Edmonton

Canadian chef has high hopes for cannabis-infused fine dining

The legal sale of edible cannabis is still a year off but a Canadian chef is discovering a definite appetite for it at his private parties and events.

‘Cannabis and food do go together’: Travis Petersen says the appetite is growing

Travis Petersen, chef and owner of The Nomad Cook, prepares cannabis-infused food at a private dinner party event in Edmonton. (Sam Martin/CBC)

The legal sale of edible cannabis is still a year off but a Canadian travelling chef is discovering a definite appetite for it at his private parties and events.

Travis Petersen, the chef and owner at The Nomad Cook, a Vancouver company that hosts pop-up dinners, has started catering events serving cannabis-infused dishes.

"Cannabis and food do go together. Some people may not understand it, but don't knock it till you try it," he said at a dinner earlier this month where he served a five-course meal to Edmonton customers.

VIDEO: 'Cannabis and food do go together'

Private chef Travis Petersen, The Nomad Cook, takes CBC behind the scenes as he prepares and serves a five-course cannabis-infused dinner. 1:59

As he circulated, he asked each client how potent they want their cannabis-infused food. One enthusiastic woman answered, "The higher the better."

Depending on the diner's preference, Petersen added cannabis-infused oil to menu items with a small eyedropper. As he later told CBC, "I love that the two oldest ladies in the building are both like, 'As much as you can give me.' " 

His first public cannabis dining event was in Vancouver on April 20.

Petersen said his business was launched in a legal grey area. Under federal legislation, selling edible cannabis products isn't expected to become legal until October 2019.

After Oct. 17, when recreational cannabis use became legal, he stopped hosting public events and now only caters private events, such as in homes or with membership-based organizations.

Those events, he said, operate within current regulations.

A dining event including a four-course meal is priced at $150 per person with a minimum of eight guests.

In advance, each diner signs a waiver explaining their history with cannabis use. Petersen then individually micro-doses each dish to their liking.

He said the dining experience has become a bigger hit than he initially expected.

More than 160 turned up for his first event and the demographic they represented "blew me away," he said.

"The age was 19 to 70, people from all walks of life, race, religion. It didn't matter."

Petersen is based in Vancouver but he credits the Edmonton food scene for inspiring his culinary career.

He had been living in Edmonton for five years, working at a variety of jobs. After being laid off from an oilpatch job, he became a contestant in 2015 on the third season of MasterChef Canada.

He said Edmonton remains his most popular market for his business, and is returning here for a private event on Dec. 12. "They know their food, they love their pop-ups and they support their chefs like no other city does."

Petersen plans to release a cookbook of recipes featuring cannabis infusions, and eventually will sell edible products when it becomes legal next year.

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