Dude… You Know What Would Be Good Right Now?!
I’ve gotten more emails about a recent New York Times article on marijuana use in restaurant kitchens than any in the history of the site. I suppose it’s time for everyone else to weigh in.
When I was a lad, the drug of choice in restaurants was cocaine. Whether you indulged or not it was prevalent in the industry as a way to get through the exhaustion of long shifts in a hot kitchen. These days the preferred drug seems to be Marijuana. Personally, I can’t imagine taking a break from work for a quick smoke. They find me sitting in a corner of the walk-in with a bull of frosting clutched between desperate hands.
Some choice quotes from the NY Times article:
…a handful of chefs are unabashedly open about marijuana’s role in their creative and recreational lives and its effect on their restaurants.
The chefs and restaurateurs Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo said most of their projects — going to Sicily to import olive oil to sell at their two Frankies Spuntino restaurants; the concept for their Brooklyn restaurant Prime Meats; even a new restaurant planned for Portland, Ore. — were conceived with the creative help of marijuana.
Stoners coming to Portland? (Gasp!)
Getting in touch with the haute stoner food aesthetic, though, does not necessarily mean looking at life through a haze of smoke.
The cereal milk soft-serve ice cream at Momofuku Milk Bar in Manhattan is a perfect example. A dessert based on the slightly sweet flavor of milk at the bottom of a cereal bowl particularly appeals to someone who knows both high-quality food and the cannabis-induced pleasure of a munchie session built from a late-night run to the 7-Eleven.
Christina Tosi, the pastry chef of David Chang’s empire, said she was stone-cold sober when she invented it. She was in the basement of Mr. Chang’s Ssam Bar late at night, trying to save a failed experiment in fried apple pies.
Even for people who don’t use illegal drugs, the deep flavors and sensory appeal of dishes like the breakfast burrito pizza at Roberta’s in Bushwick, Brooklyn, have an undeniable appeal. They plug directly into the reptilian portion of our brains, the side that wants what it wants and wants it now — and also a big bowl of it, please.
“I always call it the Big Mac effect,” said the chef Vinny Dotolo, who owns Animal in Los Angeles with Jon Shook. Mr. Shook’s version of the French-Canadian dish poutine, built from Cheddar cheese and French fries covered in oxtail gravy, might be considered for the haute stoner food hall of fame.
The McDonald’s sandwich is familiar and offers a range of tastes, Mr. Dotolo said. There are savory elements from the cheese and beef, sweetness from the sauce, tartness from the pickle and crunch from the lettuce, all surrounded by soft white bread.
“It’s that thing where you’re trying to hit all the senses,” he said.
More states are legalizing marijuana or offering medical marijuana plans, so there is more and better pot in circulation, Mr. Falcinelli and other chefs said. At the same time, diners are wild about high-end snacking: witness the rise of food carts and the elevation of humble dishes like pizza, hamburgers and pork buns.
The chefs of the haute stoner cuisine movement are just as obsessive about their marijuana as they are about olive oil, wine or coffee.
“It’s like getting the best cheese,” Mr. Falcinelli said. “I have like four or five different types of marijuana in my refrigerator right now.”
The sensibility extends to the latest wave of coffee culture. Coffee geeks are as infatuated with their Pacas varietal beans from Central America as pot users are with their sticky sinsemilla from Humboldt County in California.
Duane Sorenson, the founder of the coffee roaster Stumptown, said that fat buds of marijuana often end up in the tip jar at his shops.
“It goes hand in hand with a cup of coffee,” he said. “It’s called wake and bake. Grab a cup of Joe and get on with it.”
Those are just some quick quotes from a long article. What do you think? Looking for a job at Stumptown? Scoring from food carts? I always thought the late night cart pod on SW 12th and Hawthorne was the ultimate stoner party.