There was once a time when Andrea Drummer was completely against cannabis. That is until she met a cannabis advocate whose success and productivity as an attorney challenged her point of view and opened her mind to the possibilities of how she could use the botanical wonder in her own profession.
She started a culinary events company called Elevation VIP Cooperative and began curating high-end fine dining experiences via private cannabis-infused functions and invite-only VIP dinners in Los Angeles. Since then, the classically-trained Le Cordon Bleu graduate has been trailblazing through the industry with cooking that combines French technique and Southern cuisine.
She took some time to talk about her craft, her favorite strains to cook with, and how excited she is to be a part of the first cannabis cooking competition airing on Netflix this month.
High Times: What does the cannabis culinary scene look like in L.A.?
Andrea Drummer: Right now, it’s kind of exploding and there are a lot of pros and cons to that. There are a lot of really great chefs getting into it and getting involved which helps bring a sense of normalcy to what we’re doing which is good.
My mission is to make cannabis cooking a broader conversation among a more diverse group of people and not just preaching to the choir. The negative part about it is that there are people who are exploiting the craft and just adding cannabis butter to things and getting people too high.
Are there challenges that come with being a cannabis chef?
When you introduce cannabis into the cooking process, it becomes more science-based. You can’t just add a little more butter or oil because then you are changing the dose. Honestly, cooking with cannabis forced me to become a better chef, which I definitely appreciate.
Edibles have a reputation of just being highly doped with the sole intent of getting people really high. So, changing the narrative of that and educating people on the evolution of edibles has been a little bit of a challenge.
How did you learn about the science of incorporating cannabis into your culinary work?
It was trial and error. I had to educate myself and work at being present through the process. Of course, it helped that I had graduated from culinary school so I had the training but I still had to learn about different strains, I had to teach myself how food responds to the bud and all about butters and oils.
How do you decide which strains to use in your dishes?
The first part is to assess the table and what the people eating want to feel. The second part of it is kind of like going to a spice shop. I smell strains, decide how I want to incorporate it into a dish and begin to build a menu around that. I let the bud speak to me and tell me what it wants to become.
Are there strains that you use more often than others?
I use a lot of Blue Dream. I like the flavor profile and I like its versatility. It pairs well with both savory and sweet dishes. So does Lemon Haze. But, I like trying new things.
Do you have any tips for chefs looking to cross over into cannabis world?
The first thing would be to enter the industry with good intentions. It’s important to really know your stuff, know your product and become well-versed in it.
Aspiring cannabis chefs need to know the THC levels of the product they’re working with and if it’s CBD rich, they need to know how to speak about it and whether it’s organic, outdoor, greenhouse or whatever.
You need to understand your product and how you’re incorporating it into your food so that you know what you’re giving people and how you’re dosing them.
What’s the next step in normalizing cannabis cooking even more?
Education, awareness and continuing to have cannabis present in mainstream spaces. I just curated a CBD menu for a boutique hotel in New York that also includes products like body treatments, skin care and CBD snacks like granola and even doggie treats. So, I’m so excited and I hope to see more of that around the country. It lets people know that it can be done.
Can you tell me anything about the cannabis cooking competition show you’re in that’s coming out on Netflix?
It’s kind of like a Chopped type of show with a twist. There’s comedians and different celebrities that are judges. Ngaio (Bealum) is there as the weed expert. I’ve seen it already but I don’t know if they’ve made any changes or new edits to it. It’s gonna be really interesting to see what people think of it. I’m excited to watch it along with everyone else to see the finished product.