PDA takes a look at haute stoner cuisine and cannabis’ role in the infinite popularity of mobile food trucks
It has never surprised us that many of the world’s best chefs consume cannabis, these are after all, people that work with some of the most rare quality ingredients on the planet everyday. It takes an icon like Anthony Bourdain to talk straight on what goes down after the kitchen closes. He’s that guy eating “Happy Pizza” in Cambodia on his “No Reservations” TV show.
Chefs are rarely drug tested, chronically overworked and capable of blowing off more steam than a geyser at Yellowstone once the shift ends.
“Everybody smokes dope after work,” Bourdain told the New York Times recently. “People you would never imagine.”
When Bourdain comes to Seattle he visits a certain meat store the way most people visit Bruce Lee’s grave. The father of celebrity chef and activist Mario Batali opened Salumi in Pioneer Square (previously featured in PDA Magazine) after a century of familial meat curing in Seattle. It’s a destination for food folk the way Kurt Cobain’s house on Lake Washington Blvd. is for indie rock romantics.
“That is a holy place for me,” Bourdain told the Seattle Times. “I love that place. I’ve jokingly said, but I’m half serious, it should be a UNESCO site. It should be a landmark.”
“The same engine that seems to attract so many serial killers to the Pacific Northwest has attracted an extraordinarily high number of talented cooks, like these little producers,” Bourdain added about the Seattle food climate. “Rogue bakers. Cheesemakers. It’s one of the most exciting, if not THE most exciting area of the country to eat.”
Batali and Bourdain admit to making cannabis a part of their life, without any reservations. Chefs are becoming like comedians, where their hallowed status allows them to be honest about issues that many Americans feel compelled to avoid. For this reason we at 4E have started paying more attention to the new kitchen culture, and not just when we are deciding where to hold our next staff dinner.
“We were high all the time, sneaking off to the walk-in refrigerator at every opportunity to ‘conceptualize,’” Bourdain announced in his first book, Kitchen Confidential (2000).
Brooklyn’s rising stars of culinary counter-culture also count cannabis as a key ingredient in their process. Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo import their own olive oil, they founded “Prime Meats” in Brooklyn and have a new venture planned for Portland. They readily admit to using cannabis to brainstorm dishes, decor and all things related to their business.
“It’s like getting the best cheese,” Falcinelli told the New York Times. “I have like four or five different types of marijuana in my refrigerator right now.”
Duane Sorenson, the founder of the coffee roaster Stumptown, has no issues with the good food, good coffee, good medicine lifestyle that is defining the Northwest on the national stage in 2013. He points out that cannabis often ends up in the baristas tip jars at his shops.
“It goes hand in hand with a cup of coffee,” Sorenson said. “It’s called wake and bake. Grab a cup of Joe and get on with it.”
Others like Roy Choi in LA’s food truck scene has watched a laid back cannabis culture develop around unpretentious delicacies you can eat while sitting on a curb. He even compared the contemporary culture to “Deadheads” following the psych-rock band and sharing recreational intoxicants while experiencing far-out music.
Music is not that personal anymore, but food sure is. Choi, who recently opened his first restaurant (Chego!) said he uses marijuana to keep his creativity up and to squeeze in quick breaks in the midst of 17-hour workdays.
In San Francisco at the swanky Ritz-Carlton they have created a technique they call “haute stoner cuisine.”
Using quail eggs and caviar in a serving bowl, this high-end establishment packs Japanese cedar into a bong and fills the serving bowl with smoke that is released only when the patron lifts a hood on the bowl. These bongs that they buy in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood are brought to the table with the dish, not just used in the back of the house.
They call this apperatus “the Lincecum,” after Seattle’s Tim Lincecum, the star pitcher for the San Francisco Giants who was arrested for DUI while smoking cannabis on a long ride from the Bay back to his hometown in 2009.
It’s impossible to fathom how an idea like that could come to fruition without the assistance of cannabis.