By Carey Jones
Updated June 23, 2016
Credit: © FWx

It’s no secret that many chefs partake in the occasional (or more-than-occasional) joint. So it’s little surprise that at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colorado — where recreational marijuana is fully legal — there were more than a few culinary folks interested in sampling the local wares, both smokable and edible.

We spoke with a prominent California chef about his thoughts on Colorado’s burgeoning pot scene, whether his own state is far behind, and whether chefs have a particular affinity for the green stuff.

Did you explore the weed scene in Aspen — any of the legal dispensaries?

Well, I partake in weed anywhere I go. Doesn’t matter what city I’m in or whether it’s legal, I still partake.

I definitely checked out the dispensaries. I loved seeing how all the shops had totally different aesthetics, and it was cool to see their different styles, and see how they displayed the weed differently — some allow you to touch it, some don’t. And there were some strains that I hadn’t seen before that aren’t popular on the West Coast.

Anything you found that you hadn’t encountered before?

They mostly have the same gadgets that we do in California, like electronic cigarettes, which are great for traveling especially, you can smoke in public without people knowing. The only thing I’d never seen was a glass blunt roll — it looked kinda like a chillum, but had a rubber gasket to move in and out like a plunger. You pack it with a ton of weed like you would a blunt, then push out the plunger to ash it.

I was going to get one, but then asked the guy at the store what he thought, and he’d never smoked out of it. So I didn’t buy it. Not a good sales tactic!

And what did you think of the weed itself?

What’s crazy is that the weed is actually better in California, I think. The Colorado weed was really dry in comparison. It’s a combination of climate and how long it’s been sitting around. The thing is, I’m very spoiled — California has some of the best weed in the world. It’s the same with our produce. We just have the right weather for it.

Do you think as a chef, you pay more attention to flavor and product quality?

Not as a chef, but as a connoisseur. The fact is I’ve been smoking heavily since I was 15, pretty much nonstop, except for 3 months because I had to get life insurance. It doesn’t do everyone well, but it does me well. So I know what I like.

I compare weed to tomatoes — you can have so many different kinds of heirloom tomatoes, all different colors and shapes and textures and levels of sweetness, but at the end of the day they’re all tomatoes. It’s the same thing with pot.

Have you played around with edibles — either eating them, or cooking them?

I don’t really fuck with that. I’m a straight flower guy more than a candy eater. I mean, I’ve done it all — brownies, cookies, savory food. But I don’t necessarily love the taste of it. It’s kind of like wheatgrass, which I don’t like, that earthy-green taste.

You pick up such different flavors smoking it. Just like tobacco is so different between different kinds of cigars and cigarettes, pot has so much variety. I’d rather just smoke a joint any day of the week.

If California fully legalizes weed, do you think you’ll see something like you do in Colorado — the different kinds of edibles, the shops, etc?

Honestly, it’s already happening. It’s just not legal. But it’s not hard to get a medical marijuana card, if you’re into it. If it’s fully legalized it’ll just be one less hurdle that needs to be jumped.

And it’ll make it more accessible for tourists. I asked the folks in Aspen whether this was a busy week for them, over the Food & Wine Classic, and they were packed — slinging tons of weed. Most people who are into good food and wine are also into getting a little loose.