What’s the proper way to pair cannabis and food?

In the food, infusing recipes with butter or oil prepared with cannabis for diners to experience and absorb as they eat?

Or perhaps with the food, introducing cannabis to diners’ senses of taste and smell in smoked form — a joint, a pipe, a bong delivering flavors, aromas and intoxicating elements that heighten the pleasure of food?

In reporting and compiling the profiles of 11 well-respected chefs working in the cannabis-food scene for this culinary opus on the San Francisco Chronicle’s new Green State website, I discovered there’s a disagreement among high-profile chefs pushing cannabis cuisine to haute heights.

One side says, “No Smoking.”

One side says, “Smoke — Taste the Plant with Your Food.”


First, Chris Sayegh, aka The Herbal Chef,  told me in a recent interview:

“With all due respect to people who are pairing cannabis outside the food, the integrity of the food is the most important thing for me. This is a culinary experience with an accent of cannabis rather than a cannabis experience with food thrown in. When you pair food with a joint or a blunt or a pipe, you’re getting a ton of carcinogens, you’re getting the butane from the lighter and undesirable soot on your palate that degrades the food you’re tasting. The only way I would pair cannabis with dinner is to use a vaporizer or a clean dab rig so people get a clean flavor pairing.”

Holden Jagger of Altered Plates cannabis catering told me recently:

“I am actually less drawn to infusion and far more drawn to pairing cannabis, smoked in joints throughout the meal. We do a three-step tasting process. The first step is sniffing the cannabis as you would a glass of wine. The next step is a dry-pull where you put the unlit joint to your lips and taste the flavor of cannabis. The final tasting point is when diners smoke the joint. I’ve actually smoked a number of joints and tasted a number of base elements of these meals. That’s where these pairings come from.”

Here’s what I wrote about mixing cannabis with wine and food, something I dubbed a trioing rather than a pairing at a cannabis cuisine event in Humboldt County in September:

“My first trioing was dessert-first: a super-sweet CBD-infused petit four, a sip of Mendocino merlot and a bowl of Girl Scout cookies. Merlot, usually, too thin for my tastes, turned thick and jammy against the sugary cake bite. A sweet toke let it all linger.”