Few things make a better pairing than cannabis and food. From savory main dishes to sweet deserts, Canna Chef Chase aspires to educate home cooks on how to create gourmet meals on a budget, and quite literally, elevate the dining experience to new highs. Chase is founder of Canna Chef Foods, maker and distributor of a line of cannabis infused spices and cooking oils. His website (cannacheffoods.com) teaches the foundation of cannabis cooking with easy-to-follow recipes that are anything but traditional.
What was your path to the kitchen?
My dad was a chef. He started out cooking at the Lark Creek Inn, in Larkspur, California, during the hippie heyday and cooked for people like the Grateful Dead before they were famous. When I was about five or six, he started having me cooking things with him. I remember one time he brought home a tuna and we didn’t have anything to bread it with, so we used Captain Crunch cereal and made fish sticks. That’s turned out to be one of my signature dishes. My dad was from a farming background, so we’ve always had land, raised our own pigs, chickens, vegetables, and foods — everything for me growing up was always farm fresh to table.
How did you hit on cannabis as an ingredient?
Dad grew cannabis, and I always helped out in the garden. One year the police came and kicked in our door and arrested my dad for having one plant — that plant was like 15 feet tall, and they had used a chainsaw to cut it down. It always baffled me that this “herb” was putting people in jail. I had a rebellious streak and went into cultivating cannabis myself. We couldn’t really smoke it because people would smell it, so I started, acquiring cooking knowledge through books I found on Haight Street, and picked every hippie’s brain for culinary knowledge. I eventually went to culinary school to learn everything I could about formal cooking.
What are your favorite dishes to make with cannabis?
There’s nothing that I haven’t infused to be honest. Being from the Bay Area, I know a lot of musicians, hip hop artists and celebrity talents. For a record release party, I made personal pizzas that ranged from five to 50 milligrams. I’ve infused spaghetti, mac n’ cheese, garlic bread, cookies, whipped cream, strawberry short cake and even banana nut bread. One of my favorites deserts is a dulce de leche (a creamy caramel) cake with pecans and honey. I also do an amazing infused pumpkin mousse over a pecan pumpkin pie, which is phenomenal.
How do your products solve the challenge of dosing?
Dosing is a huge problem for the average person who doesn’t smoke or consume cannabis regularly. I have been at several cannabis dining parties where people got sick and had to leave early because they had a few bites of something of which they didn’t know the potency. For the home chef the key is to really know what they’re truly working with, and the best way is to be consistent. Canna Chef Foods onion and garlic powders are from organically grown California plants, and we add decarboxylated hemp flower and CBD isolate so it can be sold anywhere in the country. Each shake is roughly two or four milligrams. The THC products, which have flavor profiles like Italian and Mexican, are individually packaged per state requirements and not over five milligrams per dose.
And this is better than cooking with a distillate?
I’ve heard many people say that they have stomach troubles with distillate. I myself have eaten different food products, not knowing which would have distillate and then found myself running to the bathroom with an upset stomach. I prefer full-spectrum, whole flower products like flower, rosin, hash or keif. Canna Chef Foods will be coming out with a baking line of sugars, cocoa powders, caramels, and toffee chips infused with THC and CBD.
What if I don’t like the taste of cannabis?
When you take out all the stems and wood plant matter, you pretty much get rid of the stinky bitterness. What you’re left with is a toasted, canna flowery, nuttiness. It’s a very pleasant taste when prepared.
What’s the main benefit of home-cooked meal where cannabis is part of the menu?
You can make the same foods you’d get at a catered event for a fraction of the price and also guarantee the dosage in the finished product. Let’s say it’s pizza — you can sprinkle on an infused seasoning and know exactly how many milligrams you’re ingesting. Great food doesn’t need to cost a lot — for five dollars you can get a ready-to-eat Costco chicken, pull off the meat and make tacos, pot pie or enchiladas. You can even use the carcass for a delicious chicken soup.
What has been the reception from smoke shops towards Canna Chef Foods?
The nice thing for retailers is that our spices are competitively priced with other CBD products, so wanna-be chefs who might not ever step foot in your store, will become new customers. Everyone eats, and that makes every customer a potential buyer of infused spices.
What’s your ultimate goal?
To give everybody the ability to become their own chef, save some money and spend more time together. More often than not, when I go to a restaurant, I don’t feel like it’s a good value. I want to give everybody the knowledge on how to cook with my spices and to empower the world to grow their own cannabis and make their own culinary creations. With the individually packaged (CBD and THC) spices, whether you are at home or go out to any restaurant, you can add it to your own meal. Now you have something truly affordable and easy to enjoy.