Can you get high on Haute-Cuisine?
We spoke to Chris Sayegh, aka The Herbal Chef, the Los Angeles based man bringing plant medicines into the kitchen.
What do you do?
I am a chef who uses plant medicines to cook high-end cuisine. I work with CBD (Cannabis Oil) as a way of de-stigmatising plant medicines and helping people experience its health benefits.
When did you get into hosting CBD dinners and why?
I studied molecular cell biology in UC Santa Cruz, and it was here that I began to explore what cannabis could really do to my body. It was really enlightening for me. I had no idea how amazing this plant was. I started to study the endocannabinoid system and found that our bodies are meant to receive the THC in Cannabis. It allows the body to reach homeostasis more easily, so it functions at an optimum level and can heal quicker. I couldn’t believe it was still illegal when it was so clearly helping people.
Politically, it’s a rival cash crop to Oil, Textile and Cotton. I became a big advocate. Cannabis is so much more than just getting high. That was back in 2010, and I realised that my passion didn’t lie in becoming a doctor. I don’t want to fix someone after they are hurt, I want to be in preventive health and medicine. Food is the first defence we put into our body, so I decided to take this to the next level and introduce Cannabis into food. I started experimenting. That was 10 years ago. Now, many of those processes have turned into the practices that underpin our work with The Herbal Chef.
Ooh, share some of your insider tips?!
It’s all about temperature. Anytime you heat it past 120 °F, you lose terpenes, and at 173 °F is when cannabinoids combust. THC’s limit is 163 °F, so anytime you heat it, you lose properties. The trick is to finish sauces and then gently heat to incorporate. It’s about heat, time and homogenisation. You don’t want someone getting 10 grams of THC when someone else gets nothing.
How long have you been cooking with CBD?
6 years, since 2012. It definitely wasn’t legal back then, but I was experimenting! It wasn’t commercialised. Now, we have what we need to operate legally. It was either push the envelope or wait for someone else to do it and not do it properly.
We get such an array of human beings at these dinners. You would never find them sitting together otherwise. By the end, everyone is laughing and having a great time. We’ve had political leaders, celebrities, athletes, people who love cannabis, people who love edibles, grandparents and mums doing it for the first time.
How many do you hold a month?
Between 2-6. I’m also focusing a lot on education, working with huge companies to educate consumers and building out a curriculum.
So what happens, do you get high?
When we work with CBD, the answer is no because it is not psychoactive. It is more about allowing your body to absorb the incredible benefits of CBD through a high-end dining experience. The bioavailability through ingestion is much higher than through smoking.
But in certain dinner experiences where we use THC, you will feel elevated. With typical edibles, you get that sensation all at once, but because we introduce it in stages over multiple courses, it is more of a slow-release experience. This is a fundamental part of our philosophy to do it this way. Ultimately we don’t want to overwhelm people, but enable them to experience a joyful time.
Weirdest thing that has ever happened?
I had no idea that this would take me across the world so quickly. I’ve just been in the Middle East and I’m working on an Arabic curriculum for Saudi Arabia. They are really into CBD, so this is my way of bringing it round the world.
Can anyone come?
In California, you have to over 21 and have your medical license, unless it’s a private event.
Plans for the Future?
A restaurant called Herb is in our plans and we have just wrapped up our cookbook, Perspectives on Cannabis Cooking; we have expanding into other countries to spread education about CBD and The Herbal Chef curriculum is coming soon too.
Other people you admire?
Personally I loved Albert Einstein and Nikola Tesla. Science has played a huge role in our company. We honour anyone who loves their craft.
Any advice for people just getting into CBD ?
Yeah! CBD is great and you should be using it everyday. Just make sure what you are getting is verified through Lab testing and that it contains 68 cannabinoids . There’s a lot of snake oil going around. Do I recommend taking THC? That’s up to the individual.
What brands do you recommend?
We have our own, which is water soluble and is the most trustworthy in my opinion. For topicals, I like Apothecanna. As far as extracts go, Nature’s Lab is a really good one. I think in the edible world, there is Kiva, and In smoke-ables, by which i mean CBD flowers, try Lowell Farms.
Ever been to a Cannabis Ceremony?
I have heard there are a few going on, but Cannabis isn’t as spiritual as other plant medicines yet. People are still getting into it and figuring it out. We have a camping trip coming up and we are going to do a ceremony so there is more connection between us, the food and the plant. Before each dinner, we talk about how this is a conscious plant and invite people to respect what it is good for, that this is the best way possible for the body to absorb all of its benefits.