Photos courtesy of Sevan Abdessian and The Gathering
Chef Sevan Abdessian partnered up with Kris Morningstar to create a five-course dinner series in Los Angeles. The series, called The Gathering, stemmed from Abdessian's wife's cancer diagnosis, catalyzed when California's Proposition 64 passed. Unlike many other cannabis-infused dining events, The Gathering pays special attention to wines to be served alongside the magical food — to further augment the meal, Abdessian says.
MERRY JANE got with Abdessian to discuss how Middle Eastern flavors lend themselves to marijuana, what people get wrong about edibles, and the future of The Gathering.
Aleppo Pepper-Crusted Hamachi With Pot Ponzu
1 sushi grade hamachi
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 aleppo pepper
1 ponzu with a drop of cannabis oil
1 marijuana, finely chopped
1 garden citrus supremes
Salt, to taste
Pat fish portions dry with paper towel. Rub sesame oil all over fish and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Sprinkle aleppo pepper and finely chopped marijuana on all sides of the fish
Heat a large nonstick pan on medium heat. Add fish portions to the pan and cook each side for one minute. For best flavor, the fish must be rare to medium rare.
Transfer to plate and drizzle ponzu and add jalapenos, garden citrus supremes, and micro greens.
A menu from a semi-recent event by The Gathering, image via
MERRY JANE: Tell me about how The Gathering developed. What was your culinary experience like before then?
Sevan Abdessian: The Gathering was a long-standing idea I've had about a nice meal with friends using cannabis. Last fall, the topic of cannabis use was constant in our house when my wife was diagnosed with cancer. Then when Proposition 64 passed in California I thought it was finally time to start planning it.
A lot of chefs who use marijuana in their work tell me they don't like to mix infused food with alcohol. Y'all pair dinners with wine, though. How does that pairing process work? Why does wine and weed go so well together?
I believe a good glass of wine enhances a meal. It's the same with cannabis. The point of the cannabis is to enhance the whole experience. It's not about getting high but to have a full sensory experience.
What do you think people get wrong about edibles and cannabis culture at large? How are both evolving with sweeping legalization?
I don't believe that there's anything wrong about edibles. It's just that people not familiar with the effects of cannabis don't realize that it's processed differently in our bodies. I think edibles are an important part of cannabis culture because it's the only way many people can ingest it, thus making accessible to a wider audience.
Tell me a little about the dish you're sharing with us today. Any wine pairings you'd recommend?
Our last dinner had a Middle Eastern theme to it, meaning that a lot of ingredients and spices or the combination of the two that was uniquely Middle Eastern. We extended that theme to our wine pairings where we used a variety of Lebanese wines to match each course. My particular favorite is Wardy Clos Blanc, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon which would pair well with the aleppo pepper crusted seared hamachi, jalapenos, garden citrus supremes, micro greens, and pot ponzu.
What next for The Gathering?
This is a fun project for me and I want it to stay that way. No stress, no pressure, with the perfect location and perfect menu. It's purely creative. It's also why I invite a guest chef to cook with me and why we eat communally with everyone seated at the same table making new friends. Isn't that the spirit of cannabis?
Follow Beca Grimm on Twitter