Chefs Using Marijuana Create a New Kitchen Culture


By "Radical" Russ Belville

(NY Times) [Christina Tosi, the pastry chef of David Chang’s empire,] defines haute stoner cuisine as the kind of food that tastes good in the altered state marijuana brings.

“You like to eat stuff with texture and that is really deep in flavors,” said Ms. Tosi, who acknowledged the stoner appeal of her creations. “You want the ultimate sensory experience.”

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.

If you are still skeptical, check out a Web-based show called "Munchies”  (, which follows chefs as they party and eat late into the night, then head back to their kitchens to cook. Billows of smoke and doobie references abound. Although the show can be cagey about who is doing the smoking, featured chefs have included the men from Animal, Mr. Chang and the Franks — Mr. Falcinelli and Mr. Castronovo.

I grew up with my parents managing restaurants and I’ve worked most every restaurant job.  Those jobs are some of the most high-stress, high-activity jobs in the workforce.  If we could truly create drug-free workplaces, there would be very few restaurants left.


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