Cannabis supper clubs and pop-up dinners are on the rise. Marijuana plus fine dining—it’s hardly a new concept, but it’s part of a growing movement to educate cannabis consumers and showcase how you can get creative with the plant. Having a concrete safe space to consume as well as a curated, high-quality menu gives attendees a chance to come together and enjoy carefully paired marijuana-infused dishes. These marijuana culinary events prove cannabis edibles have come a long way from the dosed brownies and cookies you may have consumed in your youth.
Canna-culinary events are designed to spark creativity and connection. They’re a wonderful way for seasoned marijuana consumers and the canna-curious to meet. Unlike an un-medicated dining experience in a restaurant, a canna-culinary event emphasizes collaboration during and after the meal prep.
Over a dessert with infused-honey, a sweet partnership or new idea may bubble to the surface. Often, cannabis supper clubs host a cocktail event before the dinner begins, so people who may be a little nervous about trying an infused meal can relax before the food is served.
Culinary marijuana events are about having fun, but they’re also about teaching attendees how to use cannabis in the kitchen in creative ways that works for various tolerance levels. Chefs will often address dosing, and the wisdom of “go low, go slow” in order for guests not to get overwhelmed by the powerful effects cannabis edibles can produce.
Chefs at cannabis culinary events typically tell attendees how many milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are in each plate, so diners can titrate their respective doses. Many chefs also create custom plates for each diner, so one person with a low tolerance can stay within their comfort zone while someone else who tolerates THC well can feel the plant’s effects.
Rather than heavy-hitting, couch lock-inducing edibles, cannabis supper clubs generally follow the lead of the low-dose movement. This way, guests get to enjoy the effects of cannabis and still socialize. THC doses in the range of 2.5–5 mg per person are common at these events and can yield more subtle effects.
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Contrary to the popular myth that marijuana consumers’ tastes run towards junk food like frozen pizzas, donuts and Doritos, diners who attend cannabis-infused supper clubs know they’re going to get gourmet dishes prepared by master chefs who use quality ingredients in their pairings.
Incorporating lessons learned while he was a chef at Michelin-starred restaurants Mourad and Aziza, cannabis enthusiast Michael Magallanes now runs San Francisco’s cannabis supper club Opulent Chef. Michael creates tapas-style dishes and uses cannabis flowers, extracts and infused oils to showcase cannabis’s herbaceous nature in his food. Meanwhile, terpenes, which are chemical compounds found in marijuana and other natural ingredients, add important flavor profiles to his finished dishes.
Jamie Evans, founder of The Herb Somm, has a strong background in fine wines and recently started cooking with cannabis. In 2018, she began hosting Thursday Infused events at the Naked Kitchen, a quirky purple Victorian house in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission district.
“It’s amazing to see participants smell wine and then smell cannabis—a lightbulb goes off,” Jamie says. By comparing the two, people better understand the link between aroma and flavor, which in turn enhances the dining experience.
Cannabis supper club hosts also get creative with their calendar, often choosing themes for their meals to add another dimension to the events. The Cannaisseur Series is one of the longest- running supper clubs in San Francisco, founded by chef Coreen Carroll and fiancé Ryan Bush. Previous dinner themes include Spring Quinox, Herbal Cheese Feast, Speakeasy Prohibition and Hightoberfest.
They’re currently selling tickers for their offering in time for Pride month, the Wake-N-Bake Drag Brunch. Attendees can celebrate diversity alongside drag queens dressed to the nines for “wigs swigs and puffs.”
Cannabis events are trending in major cities around the U.S. Even in places like New York, where marijuana possession is still restricted, cannabis-infused dinners are held in secret, undisclosed locations.
These meals can be pricy, because a lot of work goes into a well-curated event with fresh farm-to-table food and organic, triple-tested-for-purity flowers and extracts. If you feel uncomfortable with the fact that they aren’t accessible to everyone, it’s worth seeing if the culinary cannabis event you’re interested in has a charitable element to their program. For example, San Francisco’s Thursday Infused series offers cannabis events for under $100, and also donates part of the proceeds from each event to local charities.
Due to more states legalizing recreational marijuana, it’s easier than ever for event organizers to offer an ongoing series of cannabis supper club evenings, instead of the one-off, pop-up dinner. While that’s also a viable and fun way to host an event, it’s helpful for those with busy schedules to have more than one chance to attend a canna-culinary evening. Regular, repeat opportunities for sharing a meal and learning about cooking with cannabis is also a great way to create community, whether folks are marijuana industry professionals or cannabis newbies.
See the following list for established cannabis supper clubs and groups that host pop-ups. Sign up early, though. These events are popular and often sell out.
Photo credit: Jay Wennington