One of L.A.’s most buzzed-about cannabis chefs shares his culinary expertise for elevating this unusual ingredient beyond the basic brownie. Meet Christopher Sayegh: the Herbal Chef
Christopher Sayegh has a reputation. A prominent character in the culinary cannabis scene, the L.A. chef is regarded as somewhat of a mad scientist by peers and fans alike. Founder and CEO of the Herbal Chef, Sayegh has made a career of his unusual catering practices: he and his team put on private, cannabis-infused dinners for two to 50 adventurous diners at a time, travelling everywhere from the Hollywood Hills to Vancouver this past spring.
His journey began when he was studying molecular cell biology at UC Santa Cruz, focusing on cannabis and the endocannabinoid system, before realizing that he could take his studies into the arena of food. “Chemistry is applicable in the culinary field, more so than any other thing, I think,” says Sayegh, whose combination of knowledge and skill have been put to the test in his upcoming book, Perspective: A Guide to Cannabis Cookery. “All it is, is tiny micro explosions happening, you know, simultaneously.”
How to cook with cannabis: The Herbal Chef explains
Keep it cool
Before you begin your own culinary journey with cannabis, Sayegh has a few words of wisdom: “It’s really important not to overheat it past 175ºF, so add it in at the very end. After you’ve made your sauce, say, then add it in off the heat when it’s just warm rather than really hot. For baked goods, you don’t have to worry about it because the internal temperature is pretty low.”
Mix it up
In addition to heat, another key to cooking with cannabis is homogenization: “Make sure you mix it completely, whatever you’re making, because you don’t want one person getting 50 milligrams and another person not getting anything,” Sayegh advises. “Just be aware of homogenization and heat and temperature variances and how that all plays a role in the end product.” Sayegh says that “understanding dosage and getting consistent, quality product from the labs,” when possible, are going to ensure the best experience with your own edibles.
Go all in
Doing your research before you begin experimentation is a great starting point. “If you’re cooking at home for fun, try and know your dose. You should eat other edibles that you know, that you trust, that are regulated and have the proper dosage labelled on them. That way you know what you need, and use it to gauge when you make edibles,” says Sayegh. Use lab tested extracts to make sure the dosage is consistant, and “start really slow. There’s nothing worse than being overwhelmed by an edible.”