Photos courtesy of Randy Placeres
Randy Placeres started making a name for himself as a chef in Aspen, Colorado around 1999. When he opened Aspen Culinary Solutions, a company that produces private and corporate cooking events, in 2004, that amped his career up a notch, eventually leading to offices in Honolulu, New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Placeres has also participated in the food festival circuit as well as orchestrating plenty of private dining events — many of which were cannabis-focused and exclusive.
MERRY JANE got with Placeres to talk about catering the 2007 ESPN Winter X-Games (no weed in that, sadly), the cookbook he’s working on, and how fun THC-infused wedding receptions can get. He also shared his insanely creative recipe or infused sushi — you’ll never look at chopsticks the same way after trying his Yellowtail Cannabis Crudo. Enjoy!
Yellowtail Cannabis Crudo
16 to 18 oz. sushi grade yellowtail or Japanese hamachi
2 to 4 oz. coconut ginger sativa oil (Recipe below. Depending on THC and tolerance levels, you may use less or more)
3 to 4 oz. Daikon-infused DopeSauce
1 cup watercress or arugula leaves
Coconut ginger sativa oil ingredients
2.5 cups organic coconut oil
1 ounce sativa flower, ground
1.5 oz. fresh ginger
Add all three components to heavy-based pot or infusion machine. Infuse over low heat for no less than 1.5 hours, though 2 to 3 is ideal. Strain flower and ginger. Store until ready to use.
Daikon-infused DopeSauce Ingredients
6 inches fresh daikon, roughly chopped
2 oz. peeled fresh ginger, roughly chopped
2 cups Japanese soy sauce (shoyu)
1 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons infused coconut oil
In a blender, add the wet ingredients then daikon and ginger. Blend on medium, adding olive oil slowly to emulsify. Finish with the infused coconut oil.
In a small pot, heat a small quantity of the coconut ginger sativa oil. Get it as close to a smoking point as possible without getting quite there.
When the oil is hot enough, pull off the flame and spoon over each piece of fish. Spoon DopeSauce over fish, too — only just enough to cover but not saturate.
Toss the watercress or arugula leaves in a bowl with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Place top on top and serve.
Chef Randy Placeres cooking a dank-ass infused dinner in Aspen, photo by @fillyoureyes
MERRY JANE: Aspen Culinary Solutions cater corporate events that range from "50 to thousands." Tell me about your largest dining event and how you tackled some of those challenges.
Randy Placeres: The largest event I have executed was the 2007 ESPN Winter X-Games. We served 16,000 meals in 10 days — breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This all was done in the parking lot at the base of Buttermilk Mountain. I have also worked major food festivals such as the Aspen Food and Wine Classic, [Food Network’s] South Beach Food and Wine Festival, and New York City Food & Wine Festivals, serving thousands of guests high-end food daily. None of these had cannabis-infused food — obviously — however, my chefs and I had daily "meetings" to decompress and asset project development.
I'm very interested in how a corporate dining event incorporates cannabis. How do some of those personal and professional relationships play out over a lifted dinner like that?
The co-operate relationships we have that include cannabis are becoming more and more frequent. I have been working with High Times magazine and The Green Table hosting dinners, bringing together business investors and cannabis entrepreneurs together in the same room. I have also been a part of dinners for NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). My friend Chef Chris Lanter, another pioneer in cannabis cuisine, has been cooking for NORML for years, and we recently collaborated on a cannabis dinner in June for the organization.
And weddings! Can we please talk about a weed-infused reception dinner? Sounds like a dream.
Weddings receptions that have weed-infused dishes are becoming more and more frequent here in Aspen. I think people visiting and hosting a wedding in Colorado embrace the unique aspect of being in a state that has legal and recreational cannabis. Appetizers that are infused are good way to introduce cannabis food. Giving out gift bags with joints and other goodies has been a part weddings and receptions. I have yet to do an entire cannabis menu for a wedding reception, but I'm sure it's coming soon!
Tell me a little about how you developed what you call “T.H.C.uisine.” What do people not understand about such dining experiences?
T.H.Cuisine is a movement that has elevated the edible game. For decades, people have been making brownies and cookies, but most people I have talked to have had a bad experience with brownies and cookies at some point in their lives. I battle this stigma all the time; this all has to do with proper dosing and knowing the THC levels in your butter, oils, and liquids. I do believe and have learned in the 90-plus dinners I've done that when you're consuming real proteins and real foods... your body metabolizes the cannabis differently and the "high" is different than eating a sugar-based edible.
This style of consumption is more of an elevated journey that takes you on a pleasant ride that comes and goes. Most of my friends who smoke weed everyday, all day, have told me that this high is so pleasant and different for them. T.H.Cuisine is also [a forthcoming] cannabis cookbook as well as a line of savory, infused products I have been developing here in Aspen for years. The line of DopeSauces will be introduced this year and the cookbook will accompany the sauces. I usually gift my clients sauces after we do a dinner. …
Why is it so fun to consume edibles in group settings?
I think it's fun to consume edibles or dining with a group of people because you all start off together eating appetizers like burrata and brie grilled cheese sandwiches seared with cannabis butter. Then in 15 to 20 minutes, you all start to feel the effects of the THC. By that time, we are usually into the first or second course of the dinner. The social aspect becomes the best part of the evening. Most cannabis consumers are open-minded and interesting people in general. The topics of conversation are always fun and light hearted — and that makes for a beautiful night.
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