Yellowknife chef becomes nationally certified cannabis sommelier

Robin Wasicuna recently completed a two-level course on the subject and said he wanted to learn more as the sale of edible cannabis products will be legal in Canada in mid-December. 

Robin Wasicuna hopes to develop recipes for multi-course gourmet meals containing cannabis

Yellowknife chef Robin Wasicuna recently completed a two-day course to become a certified cannabis sommelier. He says he wants to develop multi-course meals using cannabis. (Angela Gzowski Photography)

A Yellowknife chef says he's the first nationally certified cannabis sommelier in the N.W.T.

Robin Wasicuna recently completed a two-level course on the subject and said he wanted to learn more as the sale of edible cannabis products will be legal in Canada in mid-December. 

"It's a lot knowledge crammed into two days, you learn quite a bit of stuff," he said.

"I can look at any bud of a cannabis flower now and just by looking at it, touching it and smelling it, I can tell you whether that plant was grown at a high elevation or a low elevation, whether it comes from the southern hemisphere or the northern hemisphere and what the genealogy of that plant is." 

Multi-course meals

Wasicuna said he's hoping to work on a line of edible cannabis products, but not to expect the gummy candies and chocolate bars many cannabis consumers may be familiar with. 

"I want to do like four to five course gourmet meals as well," he said. "My background and my direction is not a candy maker but a chef so that's where I'd like to see it go."

Robin Wasicuna, right, says he wanted to take the cannabis sommelier courses because he hopes to develop multi-course meals containing cannabis once edible products are legal in mid-December. (CannaReps/Facebook)

The chef said his aim isn't to overwhelm people with the intoxicating effects of cannabis but to educate people about its flavours. Over the multi-course meal, he said consumers will ingest between 20 to 25 milligrams of THC. 

"It'll be like having you know that extra glass of wine at the end of the meal, you're going to get a little tipsy but the doses would be controlled to the point where you're just taking little micro-doses with each course."  

While all cannabis shares similar flavours, Wasicuna said different varieties do have slightly different tastes and smells. 

Flavours and smells

"The Haze variety is a perfect example, generally has a very citrusy smell and a lot of like fresh cut grass," he said. "Whereas an Afghanica strain would be kind of grassy but like dry grass and not so citrusy. There's a little bit more of a funky note in there like a deeper, earthy, wooden kind of smell to it."  

During his final exam for the level two course, Wasicuna said he had to identify four different varieties of cannabis and three types within each variety. He described one type in the Himalayan group as smelling like parmesan cheese and beer. 

"As soon as you pick it up and smell it you're like 'what the heck is this?' No idea. I've never smelled anything like that in my life as far as marijuana goes," he said, noting another type in the same group smelled like earth, wood and gasoline. 

A cannabis worker displays fresh cannabis flower buds that have been trimmed for market in Gardena, California. Robin Wasicuna says different varieties and types of cannabis have different flavours and smells. (Richard Vogel/The Associated Press)

Cannabis is often infused into dishes, Wasicuna said, but flowers can also be grated over a dish as an herb garnish. In that case, consumers would get the flavour without the intoxicating effect of cannabis as the THC is not activated.

Wasicuna said he believes in the future there will be restaurants and lounges that feature cannabis products and meals.

"I think this is the way we're going and that was part of it, was to just kind of get ahead of that curve and have that knowledge and start educating others as well," he said of taking the course. "Showing people and the general public that we're a responsible community, not just a bunch of potheads." 

Written by Emily Blake, based on an interview by Marc Winkler


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