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Cannabis Cooking Thrives In Iron Chef-style Competition

Will weed-infused cuisine change the art of the dinner party?

Cannabis Cooking Thrives In Iron Chef-style Competition
[Photo: Flickr user Paul Kitchener]

Like Magic Markers, gasoline, and other modern marvels, high-grade marijuana tastes a lot worse than it smells. Which is why its edible forms usually come in sweets (like a Space Cake) and not something more refined (like a Space Kale salad).

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But with legalization snowballing, some new users on the margin are working to figure out how to get marijuana on the dinner menu. Less smoke, less high, less social stigma, and longer-lasting medicinal effects are the payoff. Yes, you can even juice it.

“In terms of food, cannabis will be seen as just another spice or herb that can be added to dishes to invoke a medicinal effect and unique flavor,” says Matt Gray, cofounder and CEO of The Stoner’s Cookbook, a site that offers high-quality DIY cannabis recipes.

And that means new cottage industries. The preprocessed edible industry is already exploding, but the emergence of a dining movement is just beginning. The Stoner’s Cookbook has 6 million active users, and the site has grown 500% since this past winter. “It’s a group of friends making medicated cookies for a birthday party,” says Gray, “or a woman making medicated salad dressing for her mother, who is going through chemotherapy, so she can sleep at night.”

To see the incipient culture in action, Gray and I meet at a “smoking club” called iBAKE Denver to witness a new event called The Medicated Chef. The concept is based largely on Iron Chef, but the dishes all include cannabis, usually in oil form, as the active ingredients are fat soluble.

The event is a success; several local chefs have turned out and at least one of them runs a high-profile kitchen. She has prepared sliced steak on toasted flatbread, with arugula and some cannabis-infused aioli. The judges sit around a circular table and sample each of the dishes.

I try the steak flatbread and a few other concoctions; you can’t even smell the key ingredient. But don’t worry: later, you’ll feel it.

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Marijuana cooking is on the rise outside Denver too: Cookbook sales are up on Amazon, there’s a cannabis-infused pizzeria in Oregon, a weed-infused pasta sauce company in Pennsylvania, and an edible marijuana food truck in Denver.

Since weed-infused commercial cooking isn’t exactly legal or culturally mainstream in most of the restaurant world, the weed cooking revolution will happen behind closed doors, in peoples’ homes. Or at least it will begin there. “Find a few recipes that excite you. Prepare a dish with some of your close friends. And then enjoy a beautiful three-course meal that stimulates the senses and leads to enlightening conversations, and laughter,” says Gray. “What’s not to like?”

Related: Two Beginner Mistakes To Avoid When Cooking With Weed

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About the author

I've written about innovation, design, and technology for Fast Company since 2007. I was the co-founding editor of FastCoLabs

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