First, there was the race for cannabis retailers to open boutique-style storefronts. Now, food influencers and celebrity chefs have laid claim to the industry, creating a fast-rising trend that offers online recipes and tips for cannabis edibles.
Not only have these driven individuals opened businesses, but some are carving out a place teaching those who love to create their own cuisine.
One of these mavericks is Red Seal Chef Daniel Huber, now the manager of St. Albert’s Green Rock Cannabis. He is also a restaurant industry activist, educator and is the founder of Cannabis Dinner YEG, a private dinner club.
Combining his passion for food with cannabis, he is hosting two Cook With Cannabis demonstrations in August on how home cooks can obtain the best results for any cannabis-infused dish be it chocolate, pizza or hamburgers.
“Education is the basics of cooking with THC in edibles. There are so many myths and misconceptions on how to do it safely. I’m more worried and concerned that there is not as much clear information out there,” said Huber.
A common mistake among novice cooks whipping up edibles is lack of information about dosage control for obtaining the best personal experience.
“It’s not a thing you can throw into a pot and it will come out the way you want. If you take too much, it can create a bad experience.”
As he explains it, cannabis metabolizes in different ways when it enters the body. If a person inhales, it travels to the lungs. But if eaten, it goes through the liver and makes a more intense impact on people.
As a chef with 26 years experience, the NAIT alumnus is wary of online chefs who are in a race to push their brand of cannabis-infused meals.
He explains diverse people have different reactions to digesting weed and compares it to metabolizing alcohol. His answer to the online product push is simple.
“Don’t worry about your dosage. First figure out what is a comfortable zone for you. Our mantra is ‘start low and go slow.’ It’s not a race. It’s not the Olympics.”
Originally from Wainwright, Huber first found a job as a dishwasher with the O’Byrne’s Group in 1998. Determined to succeed, he vaulted into the executive chef position within 18 months.
“I only went to school (NAIT) to buck up my pedigree. The best chefs are the ones that earn their title through work.”
He traveled throughout Alberta, opening The Hart House in Camrose, Malt & Mortar in Edmonton and To Taste in Calgary.
Due to the volatility and staff abuses in the industry, Huber became involved in the Alberta Vanguard Association. The AVA actively lobbied Alberta’s former NDP government to deal with unfair labour practices.
By 2018, the 12-hour days demanded a major lifestyle change. Not only had Huber married and settled down, he was also diagnosed with Crohn's disease, an inflammatory condition in the large colon that prohibits the body from absorbing nutrients. Stressed and in pain for months, Huber lost 60 pounds.
His physician prescribed medical drugs and steroids. Nothing helped until he attended a cannabis clinic. For a person who was never comfortable with marijuana, the oils and edibles were “game changers.”
He last stepped into a restaurant kitchen in 2018 and shifted his focus to sales, a less frantic environment. When a managerial position at Green Rock Cannabis opened up, he applied.
“I never realized how much being a chef is like sales. When I made the transition into retail, it was more fun. And I had the same passion as when I did a wine pairing.”
Education is a focal point of Huber’s Cook With Cannabis classes. One of the points he emphasizes is that the active ingredients in cannabis are fat soluble for the most part. However, you can’t eat cannabis by itself. It needs a heat source and a bit of fat to coax the active ingredients out.
A user can purchase dry cannabis and “decarboxylate,” or “decarb,” which is simply heating the cannabis to release the active ingredients. But without the right equipment, a high temperature can burn the active ingredients.
“You don’t need to spend too much money to have control over the effects and have fun.
Cooking with Cannabis is on Sunday, Aug. 16, at 2 p.m. and Wednesday, Aug. 19, at 6 p.m. The Aug. 16 event is exclusive for Gazette/Today readers. Register at stalbertgazettecookswithgreenrocks.eventbrite.ca. The password is StAlbertRocks.
Registration for the Aug. 19 is at cookingwithgreenrock.eventbrite.ca. Both events are 18-plus and free.
Green Rock will also host a drive for St. Albert Food Bank during the third week in August. Residents are encouraged to donate non-perishables.
Below is a recipe for an easy-make cannabis edible.
Caramel Apple S’mores
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
2 Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced and cored
4 squares infused chocolate
Warm caramel for drizzling
For information on right dosage, visit Green Rock Cannabis in store
• Pre-slice apples and soak in lemon water to preserve freshness.
• Toast marshmallows until golden (preferably over an open flame)
• Top one apple slice with a chocolate square and two toasted marshmallows.
• Drizzle with caramel and top with a second apple slice. Make a delicious sweet sandwich
• Repeat to make four apple s'mores!