Kind Fine Dining

When you think of cannabis edibles, you probably think about brownies, cookies, or gummy bears. That’s because an astonishing 69 percent of all edibles sold in the U.S are either candies or chocolates, according to analysis from infused-goods manufacturer Wana Brands.

Even what few non-candy edibles there often seem to be cheap, sugary foods that have merely been infused with cannabis oil. There’s not much gourmet or culinary expertise in an edible market that still won’t grow up beyond candy and Rice Krispie Treats.

This state of affairs is changing in San Francisco, thanks to a chef who’s worked in multiple Michelin-starred restaurants. Chef Payton Curry cut his teeth in the prestigious kitchens of the French Laundry, Quince, and the now-shuttered Ame, and now he’s concocting fine-dining cannabis cuisine that’s in a different class from the edibles you’re used to.

“I juice cannabis and wash dishes for a living,” Curry tells SF Evergreen, being perhaps more than a little modest. He’s now the founder of Flourish Cannabis, a gourmet-edibles kitchen where he serves as CEO — or, as Curry calls it, “Cannabis Education Officer.” And boy, does he have a vision for making five-star cuisine out of fractional distillations of cannabinoids.

“We’re going to go eat sweets if we eat sweets,” Curry says. “But I would much rather that you eat cannabis in a way that your body’s going to process it efficiently. You can eat it in a baked good, which I still do, but it has a lot sugar in it. Then, your body’s processing that sugar while it’s trying to metabolize cannabis at the same time. Is that efficient? Not so much.”

Curry sees vegan and vegetarian cuisine as a method to unlock more potent and effective effects to the cannabinoids within the marijuana plant.

“Once you are eliminating a lot of false fats, you can really increase how your body reacts to cannabis, and the cannabinoids found in that,” he says.

He executed this vision impeccably at a recent Cannavore dining event at a pop-up restaurant in SoMa, where a six-course prix-fixe of intermezzos and amuse-bouches infused with both cannabis and incredible culinary skill.

SF Evergreen was on hand for the event, and we happen to be staunchly anti-vegan skeptics who generally order bacon cheeseburgers. Sitting at a table full of professional potheads, we rolled our eyes when informed that the first course — a chilled heirloom-tomato soup with cannabis juice made from “shake” leaves — contained a measly two milligrams of THC.

But that was no accident. The chef was taking us on a multiple-hour, six-course journey, and the ride was intended for everyone from the canna-curious to the serious stoner.

And those two little milligrams of THC were paired with two milligrams of CBD, as is the chef’s wont.

“Everything is one-to-one, THC to CBD,” Curry says. “We’re not just coming out and saying, ‘Yeah, psychosis! Let’s just get high!’ We’re about that entourage effect of THC and CBD. We want to feed people food that is rich in both of those molecules, but also as full-spectrum as we can get.”

Serious stoners got an array of super-powered condiments at the table, should they prefer a macro-dose to a microdose. These condiments — or “chron-diments,” if you will — included Flourish Cannabis’ signature products like Chili Crunk, Marynara, and Forbidden Valley Ranch. (All are available for sale on the Flourish Cannabis website, or at various Bay Area dispensaries.)

While this meal was billed under the name “Cannavore Dining,” it was not a carnivore’s menu. Everything was vegetarian. But the “Pot” Roast Herb Basted Maitake Steak entree — which is mostly made of mushrooms — succeeded in tasting just like meat.

Another course that was a big hit was the Creamy Corn Soup, particularly for another professional pothead in attendance. Rachel Anne, founder of the North Bay delivery service Rachel Delivers Results, tells SF Evergreen, “I’m a corn chowder connoisseur. But today, I am a corn chowder cannabis-seur.”

Payton Curry plans to throw these gourmet-cannabis dinners every month, so keep an eye on Flourish Cannabis’ site for future marijuana-dining events. He also hopes to repeat a monthly Cannabis cooking class at the SoMa pop-up space.

“We’re not peddling edibles out the front or back door,” Curry says. “When you walk in, you’re getting CBD and THCA juice. People ask, ‘Where’s the weed at?’ It’s very low-dose. And you will be focused on vegetarian-driven cuisine.”

For more information on future Cannavore dinners or classes, Check A valid California Medical Marijuana ID card is required for attendance.