Higher learning: Stratfords Chefs School offers cooking with marijuana course

You've likely heard about pot brownies or cannabis candies, but a cooking with marijuana course at the Stratford Chefs School will have students whipping up some finer dining options like chimichurri for steak or a hollandaise sauce for eggs.

Students learn how to infuse cannabis into oil and butter and use it in favourite recipes

Eli Silverthorne teaches the course How Do I Use That? Cooking With Marijuana at the Stratford Chefs School in Stratford, Ont. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

You've likely heard about pot brownies or cannabis candies, but a cooking with marijuana course at the Stratford Chefs School will have students whipping up some finer dining options like chimichurri for steak or a hollandaise sauce for eggs.

Eli Silverthorne is the instructor for the popular class that's open to the public.

"We're introducing people into items or techniques or methods that they might not be familiar with. So spiralizers and mandolins, instant pots, cast iron cooking. And we felt that as this legislation came through and it's a new food topic that this would be a great way to slide into there and show people how to use something that might be new to them," said Silverthorne.

This is a large hunk of butter infused with marijuana, which is what gives it a slightly greenish hue. The butter can be used in nearly any dish in place of regular butter. And yes, the butter smells very much like pot. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

'Last thing you want to do is double up'

As part of the class, 16 people sit down at a long dining room table and learn about different aspects of marijuana that you need to know before cooking with it.

That includes how to dose food properly — Silverthorne says that's their most popular question.

"It stays in your body, it takes longer to kick in and it actually makes you feel inebriated a lot longer," he said.

"It is also understanding that if we are eating it to be patient. If you are eating it wait a bit and then have some more because it's not like smoking it's not going to be instantaneous."

He added, "The last thing you want to do is double up waiting for it to kick in and then you're too far down the road."

People who take a public cooking class at the Stratford Chefs School start by sitting together at a long dining room table and talking about the cuisine they're going to learn to cook. After a quick lesson, they head into the kitchen. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Infused oils and fats

Then the students are taught how to make infused oils and butter, which can then be substituted for fats in other recipes, including a sunflower-seed pesto, a vinaigrette and even brownies.

"The majority of the course is when we're going to be talking about the edibles," Silverthorne said. "We'll talk about the science and the different methods to do that and then we'll get right into the recipes and show people how to get cooking."

Silverthorne notes while there's a hands-on element and people do get to cook in the class, it's important to know they won't be cooking with marijuana during the course. Instead, those who take the course can take the recipes home to make dishes for themselves.

People who take the course at the Stratford Chefs School are given background information on legislation surrounding edibles in Canada, a way to calculate dosage as well as take-home recipes for how to make marijuana-infused butter and oil, along with other recipes like sauces and brownies. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Edible legislation coming in October

The people who have been taking the course so far seem to be people familiar with marijuana, either as medical users or people who used recreationally before cannabis was legal, Silverthorne says.

But he expects that to change in the coming months as edible legislation comes into effect in mid-October, and food items go on sale in mid-December.

"There might be a lot more people that are trying it for the first time because at this point with it still being a smokeable idea, there is still that stigma behind it," he said.

But Silverthorne says he's not sure marijuana will be part of meals at restaurants any time soon. The new legislation doesn't allow for it and he says there are some concerns because marijuana takes a while for a person to feel the effects, whereas alcohol is more immediate.

This cooking oil has been infused with marijuana, which gives it that green tinge. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Distinct taste

The taste of the dishes will also be different than what diners might be expecting from a classic vinaigrette or hollandaise sauce, Silverthorne said.

"There is a considerable taste to it," he said.

"What we're gonna be seeing with the majority of these recipes is that it is standing up against other strong herbs that are going to almost mask the flavour a bit because it can be a bit pungent on its own."

He said flavours like cilantro and basil mask the marijuana taste, so it suits dishes such as pesto or chimichurri.

The next course offering is on Saturday, but it will be offered again in the coming months.

Eli Silverthorne works in the kitchen at Stratford Chefs School. The school offers courses to the public throughout the year. The Open Kitchen classes include learning the fundamentals of cooking, trade secrets and other 'How Do I Use That' courses like how to use an immersion circulator or mandolins. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)


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