Film and TV

Denver Cannabis Chef Takes on Bobby Flay, Without the Weed

Jarod Farina will appear on the Food Network Thursday, August 4, at 7 p.m.
Jarod Farina will appear on the Food Network Thursday, August 4, at 7 p.m. Courtesy of Jarod Farina
Colorado chef Jarod "Roilty" Farina's reputation will be on the line in an upcoming episode of the Food Network's Beat Bobby Flay, but he'll have to compete without a key part of his cooking arsenal.

Farina doesn't own a restaurant: He runs a private catering and dinner service that specializes in multi-course meals infused with cannabis. Although the South Florida native couldn't use cannabis in his dishes during the recent Food Network filming, it wasn't something he'd shied away from during the audition process.

"I signed up for it and got lucky. You put yourself out there and hope for the best," he says. "They liked the fact that we did a fine-dining element with cannabis, and I hope it's represented in the show. We'll see how they edit it."

If there's anything that rivals Farina's drive for cooking with cannabis, it's cooking with eyeballs on him. A veteran of Chopped 420 on Discovery Plus and Bravo's Southern Charm, he's well aware of what television and media can do for his business. But even without the hype, he says, he'd gravitate toward cooking under pressure in a competition.

"You don't know what [ingredients] you're going to get ahead of time, so you have to be quick with it. It's not something that's cut out for everybody," Farina explains. "It's more about being competitive and in these situations again. That kind of stuff appeals to me."

Farina's infused catering service, Dine With Roilty, cooks and infuses dishes right in front of the guests — and actually, Roilty is the invited guest. Customers book Dining With Roilty for dinners and events, and then Farina and his crew show up at their homes to whip up a meal. In order to stay within Colorado's confusing cannabis business laws, Farina asks that the customer provide the cannabis concentrate for a pre-approved menu, and then he infuses the dishes tableside.

The "canna-leaf pasta experience" is the current star of Farina's menu.

"We take fresh pasta, roll it out with fresh cannabis leaves inside the sheets, cut those sheets into fettucini and put it in garlic and herb sauce. Then we serve it atop a pillow of cannabis smoke and grate fresh cannabis on top of it, too," he details. "It just tastes like another herb inside of it."
click to enlarge
Dining With Roilty's current signature dish, the canna-leaf pasta.
Courtesy of Jarod Farina
His Italian heritage steers him toward olive oil infusions, but Farina says he also prefers using olive oil because it's a lighter fat than butter, and putting it on top of dishes is a relatively simple way to add cannabis to a meal. This also allows him to dose each dish to a customer's preference. And now that he's nailed his infusions technique, he'd rather focus on the cooking, he notes.

A former hashmaker, Farina entered cannabis extraction competitions in California before dedicating his career to food. When he made an infused meal for friends on New Year's Eve 2015, he found his true calling. Farina began traveling around the country and across Europe to eat and train his way toward becoming a professional chef. Now he might be squaring up against one of the country's most famous names in the kitchen.

To go up against Bobby Flay, however, Farina will have to beat another chef in a preliminary competition. While he can't share much about the results before that episode debuts August 4, he calls it "a fast-paced and fun experience," which he's already parlayed into an appearance at the Denver Food & Wine Festival in September.

But first, Farina's planning to host a catered watch party on Thursday, August 4, at JAD's Mile High Smoke, Colorado's only licensed cannabis bar. Bump into him, and he might just give you some cooking tips.

"I don't think there is a certain cuisine that lends itself to cannabis. There's not a dish I wouldn't try to infuse," he says. "For anyone just getting into infusions, though, the easiest things to infuse are sauces. Something you can top the dish with, and anything with a lot of fats. That's the way to go, because you can top the dish with it at the end."
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Thomas Mitchell has written about all things cannabis for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate and general news along the way for publications such as the Arizona Republic, Inman and Fox Sports. He's currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.
Contact: Thomas Mitchell