Over the past decade, Herbal Chef owner Chris Sayegh has built a fan base cooking cannabis dinners across Southern California. Because of her success and popularity, Sayegh is now preparing to open his first bar, lounge and restaurant in Santa Monica called Nostalgia. Not only does the arrival give Sayegh a permanent home, but it also opens the discussion about cannabis use lounges in the greater Los Angeles area.
Sayegh completed his culinary training (including with chef Josiah Citrin in the Michelin-starred Mélisse) and applied it to the creation of cannabis meals that can stand on their own and at the same time the addition of CBD and / or THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis. The Coming Nostalgia is a culinary take on food from the 1970s to early 2000s. “A blast from the past, but more modern,” says Sayegh, describing the food and drinks. Nostalgia will initially be more of a lounge hangout, with plans to evolve into a full-service restaurant over time.
When it opens in December 2021 or January 2022, Nostalgia will have a relatively short menu. That could mean a lobster roll with caviar or branzino fish and chips. Sayegh serves dips and vegetables that change with the season, while dessert features an ice cream push pop, a nod to kid enjoyment. The feed does not contain any CBD or other cannabis.
Sayegh is outsourcing and promoting the conversion of cannabis into quality foods across the country
However, Sayegh will use CBD and terpenes in the beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. CBD and terpenes contain the non-psychoactive element of cannabis. Bartenders old-fashionedly adapt to the season, using summer peach or winter melon. There are also drunken versions of childhood beverages, including one that tastes like otter pops and another that resembles Capri Sun. Readers may recall that CBD cocktails were essentially banned in 2018. Recently, California Assembly Bill 45, passed in October 2021, made it legal to serve them again.
Although Proposition 64 legalized recreational cannabis use in 2016, it is unclear whether it is completely legal to serve cannabis-infused ready-made meals even in private settings. While AB 45 allowed the serving of CBD cocktails in public places, cannabis-infused food is still off the table. For years, chefs in the LA area have prepared private cannabis dinners with unclear legal bases. Savegh plans to host member-only private dinners at the Nostalgia, which cost about $ 295 per person. In comparison, the currently closed Original Cannabis Cafe in West Hollywood allows cannabis use on-site with no membership fee in the form of smoking, vaping, or drinking (although the food itself does not contain cannabis).
West Hollywood remains at the forefront as a cannabis-friendly city. When adult use was legalized in 2017, WeHo officials developed a process for promoting cannabis businesses. This made it possible to consume cannabis products locally within the city limits. The Original Cannabis Cafe, which opened in 2018, remains the first and only establishment of its kind in all of Southern California. More lounges should follow, but the COVID-19 pandemic has stopped much of it for now. However, Original Cannabis Cafe has proven that cannabis use lasts for a very long time.
In Orange County, there are still plans to open a consumption lounge at Santa Ana Dispensary Planet 13. In Nevada, several other consumer establishments are slated to open in Las Vegas in 2022. Currently, cannabis nutrition is restricted to private homes and not in public spaces, with the Las Vegas Cannabis Regulation Commission primarily focused on urban pharmacies and regulation.
For the past several years, Sayegh has hired chefs who prepare private cannabis meals across California, Florida, and Colorado. He has plans to expand into New York, Arizona, and Illinois, which recently passed their own laws on the use of adult cannabis or for medicinal purposes. The process of the tasting menu has been optimized by Sayegh over the years. Sayegh works with seasoned chefs but offers guidance based on his cannabis cooking experience and how to coordinate meals.
“The herb chef has grown so much,” says Sayegh. “We get 200 emails a month from people in the US. We hire, train, and learn about cannabis chefs in other states. They are already very accomplished cooks. We basically implement the cannabis part of everything, show them our service steps and how we work. ”In a way, he’s able to outsource the information and encourage the introduction of cannabis in high quality foods across the country.
Herbal Chef’s team took over the closed Speak Easy space near Santa Monica College. It’s a sizable property with a 3,000-square-foot interior and a 3,000-square-foot terrace. Sayegh also plans to publish his first cookbook and a line of edibles that will be available in pharmacies next year. Once open, Nostalgia will keep its daily opening times from noon to 2am
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