Health departments in New York and other cities are banning restaurants from selling CBD-infused food and beverages, putting an unexpected halt to a booming industry. Why is CBD coming under such intense scrutiny as a food additive, when CBD itself is finally legal to sell and use?
The world’s foremost cannabis and CBD chef, Andrea Drummer, a former drug counselor turned definitive expert on edibles and cannabis is also the recipient of the first set of on-site conception license for the city of West Hollywood. She is the go-to cannabis food and beverage personality, featured on Netflix shows “Chelsea Does” and “Cooking On High”, and was recently named among the 10 Top Cannabis Chefs in the country.
In addition, she’s the Food Editor for cannabisMD—the leading unbiased non-advocacy cannabis and CBD education platform.
Chef Drummer explains the circumstances that have led to CBD being banned as a food additive.
What sparked your interest as a child in cooking?
I grew up in South Florida. I have fond memories of traveling back and forth to my parent’s hometown in Georgia stopping on farms and orchards to pick fruit in season like plums and blueberries. My grandmother was tickled that my mom would make preserves out of the fruit. I was curious about the cooking process as well as the tastes for each part of the fruit or vegetable. I would watch my mom cook and always ask questions. But being a southern gal, I didn’t think of cooking as a career.
Tell us about your career path.
I began my career as a youth advocate and anti-drug counselor with organizations like Planned Parenthood. Wanting to transition from non-profit to pursue my passion, I attended Le Cordon Bleu, Los Angeles. That’s where I experienced an extreme shift in consciousness, and since then I have been a pioneering force in the culinary and cannabis industry, starting my cooperative, Elevation VIP in 2012.
I am a staunch advocate for the legalization of marijuana, and I have gained a wealth of knowledge working with local activists and allies while innovating edible cuisine to access the full properties of the cannabis plant. I have shared my expertise by partnering with The James NoMad Hotel in New York by curating an in-room-dining CBD infused menu that is currently available for guests.
Who were some of your mentors that have made an impact on your career?
Chef Grant Achatz was phenomenal at his craft and after being diagnosed with cancer, he cooked his way through that ordeal. At one point I was a strict vegan, but still cooking meat products for my clients. His story encouraged me to really use all of my senses, let my taste buds lead me. Anthony Bourdain was a huge influence on me. I learned from him to study your craft, that artistry does not have to be confined to one thing, that you could be a culinary artist, a food writer, an author of books, and then take it to a different level.
Where did your interest in CBD oil for cooking come from?
After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu, I began cooking professionally and in my 30’s started experiencing different aches and pains. While working I was using my body and muscles at capacity. I had injuries to my back and arms. Doctors prescribed a variety of medications that I had no interest in taking. After six months of just dealing with chronic pain, I was introduced to the CBD as an alternative and that did it for me. My personal experience led me on this mission to share the benefits of CBD oil.
We are a little confused, how can the City of New York ban something that wasn’t legal, to begin with?
CBD is legal in all 50 states, but the problem is the FDA does not regulate it. There’s no regulation to implement the use of CBD products.
Different products are out there and we don’t know how they’re processed. It’s a very new industry with no guiding light. We need guidelines so we are able to trust in the products that we are ingesting.
Let’s go back to basics, what should the goal of a chef/restaurant be to add CBD as an ingredient? Is it a fad?
My goal for the concept is of course to have a great culinary experience but also to provide insight into the products and the health benefits.
I think this is too huge and the benefits are grand. So no I don’t think it’s a fad at all. We are in the beginning stages and the industry has to figure out how to grow, regulate and share guidelines and instructions on how to actually use them properly.
So teach us. Is there a flavor profile to CBD oils in a recipe?
Some of them do have flavor profiles or additives, but the ones that I use do not. You know you have to be careful about again how they process it.
I use a really amazing high-quality olive oil to mix in the CBD. The CBD oil doesn’t compromise the flavor component of the food.
That may be an easier way for a chef to actually be able to use CBD because they are more familiar with traditional olive oil.
What are some of your suggested CBD oil recipes for restaurants looking to add it to the menu?
A chef can get started creating CBD infused salad dressings. That’s an easy way to add it to their menu. They are really great because they’re pretty straightforward to make and the calculations are easy to apply and manage.
You’ve been a regular on cooking shows that focus on cannabis. How are those shows helping the CBD culinary industry grow?
They are bringing awareness to CBD. We are normalizing the conversation and the industry while sharing information.
When we went for comment last week to the major broad-line distributors last week, we spoke to deaf ears. How and when do we get the distributor community on board?
Distributors are waiting to hear more about regulation and implementation. I think we will get them on board as this whole crackdown improves in time and with regulation. I know California is a totally different situation.
In the meantime, where can a chef source CBD oil and recipe ideas?
There are tons of books on the market in fact I have one out there on Amazon, Cannabis Cuisine: Bud Pairings of a Born Again Chef, a few of my colleagues have great books out there including a cocktail book including:
- Edibles: Small Bites for the Modern Cannabis Kitchen by Stephanie Hua w/ Coreen Carroll
- Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails and Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks & Buzz Worthy Libations by Warren Bobrow
- Mary Jane: The Complete Marijuana Handbook for Women by Cheri Sicard
- The 420 Gourmet: The Elevated Art of Cannabis Cuisine by Jeff The 420 Chef
And a few online CBD resources:
What impact will CDB oil have on the sale of alcohol in a restaurant?
I’m actually hosting a panel at the Nightclub and Bar Show in Las Vegas in March discussing this topic. One of the panel speakers has seen their sales increase. Right now we’re adding it to cocktails. We’ll be able to determine what it means as we track the sales. We are going to see a great increase in profits.
You work with cannabisMD, how can they assist the operator looking for more info?
I’ll be writing at length merging the cannabis and the food world in my column, about resources and recipes and things that people are interested in with my hope to improve the gap between the industry, the culinary artist and the community.