The inaugural dinner of the Green Toque Supper Club in Denver, CO had all the accoutrements we expect of a luxurious meal—fine wines, beautiful cocktails, exceptional food and pairings by notable chefs, and a skilled sommelier to guide the night’s progression.
The only difference? This dinner focused around marijuana and was led by a professional cannabis sommelier.
“Each guest’s place setting included a pipe and a lighter,” said founder and CEO of Cultivating Spirits and the world’s foremost cannabis sommelier, Philip Wolf, who led the supper club. “We had artistic ashtrays laid out and cleaners who came around to lint roll the ashes. With several of the courses, we served a little dish with about a half a gram of cannabis. Then we also had chefs who actually cooked and made infusions, as well as dishes meant to pair with each strain."
The dinner was also the first cannabis-focused event in conjunction with StarChefs, an acclaimed restaurant-industry organization. “StarChefs certainly brings a level of professionalism and credibility to the dinner and that was a big reason for me to participate,” offered participating chef, Alex Seidel, the executive chef/proprietor of Colorado-based Fruition Restaurant, Mercantile Dining & Provision, Fruition Farms, and Füdmill.
Seidel created a green posole with chickpeas, cobia carnitas, skyr, and terpenes—the compounds found in essential oils in a plant, such as cannabis, that lends flavor and olfactory notes. Using cannabis terpenes gives you the aroma and flavor of that strain without the THC that makes you high.
Seidel's green posole with cobia carnitas, served with Odyssey OG cannabis
“This was the first official pot dinner that I have been a part of,” Seidel continued. “I wanted to learn about the pairing process and what the approach to that is, and I learned about terpenes. These give the plant its distinct flavor, like pine or mint. It was terpenes that I used in my dish to balance with the flavors in my preparation.”
Korean fried chicken with kimchi-ganja salt and fried ganja leaves
The menu also featured a smoky tartare by Top Chef Season 5 winner Hosea Rosenberg of Blackbelly Market in Boulder, CO. “Pairing is the fun part,” said Rosenberg, who has worked on a number of private cannabis dinners. “I speak to the growers and/or the dispensary representatives—or in this case a pot sommelier—to gather information about the particular strains I will be pairing my food with,” he explained. “We talk about flavor, aroma, and overall effect of each strain and then leverage those elements into dishes that highlight each part. We also make sure to control the amount of cannabis, the same way you would be conscious of the amount you are pouring for a beverage pairing.”
Grower's bread made with house-milled hemp seed flour and burrata
He created a goat tartare with ramps, smoked salt, scallion ash, and horseradish, paired with two cannabis elements. “The first [way] was to pair with a strain that had elements of heat, bitterness, earth … meant to be smoked with my dish. Secondly, I served a sauce on the side that had some cannabis infused into it. I made the sauce onsite and let the customers decide how much they wanted to add to their dish,” Rosenberg explained.
Rosenberg's goat tartare with a side of infused red chile aiol, served with Jacques Lacan cannabis
From smoking to simple flavors used artfully to infused butters and sauces, this dinner was truly a showcase of cannabis’ versatility in food. StarChefs have hopes to roll out another this summer, working as a catalyst for chefs and cannabis producers to collaborate.
“People were experiencing something they’d never done before, and when I walked around the event, everyone was having a great time, laughing and enjoying interesting and inspiring conversations,” said Wolf. “I can definitely say a dinner like this one has never, ever been done before.”
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