Cannabis and food have always gone well together, but smoking is usually thought of as a munchie maker and not part of the meal. Just like wine is often paired carefully with fine food, Cannabis Catered Events created a five course menu and paired each course with a unique strain of flower that would compliment and elevate the flavors on the plate. They’re creating something less stuffy than fine dining but more elevated than munchies; this is high dining.
Rudy G. Sta Ana, aka Chef Flip Fantabulas, is the heart beating at the core of Cannabis Catered Events. His infectious energy is the type that draws people and turns a dinner into an event. His inspiration to cook comes from his roots in the Philippines. He says, “The men are chefs where I am from.” He added cannabis after a shoulder surgery. “I was prescribed Percocet and they did not work, then I tried some edibles and they worked like a charm,” he said
Just before doors opened, Sta Ana was by his car. “I had a few last minute things dropped on me, but I’m trying to work around it,” he said. His infectious energy and passion for food is obvious, and draws talent around him. “With events, just like in the kitchen you have to deal with things that come up and problem solve.” As he changed shirts, he said,“I just want to make the best dinner for you guys. That’s why I do this, because I’m really passionate about it.”
The theme of the night was Vendor Highlights, and guests could peruse a variety of cannabis companies’ offerings during cocktail hour. There was something for an eclectic range of tastes. Downstairs were classic alcoholic beverages as well as THC- and CBD-infused cocktails with fresh fruit. Upstairs were lemonades infused with cannabis-derived terpenes from True Terpenes, mixed to taste like specific strains of flower. Happy J’s offered CBD and THC medicated chocolate samples. There was a dab bar and custom joint station, where you chose a strain or blend of flower and had one hand-rolled in front of you. And if you didn’t want to talk to anyone, you could pluck a pre-roll from one of the literal flower arrangements of roses, cannabis leaves and joints in glass vases.
The long wooden table was elegantly set with the standard array of fancy silverware flanking menus, but joined by rolling papers, lighters and small glass pipes. Arranged on centerpiece trays were packaged pre-rolls, terpene drops and CBD olive oil, in case you needed to offset the psychotropic effects of the copious amounts of THC. A hand-rolled blunt in a lettuce leaf sat at every place setting, as an alternative salad course.
Sta Ana says a team prepared the meal,“The featured Chef of the night was Hydro Chef Devon who prepared the meals, helped by Sous Chef Brandon, Chef Buds, Chef Sus Eats, Chef Maureen, and Master Chef Ralph. Chef Stoned Layla did the main dessert.”
Speed seemed to be the overall challenge of the night. Getting a bunch of stoned people organized after consuming cocktails and cannabis was a bit like herding cats, but eventually everyone was seated. Aside from navigating the clouds of cannabis, the team had to elegantly plate and serve (and photograph) 38 meals with only a small kitchen at their disposal. But live music from the band Coleslaw and a constant flow of cannabis and conversation kept guests entertained between courses.
Before plates were brought out, jars of flower from Source Cannabis were served for the table to consume. The first course was bresoal al carpaccio, delicately rolled meats drizzled with smoked lemon olive oil and dressed with an edible nasturtium flower. The rustic, salty pork with pops of sweet pomegranate seeds paired beautifully with the earthy, woody terpenes in the King Louie OG strain.
Second was frittelle di carciofi, or an artichoke fritter, paired with an OG from Green Mamba. A man spoke about how to properly smell flower, much like tasting wine. He instructed to open your mouth and breathe through it as well, sort of “huffing”, so the terpenes can pass the palate. He instructed us to “cup our hands around the jar and our noses to create a seal, and breathe in.” As guests sniffed with intent, Dulce Garcia suddenly said, “Oh! You have to open it first!” Laughter spread across the table, along with the realization that many people were taking in the subtle fragrance of lids.
Somewhere between the step-and-repeat and passing joints around the dinner table, the crowd of random people became a group of compatriots. The night had a mix of elevated, intellectual touches with casual, friendly fun. It felt more like an intimate dinner party at someone’s hip downtown loft than something you would buy a ticket for on eventbrite.
A citrusy third course of calamari panzanella paired with Source Cannabis’ Quest sativa flower was followed by filet de manzo al cafe with Fenix CBD’s Blueberry Muffin. The CBD-heavy flower, technically classified as hemp because of its low THC content, helped ground diners after the more intense earlier strains. The warm flavors also complimented the coffee rubbed steak and local romanesco.
Dessert prepared by Chef Layla was the only medicated dish. The meyer lemon cake had 12 mg THC and 8 mg of CBD and was infused with True Terpenes’ Super Lemon Haze. It was also served with a lightly medicated caramel frozen coffee, to lightly perk guests up after a long meal.
The artist High Sun was painting live during the night and “capturing the vibe of the room.” He had created a triptych on wood of delicate white lines moving in serene but energetic waves. He said he met Sta Ana at another event and agreed to paint at Vendor Highlights because of his passion and warmth.
Sta Ana says the evening “was really the culmination of the relationships that I had developed this past year.” His statement was echoed by the band, chefs and vendors – who all noted his energy as why they were there. It was more of a friendly community coming together to create a great night than a series of sales pitches and advertisements, which something called Vendor Highlights could have easily become.
As people chatted and shared Instagrams while finishing dessert, Sta Ana said, “It took a little longer than we’d like, but I think everyone had a good time. Most people here don’t know each other, but food and weed bring people together.”
Cannabis Catered Events is a perfect example of the LA cannabis community coming together in this new legal landscape to blend the classic feel and artistic vibe of the stoner community with a high-class modern twist. Like a traditional fine food event with artfully plated gourmet dishes to please the palate and the eye, but with a touch of psychedelic fun and laid-back cannabis vibe. It’s a chilled-out version of fine dining, like Hell’s Kitchen if Gordon Ramsey was stoned. Sta Ana gathered a team that brought excitement and passion for their craft – whether it was hand-rolled joints, terpenes or fine cooking – and they all came together to create a truly intoxicating evening.