Chefs: De­mand ris­ing for cannabis-in­fused food

Chefs see a trend in cannabis-in­fused food

The Arizona Republic - - Front Page - Trevor Hughes

Chefs say cannabis-in­fused food and drinks are the top din­ing trends they ex­pect to see in 2019. These prod­ucts are made with CBD, a non-psy­choac­tive com­pound ex­tracted from cannabis plants.

DEN­VER – Sprin­kled on dough­nuts, mixed into milk­shakes or in­fused into olive oil, make no mis­take: Cannabis is com­ing to a kitchen near you.

Chefs across the coun­try said cannabis-in­fused food and drinks are the top two din­ing trends they ex­pect to see un­fold in 2019, al­though we’re not talk­ing about food that will get you “high” – these are prod­ucts made with CBD, a non-psy­choac­tive com­pound ex­tracted from cannabis plants that en­thu­si­asts say of­fers health ben­e­fits while tempt­ing the palate.

“I’m telling you, 75 per­cent of my clien­tele is doc­tors, nurses and lawyers,” said Josh Sch­wab, 45, whose Den­ver-area dough­nut shop, Glazed & Con­fuzed, makes a CBD-frosted dough­nut

topped with a can­died hemp leaf and sells more than 30 each week­end day.

“You get all the re­lax­ation with­out the head high. It kinda just takes the edge off.”

Jonathan Ep­pers, 35, has seen the rock­et­ing CBD in­ter­est first­hand: Launched a year ago from Los An­ge­les, his CBD-in­fused Vybes drinks are avail­able in 19 states, in­clud­ing New York and Florida, in fla­vors such as blue­berry mint and black­berry laven­der.

“I was tired of liv­ing ev­ery day anx­ious. I wanted to be more present and calm. That’s what CBD does for me,” said Ep­pers, whose fledg­ling com­pany sold more than 1.1 mil­lion bot­tles last year.

An an­nual poll for the Na­tional Restau­rant As­so­ci­a­tion checked with more than 650 pro­fes­sional chefs. Of those, 77 per­cent said CBD drinks are the No. 1 trend they see for 2019, fol­lowed by CBD foods.

Zero-waste kitchens were the third top trend iden­ti­fied by the chefs, who are all mem­bers of the Amer­i­can Culi­nary Fed­er­a­tion and who pre­vi­ously sin­gled out ar­ti­sanal cheese, house­made condi­ments and sa­vory desserts.

Heads-up: These same chefs said pret­zels in desserts are on their way out.

Hud­son Riehle, 65, the restau­rant as­so­ci­a­tion’s se­nior re­search di­rec­tor, said it’s too early to tell whether CBD is just a fad that will fade into his­tory like molec­u­lar gas­tron­omy or meals served in ma­son jars.

U.S. restau­rants are an $850 bil­liona-year in­dus­try that em­ploys about 15 mil­lion peo­ple, and the daily con­ver­sa­tions chefs have with cus­tomers help in­form the sur­vey, Riehle said.

“Ul­ti­mately, what the con­sumer wants comes to fruition,” he said.

Be­cause CBD prod­ucts are of­ten de­rived from hemp, which is usu­ally im­ported but is le­gal na­tion­ally, din­ers can ex­pect to see CBD on menus across the USA, al­though spe­cific reg­u­la­tions vary.

Al­though there’s rel­a­tively lit­tle peer­re­viewed re­search avail­able on CBD’s health ben­e­fits, its fans say it can help treat in­som­nia, anx­i­ety, pain and seizures. Oth­ers say it pro­vides mild re­lax­ation with­out in­tox­i­ca­tion. (Mar­i­jua­nain­fused foods are a dif­fer­ent story.)

At Colorado’s The Ce­real Box, where cus­tomers can add a $3 scoop of CBD pow­der to their ce­real, cof­fee or milk­shake, co-owner Lori Hofer said she spends a lot of time ex­plain­ing the dif­fer­ence be­tween CBD and THC, the mar­i­juana com­pound that gets you high.

“We have to tell them ‘This is not some­thing you’re go­ing to get high from,’ ” said Hofer, 40. “But you get a moms group in here with a bunch of kids, and she might want some CBD.”

The Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion said any­one mak­ing spe­cific health claims about hemp-de­rived CBD prod­ucts must first sub­mit them for re­view, and mar­i­juana-de­rived CBD prod­ucts re­main il­le­gal at the fed­eral level, no mat­ter whether they’re le­gal in states. CBD is short for cannabi­noidol, one of the many com­pounds in both hemp and mar­i­juana plants, which are col­lec­tively known as cannabis.

Fed­eral un­cer­tainty aside, cus­tomers can buy CBD prod­ucts such as JuJu Royal’s $50 in­fused olive oil, Still­wa­ter’s Clock­work Cof­fee and Coali­tion Brew­ing’s Two Flow­ers IPA.

Mar­i­juana re­search firm Green­wave Ad­vi­sors pre­dicted the CBD in­dus­try could reach $3 bil­lion by 2021 and even­tu­ally more than $200 bil­lion a year in the USA. A farm bill that le­gal­ized U.S.-grown hemp could fuel CBD in­dus­try growth in the com­ing years.

At Otium in Los An­ge­les, bar­tender Chris Ami­rault makes sev­eral drinks with CBD, in­clud­ing the Pineap­ple Ex­press, which is based on a Ne­groni, and the Blue Dream, a spiked Mai Tai. Though many CBD prod­ucts are made with odor­less, taste­less pow­der, Ami­rault, 30, uses CBD oil, which he says gives an un­mis­tak­ably “herba­ceous” taste: “Guests are all about it. They’re ex­tremely cu­ri­ous.”

Long­time CBD evan­ge­list Joel Stan­ley, 39, said he has watched for years as CBD slowly gained recog­ni­tion, first for treat­ing seizures in chil­dren, then more broadly for aches and pains, re­lax­ation and anx­i­ety.

Some pet own­ers cham­pion CBD prod­ucts for ag­ing an­i­mals strug­gling with joint pain.

“We’re just at the tip of the ice­berg of what CBD and cannabi­noids can of­fer,” he said. “We’re go­ing to find out what all these tools can do af­ter be­ing pro­hib­ited for so many years.”

PHO­TOS BY TREVOR HUGHES/USA TO­DAY

Glazed & Con­fuzed serves dough­nuts topped with a CBD-in­fused glaze, a can­died hemp leaf and gin­ger­bread.

A Den­ver-area pet store dis­plays a sign that claims a long list of health ben­e­fits from CBD, a com­po­nent of hemp and mar­i­juana plants.

Cus­tomers at the Ce­real Box in Ar­vada, Colorado, can ask em­ploy­ees to add CBD pow­der to ce­real, milk­shakes and cof­fee.TREVOR HUGHES/USA TO­DAY

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