- I went to a weed dinner party in NYC and ate three courses of food that got me high.
- The Korean fried chicken, cucumbers, and doughnut holes were all infused with THC olive oil.
- To my surprise, the oil didn’t negatively affect the flavors of each dish.
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New York state legalized cannabis on March 31, making it the 15th state to do so. Though New Yorkers over the age of 21 can legally possess and smoke marijuana, sales are still illegal and not expected to start until mid-to-late 2022.
Recently, I bought a $200 ticket to a dinner party with a prix fixe menu-for-two. Of the seven courses on the menu, three of them were infused with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component in the cannabis plant — yes, the part that makes you feel “high” when you consume it.
Jae Lee, chef and owner of Nowon, told Insider he thinks incorporating THC into menus will become more common as sales become legal. Rather than waiting to follow in others’ footsteps, he wanted to lead the way.
“I wanted to start this movement,” Lee said. “I wanted to do it because I really believe in it and I don’t want to be secretive about it.”
So, Lee partnered with CBD and THC company Drip Lab to create a night of celebrating weed and the different ways it can be used in the culinary world. To my surprise and delight, the robust flavors of Lee’s food weren’t compromised at all.
Chef Lee’s Korean fried chicken.
I thought THC would compromise the flavor — it didn’t
I’ve tried different edible cannabidiol (CBD) products — different brands of flavored gummy candies and liquid drops — and each time I was met with the same bad aftertaste. It’s this somewhat chemically, somewhat earthy breath that comes back at you and fills your mouth, coating your palate with unpleasantness regardless of whatever delicious flavor the candy packaging promised.
Because of that experience, I expected the THC to also take over the flavor profile of Lee’s food. Thankfully, I was wrong.
The chef was working with THC in the form of olive oil. The oil was infused to the amount of 10 milligrams of THC per teaspoon. Rather than cooking the oil, he used it to finish three of the seven dishes sent out to diners.
You can see the THC olive oil left on the plate (right) after I ate all the cucumbers (left).
First, I tried it drizzled on top of cucumbers. I was able to taste the oil in the same way that I’d taste a finishing oil used on soups or slices of fresh mozzarella. The flavors were robust and rich with all the nuttiness of great olive oil, and none of the strangeness of a CBD product.
When it came to the Korean fried chicken, I didn’t taste the oil at all, just the crunchy texture and bright flavors of the dish that I’ve tasted before sans THC.
The last course of infused food was dessert: doughnut holes.
Rather than drizzling the oil on top of the confections, Lee filled a plastic dropper with 1/2 teaspoon of it and stuck it in the top of the doughnut as if administering an injection.
Chef Lee’s Yuja doughnut holes with a THC oil-filled bulb.
The savoriness of the oil complemented the acidity and strong citrus flavor of the Yuja (the star flavor in Lee’s doughnut holes) beautifully. This was the one dish where the flavor of the oil actually made a difference in the overall taste, but it was a welcome addition — think olive oil cake flavored with a citrus curd on top.
Overall, I was impressed with how seamlessly Chef Lee married the cannabis to his carefully created food.
Razo, co-founder of the Drip Lab, told Insider that he’s gotten calls from other chefs around New York City wanting to host similar dinner parties at their own restaurants. Experiencing Lee’s ingenuity first-hand made me excited to see what other chefs come up with next.
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