By Lauren Donnelly
VANCOUVER – World-renowned chef Christopher Sayegh brings the high to haute cuisine this month with a pop-up feast for the senses. Let him prime your palette for 4/20 with his pioneering take on cannabis-complemented cuisine. For two nights only, April 6 and 7, at a top-secret location, Sayegh will guide Vancouver diners through a multicourse experience combining local ingredients with THC and CBD extracts. And this isn’t your average edible experience. Chef Sayegh is a Michelin-trained chef whose eight-course tasting menu is a true adventure down the rabbit hole. Sayegh’s done his research, putting his background in science to good use. He’s studied the endocannabinoid system, extraction methods, and vetted sources to make sure the dining experience is meaningful to guests looking to heighten their dining with light doses of cannabis. Featuring locally-sourced ingredients — including wares from local partners like the Quarry and Aura Cannabis –– the emphasis is on quality and community. Sayegh’s soiree aims to destigmatize cannabis by fusing fine dining with local wine pairings, music, and stimulating conversation –– is this heaven? We spoke to the Herbal Chef to find out what makes Mary Jane such a great dinner guest.
BR: What’s the biggest misconception about cannabis-infused cuisine?
CS: That it’s either a gimmick or it’s easy. It’s neither. Cooking with cannabis is definitively harder than cooking without it. The logistics alone create another layer of hardship on top of running a restaurant.
BR: You say you want people to experience food, not just eat it. How does cannabis enrich the dining experience?
CS: Cannabis is a sensory enhancer. So while we send out our timed and specifically dosed menu we can see diners embark on and enjoy the culinary journey we have set forth. It helps enrich the smells, the flavours, the atmosphere and the overall energy of the meal. It’s a new way to experience fine dining.
BR: How do art and music add to the dining experience?
CS: Because cannabis enhances the senses, it’s important to have art and music that create a distinct atmosphere as well as stimulate conversation based around the composition. It elevates the dining experience.
BR: Remember that cop who called 911 when he ate too many edibles? Have you ever had any bad experiences while experimenting?
CS: Oh boy… back when I was first starting out it was very difficult to get lab tests for the concentrates which is not how I like to do things. Long story short, I was bamboozled by the person I was purchasing the extract from, because it was more potent than what they said. I ate a small amount of the edibles I made with it and completely lost it for the next eight hours. In fact the only reason I think it lasted eight hours instead of two days was because I threw up everything a couple hours later. I was so high I couldn’t focus on anything but trying not to toss my cookies. There’s quite a bit more to this story, but I’ll leave it at this…don’t fuck around with edibles if you don’t know the potency.
BR: What’s your favourite music to listen to while cooking?
CS: The genre depends on how much work is left to do. If we have a ton of catching up to do, I need a pump up –– hip-hop and rap, something along the lines of Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, or Logic. If we’re on track with our prep and are smooth sailing I enjoy listening to something chill –– Masego, FKJ, Mura Masa. If I have no worries at all (like I’m cooking for friends/family) I enjoy some Frank Sinatra.
BR: Favourite music to listen to while smoking? (Do you smoke?)
CS: I love to smoke and usually prefer a joint. I do not, however, smoke while I’m cooking or allow any of my staff to as we need full focus to execute our dinners. While I smoke I like to listen to a combination of the above with some classical music.
BR: The Pharcyde’s “Pack the Pipe” or Cypress Hill’s “Hits from the Bong”?
CS: If I had to choose out of only these two, I’d say Cypress Hill’s Hits from the Bong. We actually catered a Cypress Hill party on a rooftop venue called Green St a while back.
BR: Tell us a bit about this dinner, what can Vancouver expect from the experience?
CS: Vancouver can expect a culinary showcase first and foremost. Made with ingredients that we go out and source ourselves either by hand from the ground, off our fishing poles or from the farmers themselves. They can expect a subtle shift in their perception as the dinner continues. Guests will go from an excited anticipation to a euphoric sensation before finishing the evening in blissful relaxation. As their moods shift, the food and the music will help their heightened senses get the most out of the experience.
Chef Sayegh hosts two pop-up dinners in Vancouver on April 6 and 7, and space is limited. The dinners begin at 7 p.m., and their location will be revealed just prior to the event. Tickets cost $200 (including gratuity and a gift bag). Enquire about tickets here: firstname.lastname@example.org and find out more about the Herbal Chef at http://theherbalchef.com/