Chefs find value in unconventional ingredient

Cannabis tourism is still finding its feet with varying degrees of legality from coast to coast. As regulators and hospitality leaders figure out what that looks like, weed chefs are honing their craft among stringent regulations and hard-to-navigate permitting for public gatherings. To be a weed chef in this era is to be passionate about the cannabis plant. To be a lasting weed chef is to understand that cooking with weed goes much deeper than THC.

Cooking in weed requires a hard shell

Chef Andrea Drummer, Partner of the Original Cannabis Cafe and Director of Food & Beverage for Food Elevated, knows all about resilience in cannabis cuisine. As the first of its kind, consumption-friendly Original Cannabis Cafe was an immediate hit despite vicious Reddit threads. Eventually, the COVID-19 outbreak shut the space down, but it has since returned years later with fresh, new vibes.

cannabis chefs on nutrition

This kind of resilience is required in weed entrepreneurship, and it is worth it for Drummer, who loves the plant as much as she loves making art in the kitchen.

“My ongoing love affair with cannabis cuisine is forever evolving,” Drummer commented to GreenState. “It began simply with appreciating the aroma of a Blue Dream-infused ghee and morphed into a desire to understand the science of cannabis terpenes, cannabinoids, and the endocannabinoid system.”

Drummond entered cannabis cuisine as a medical patient seeking chronic pain management, but things got deeper. What resulted was an in-depth study of the relationship nutrition has on the endocannabinoid system. She was curious about how superfoods and cannabis might work together in the body and what foods may help or hinder the effects of weed.

Entering the cannabis culinary sphere made the longtime patient and freshly graduated chef view food in new ways. That curiosity has persisted in her work at the restaurant and in the soon-to-be-released Willie and Annie Nelson’s Cannabis Cookbook. Being in the space has inspired her as much as it has challenged her, and that was echoed by others in the field.

The nutritional value of cannabis and hemp

Chef Michael Magliano also tripped out on nutrition when beginning to cook with cannabis and hemp in cooking. Before THC-rich weed, he cooked with hemp in Kansas City, enamored by the nutrient-dense omegas in hemp seeds. Magliano still doesn’t place the whole bet on the THC. Instead, he highlights the full scope of the plant.

Magliano is known for his signature Crispy Hemp Leaf appetizer created in partnership with Ziese Farms. The farm secured special licensing from the FDA to sell the creation in a restaurant that happened to beat in the heart of the weed space.

cannabis chefs on nutrition

“The introduction of the leaf in this form was a conversation starter as it was novel to see a whole leaf presented. I had hoped to preface conversation around the 40,000 people still incarcerated over the plant as the restaurant anchored a seven-story building dedicated to the cannabis business,” Magliano said.

The Crispy Hemp Leaf is battered lightly with chickpea flour and spices that switch from zaatar to togarashi, depending on the day. Magliano is excited for people to continue riffing in the kitchen with fan leaves, going as far as calling them the new kale. They are ideal pulverized in juice or wilted in warm summer salads.

There is no telling where the future of weed cuisine is going, but it is clear those driving the bus are determined to stay on course. It is more personal for some than it is for others.

“To have since witnessed the impact that cannabis cuisine has had on my health journey and countless numbers of friends and colleagues is a testament to my drive and inspiration,” Drummer said.

When weed is in the mixing bowl, more than just delicious food is on the menu. The potential for healing and nutrition grows with the addition of pot, and the chefs who pay attention to that may see rippling good from their work.

Cara Wietstock is senior content producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.