Few things mix as well as marijuana and food. Still, it’s rare to find both a good cook and a good budtender in the same person. That’s about to change.
Mindy Segal, a well-known Chicago chef, said in December that she would use her culinary talents to whip up cannabis edibles for medical marijuana patients. She will be baking for Cresco Labs, a cultivation company with three grow sites in Illinois, and she’s likely the first celebrity chef to join the marijuana industry.
Segal said she would be baking granola bites, chocolate brittle bars, cookie batter, and hot chocolate. The recipes come from Cookie Love, a cook book she wrote dedicated to cookies, and should be out by the end of February.
Illinois adopted medical marijuana by legislation in 2013. The first dispensaries started serving patients in November. Patients with any of roughly 40 listed diseases are eligible for medical cannabis; the list includes cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS.
Edible products increasingly popular
The stores initially didn’t sell edibles because they’re harder to make than most other marijuana products. But if the experience of other states is any guide, edibles will likely become even more popular in Illinois than smokeable cannabis.
Segal, 48, isn’t entirely new to marijuana baking. She has “dabbled” in cannabis cooking before, she said, but only for personal use, not to sell. She said she gave the food to friends who suffer from chronic pain.
Tastier medicine for patients
She said she plans to take her business to other states that allow medical marijuana. There are currently 33, though edibles are not allowed in more than a dozen of these states. Segal said she hopes that the better her food tastes, the more it will help patients whose disease or treatment makes it hard to eat.
“I have a lot to learn and a lot to give,” she said. “I’m hoping I can be a leader in the industry.”
Segal said she would use different strains and experiment with potency and various recipes. She said she would start with a peanut butter brittle, a salted toffee smoked almond brittle, and caramelized white chocolate with hints of butterscotch.
Cresco, meanwhile, will be responsible for dosing the food accurately so patients get exactly the amount of cannabis they need. Segal said she picked the company because co-founder Joe Caltabiano survived cancer himself and has a “heartfelt approach.”
More celebrity chef involvement expected
And Segal may not be alone. Though she was vague on details, she told a reporter there are other celebrity chefs who might join the industry.
She plans to do the cooking at Cresco’s grow site in Joliet, Ill., one of as many as 22 such farms across the state. Segal said she would supervise the Joliet kitchen but wouldn’t do the daily baking herself.
“Having someone with Mindy’s name brand and credibility enter the cannabis industry says a lot about where this industry is headed,” said Cresco’s other co-founder, Charles Bachtell.
For now, Segal said, she hopes to expand her business to at least five other states in the near future. If her cannabis treats are a hit, she could go even farther than that.