For centuries, the world’s chefs have paired their creations with wines to enhance both the meals and the vintages. It’s a marriage so successful that a fine dining doesn’t seem complete without it.
Now, with cannabis now legal in much of the United States, Chef Jesse Garza--a Farmersville native who once plied his trade at the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas--wants to make the matching of fine food with edible cannabis just as common and satisfying.
“I enjoy it the same way I enjoy pairing it with wine,” he says. “I’m doing a lot of cannabis tasting all the time, like we used to do wine tasting.”
Chef Garza began his culinary career in the fast food industry and eventually moved to a job in food services at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. It was there he discovered his love for cooking, and with the encouragement of established chefs, decided to take his career to the next level.
“I found a passion for cooking,” he says. “I found a couple of chefs who really motivated me, told me I had to step up my game. They saw something in myself I didn’t see when I was cooking.”
Also a passionate consumer of cannabis for many years, Chef Garza combined his two loves to create an art that goes far beyond medicated sweets.
“It’s about a lot more than gummies and brownies,” Chef Garza says. “It’s about showcasing what we can do with it.”
While he still maintains a day job as a chef at the Landings Restaurant in Las Vegas, Chef Garza spends his evenings creating what he calls “elevated” dinners, five-course meals that pair his offerings with various varieties of lab-tested cannabis.
“I’ll come out and talk about each dish and what they’re paired with,” he says. “I have a budtender there with me who talks about what’s in it, how much THC, how much CBD.”
The meals he creates are much more about flavor and the dining experience than they are about creating a high. And the ways he finds to incorporate cannabis into his dishes varies widely.
“I’m doing everything. There are no boundaries with it anymore,” Chef Garza says. “The flower is a spice. I use it as a rub. It’s like thyme. It’s like a truffle. It’s there but you don’t see it. You add it to elevate the dish, it’s flavor.”
He also finds cannabis makes an excellent addition to his sauces, as well as serving as a garnish for his dishes. “We’ll do beef short ribs with (an elevated) chocolate garnish right on top,” Chef Garza says.
Finding the right cannabis for the right dish, he says, is a matter of experimenting. He encourages would be elevated cooks to be adventurous. “What I do is taste them (cannabis strains), try them out and pair them to create an elevated dish,” Chef Garza says.
He also cautions those who engage in cannabis cookery to be careful about even dosing.
“The same amount of cannabis is in each dish,” Chef Garza says. “Everybody wants to get high, but at the same time we want everybody has a good time.”