Weed Coast: The Herbal Chef Comes to Town

A culinary whiz infuses his dishes with a little something special: cannabis.

Let’s face it: cannabis is mainstream. Look no further than the very existence of this column as proof.Even though several local chefs and food experts came forward to be part of this article previewing the very first Vancouver CBD and THC-infused pop-up dinner series by Los Angeles-based Christopher Sayegh, aka The Herbal Chef, I was told that others would risk their reputations by taking part in a story about cooking with cannabis.It’s time to move on and grow up.Let’s first accept that the appreciation of cannabis, from a recreational or medicinal standpoint, does not wholly define a person or their career, any more than would the love of stand-up paddle boarding or the joy of collecting porcelain cats. Secondly, cannabis can be part of a well-adjusted lifestyle, in the same way one might enjoy a morning yoga class or a glass of wine with dinner. In the culinary world, cannabis is just one of many ingredients that can bring balance and elevation to a dish.Chef Sayegh, whose sold-out dinners will be held on April 6 and 7 at a mystery downtown Vancouver location, believes that high-quality local and seasonal ingredients are his foremost concern, while the cannabis infusions are second.“I am especially excited to be in Vancouver for the first time, and to forage in Squamish and around Crescent Beach. It is an honor to be able to walk the land and to forage and fish for our dinner ingredients,” he shared via email from his home in Los Angeles. “Diners can expect to have a meal like they have never had before, a fully encompassing sensory experience.”A showcase of cannabis-infused fine dining inspired by its forthcoming legalization in Canada, guests will enjoy to a cannabis-infused multi-course meal complimented with B.C. wine pairings and live musical performances.“Our standard is about 10mg THC paired with 8oz of wine to act as a catalyst for the metabolism of THC over a two-hour period,” Chef Sayegh reveals. “With this combination, we have found an exceptional balance where people are engaged in conversation, conscious, euphoric and happy.”With 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Kristin Gyurkovits (Tonks), currently a Pastry Chef Instructor at the Pacific institute of Culinary Arts, and her husband, Tyler Gyurkovits, a chef in the film industry, have been following Chef Sayegh for about two years and were thrilled to learn of his Vancouver appearance. They believe he is paving the way for people to explore and gain a better understanding of cannabis-infused cuisine.“Cannabis has always been part of our lives,” Kristin says. “A turning point came a few years back when my father and two nephews became ill with cancer. This is when we began our journey to gain a better understanding about cannabis’ medicinal benefits, beyond than the stigmatization of getting “stoned.” We believe it has preventative healing properties and is a beneficial element in our overall health and wellbeing.”Samantha McLeod, a Vancouver-based freelance travel and food writer, and founder of eathical.ca, focuses her passion on organic, gluten-free and sustainably-sourced meals, and shares similar viewpoints to Chef Sayegh and the Gyurkovitses.“Cooking with cannabis makes sense in my world because I have always promoted the health benefits of herbs, spices, and natural foods. Cannabis is a natural product, grown for centuries on this planet, used by countless cultures as a natural medicine,” she explains. “Cannabis is as natural as it gets, and I pray it stays that way. I think we must promote cannabis as what it is: a plant-based food to be used with other natural foods. We have to consume the best medicine for our individual health. Cannabis is much more than way to ‘get high.’”Looking forward to the dinner, Chef Sayegh notes, “We also never force anyone into anything, so if they didn’t want the infusion then we happily oblige and give them an incredible culinary experience regardless. We treat all of our ingredients, including cannabis, with respect and integrity.” The breakdown: The sold-out Herbal Chef Pop Up will be held April 6 and 7 at a secret Vancouver location. Tickets are $200 per person. Inquiries may be sent to herbalchefvan@gmail.com.