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How Cannabis Dinner Pairings Brought New Life to a Private Chef

How Cannabis Dinner Pairings Brought New Life to a Private ChefEXPAND
Jacqueline Collins

Laurie Adams likes to roam. After moving from Oklahoma to Colorado in 1997, the private chef and caterer decided to head to Italy to study cooking, eventually living on a working farm near the Italian Riviera coastline while learning how to cook what the land offered.

"The roosters on the property woke me up every morning. Not confined to cages, they just roamed all over the property," Adams remembers. "I was intrigued. That was one of the most tranquil places I have ever been."

Adams brought her new culinary skills back to Colorado, applying Italian and Mediterranean techniques to Colorado ingredients though her Roving Rooster catering service. But she didn't want to stop there: Now Adams hosts private dinners in which she pairs cannabis with each course, figuring out which tangerine strain pairs well with a creamy pasta dish. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has obviously thrown a wrench into her plans, Adams is still plugging away at smaller, more intimate dinners and is currently planning a New Year's Eve feast. We caught up with her to learn more about pairing cannabis with food, and where the Rooster will roam next.

Westword: What led you into pairing meals with cannabis?

Laurie Adams: For me, creating delicious, seasonally inspired food was always paramount, but a close second was to offer a curated, out-of-the-box experience to our clients. We started working within the cannabis space more frequently after we began catering awards parties for the Grow-Off. We threw a really unique "Brunch Off" award party downtown on a Sunday a few years back, where we paired each brunch entree with a dab station. It was a lot of fun, and interesting to focus on the flavor profiles of cannabis as it relates to food. I loved creating intimate coursed dinners with wine pairings for clients, so I decided to create a more robust chef's dinner by adding a cannabis pairing to each course.

Let's say you're planning a dinner paired with cannabis during the fall. What are you rolling out?

I let the season dictate the menu; it's the only way to go. In the fall, you have bountiful produce, so it gives me lots of freedom. After I plan the food menu, I move on to pairing each course with a cannabis strain and beverage or wine pairing. When pairing cannabis with a course, I apply the same principles as one would for wine pairing. For example, if I am serving a creamy pasta dish, I would tend to pair that with a wine that has some citrus notes to cut the cream. Same with the cannabis pairing — something tangerine-leaning comes to mind.

How does cannabis use affect your clients' enthusiasm for eating?

Well, it certainly doesn't hurt!

Are some strains or strain characteristics more helpful at inducing the munchies than others?

Sure. I try not to promote the munchies too much and actually focus more on flavor profile. I usually like starting off with a sativa-leaning strain, some hybrids in the middle, and then progress to an indica by dessert. I do tend to go with strains that don't have the highest THC levels, or also include some CBD to reduce the "munchie effect." After all, I do want my guests to remember what they ate.

Are some dishes better than others for people who don't want to pass out after a cannabis-paired meal?

I try to keep the courses pretty varied and mix up the balance of dishes — some heavy, some lighter, and, you know, let the season dictate.

Cannabis obviously helps us eat, but what about its effect on our cooking skills? What are your thoughts on cannabis use while cooking? Any personal experience? (I tend to forget the oven is on a lot...)

Personally speaking, cannabis and creativity in the kitchen go together pretty naturally. Whether I am in my kitchen creating or executing a menu, I enjoy smoking a nice creative hybrid strain.

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My worst fault when using cannabis in the kitchen? Burning nuts.

How has the pandemic affected your business or the types of events/clients you're serving?

Back in mid-March, we had to pivot pretty quickly. All of our large summer bookings either canceled or were simply put on hold. We quickly put a delivery dining program in place, and due to the support of our clients, we delivered a lot of meals. We were even able to donate some weekly meals to those hit hard by the pandemic. As we moved into the summer, we returned to catering small gatherings and private chef dinners again. We had booked a July mountain wedding buffet feast for forty, which quickly changed to a four-course brunch for two people. At 12,000 feet next to a mountain lake, it was lovely and unique.

The chef cannabis-curated dinners continue to be a solid offering, because it is something that can be enjoyed by a small group of two to six people. Today I started work on a New Year's Cannabis Chef Dinner for four in Breckenridge for a client. Really looking forward to that one!

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