining experiences described in this article are considered to be within the bounds of private events, and chefs who do infuse foods tend to go light on the THC dosage. You can expect to sign a waiver protecting the hosts from lawsuits just in case you get too high.
Typically, these events aren’t advertised, so would-be attendees must be referred by a friend who’s already a member of the supper club. Sometimes an application process is required, since chefs like to cultivate the guest list as carefully as they choose their produce.
Of course, anyone can cook with cannabis at home, so if you feel inspired, pick up a good cookbook and throw your own stoned dinner party. Or hire any one of these chefs to cater a private party. Either way, see below for details on California’s best cannabis culinary experiences, as well as hints on how to get invited to these secretive suppers.
San Francisco Cannabis Dining Options
Paired with Wine? Yes
Smoking on Site? Yes
Average THC per dinner: 5 – 10 mg
With a forthcoming cookbook entitled Edibles: Small Bites for the Modern Cannabis Kitchen, Chef Coreen Carroll has dedicated herself to high hospitality since 2015, when she launched the Cannaisseur Series in partnership with her husband Ryan Bush. Held at a spacious loft in San Francisco, Coreen’s events include brunches, cocktail mixers, and dinners, usually with lightly-infused dishes accompanied by flower pairings. A master at designing a progression of highs, Carroll integrates plenty of CBD and non-psychoactive options to balance the small amounts of THC served in the beginning of the meal. Recent notable dishes include a Beet Poached Quail Egg Fricasse, and an Almond Olive Oil Cake topped with a pink sugar-encrusted Candied Cannabis Leaf. Sign up for the mailing list and receive invites for events held twice a month but move quickly since dinners usually fill up within a week.
Paired with Wine? Yes, that’s the whole idea
Smoking on Site? Yes, on outdoor patio
Average THC per dinner: 5 mg
Stepping into a lovely Victorian home in San Francisco’s Mission District, you’ll be greeted by wine expert Jamie Evans, aka The Herb Somm, a warm hostess dedicated to creating elegant experiences that blend cannabis, fine food, and perfect wine pairings. Inside, you’ll find offerings from a few select craft cannabis brands, accompanied by a three-course, low-dose meal prepared by a rotating cast of chefs, and tailored to a unique theme.
But it’s really the intersection of weed and wine that makes this event so special. When served in moderation, Evans believes this “allows for a unique sensory experience by pairing aromas and flavors between wine, cannabis, and food. It also opens the door for terpene education as well as discussions about terroir, growing regions, and farming practices.” Recently, Evans was pouring a Mathilde Chapoutier Rosé Grand Ferrage 2017 and Anselmi San Vincenzo 2016. Thursday Infused takes place every other month on, you guessed it—Thursday!
Paired with Wine? No
Smoking on Site? No smoking, but vaping hash and rosin is part of the experience
Average THC per dinner: 5 – 10 mg, higher doses available upon request
Creating inventive, gourmet dishes either infused with hash or paired with concentrates, Executive Chef Michael Magallanes is a veteran of the San Francisco fine dining scene, boasting experience at Michelin-starred eateries Aziza and Mourad. Working with Barron Lutz, a friend from his restaurant days who went on to found the Nasha concentrate company, Magallanes developed techniques to precisely activate and dose high-quality ice hash, choosing to highlight the earthy flavors of this product and integrate it with complimentary ingredients. Dinners typically feature eight to ten courses of haute cuisine such as Braised Spice-cured Beef Short Ribs with Jujubes Sauce and Spring Vegetables, Parsley Root with Huckleberry, Oats and Brown Butter, or Sea Urchin on Toast with Rhubarb and Shiso.
Los Angeles Cannabis Dining Options
Paired with Wine? Yes
Smoking on Site? Yes, depending on venue
Average THC per dinner: 5 – 10mg
Recently transplanted to the sunny climes of LA from its former home in Portland, this sporadic supper club helmed by Crystal Bauer Feldman showcases a rotating cast of accomplished chefs including Chopped contestant Dean Barker, Top Chef finalist Joe Sasto and Hollywood restauranteur Betty Fraser, with Viceland’s Ry Prichard occasionally serving as host. Events in Bel Air have featured activations such as dab bars and CBD massages, plus decadent fare like Manny Mendoza’s Wagyu Rib Cap Carne Asada Tacos, Sasto’s Yellowfin Crudo with Watermelon Caviar, and Barker’s Cannabis Causa, a dish composed of charred Spanish baby octopus, aji amarillo potatoes, cubed avocado, radish, cilantro and chili threads with a CBD guajillo chili oil. Sign up for the mailing list, and expect to be vetted by Crystal, who says that “curating a crowd is the ‘secret sauce’ for these events,” so don’t forget to be fabulous.
Paired with Wine? You’re allowed to BYOB (either booze or bud)
Smoking on Site? Yes, in an outdoor area
Average THC per dinner: 35 – 50 mg
Spending the evening at Chris Yang’s chef’s table is a glimpse of the future of cannabis cuisine, with a bar for terpene-infused mocktails and dinners featuring seven to ten courses of innovative, flavorful, internationally-inspired dishes like a Roasted Pork Belly Spring Roll filled with Scallion Mashed Potatoes or Thai Basil Pear Tart. Occasionally there’s a special event highlighting certain health-positive practices, such as the Vegan Ayurvedic Chef’s Table Experience held last March. Sign up through the mailing list on the Pop Cultivate website to be invited to monthly events in the LA area, and Chef Yang always appreciates hearing a bit about his potential guests, so feel free to introduce yourself via email.
Paired with Wine? No
Smoking on Site? Yes
Average THC per serving: Food is not infused, just paired with flower
At this freewheeling supper club, the food is matched with complimentary cannabis strains for a smoke-friendly experience minus the infused food. This approach is great for those who don’t like the effects of eating THC but are looking for the social aspect of connecting with fellow connoisseurs while sampling gourmet fare from different chefs. Hosted by Marc Leibel, the evening includes musical entertainment, branded experiences and sumptuous dishes such as Togarashi Spiced Ahi Tuna, Hamachi Carpaccio, and Lemon Curd w/ Honey Lavender Shortbread. Past events in Santa Monica and Laguna Beach have featured Wonderbrett cannabis, highlighting strains including Lemon Tree OG, Sour Diesel and Forbidden Fruit.
Lead image by Ashley Dellinger
Flood image courtesy of Opulent ChefNeed a Little Something Before Dinner?