The Niagara Falls Culinary Institute is hosting the first cannabis cooking course ever to be offered by New York's state-funded college system.
The new class, which just began this spring, teaches students how to safely infuse THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids into delicious meals. The course's teacher, Chef Nathan Koscielski, demonstrates various means of cannabis extraction ranging from the simple use of dried flower to more complicated extracts like rosin. Students also learn best practices for picking the perfect strain of weed to pair with individual dishes.
"If I was going to do a limoncello tart, I teach the students that you want to use a citrus haze strain," Koscielski explained to NBC affiliate WGRZ. “Or if you're doing something strong and gamey like lamb with mustard and garlic, you want to do a sour diesel strain.”
The current course is purely lecture-based, however, so students that want to try their hand at infused dishes will have to do it on their own time. The primary goal of this course is to help students ace the American Culinary Federation’s (ACF) Specialization Certificate in Culinary Cannabis and Edibles exam. But this fall, the culinary school will offer its first lab course in culinary cannabis, which will give students actual experience in preparing cannabis extracts, concentrates, and infusions.
Students won't be able to get lit from eating their final projects, though. To comply with federal law, the new course will only allow students to cook with legal hemp containing less than 0.3% THC content. But as Koscielski points out in the course, cannabis cuisine isn't always about getting high AF. The natural terpenes present in the cannabis plant can provide unique flavor profiles, allowing chefs to infuse their dishes with flavors that are unfamiliar to people who don't smoke weed.
"That doesn't even necessarily mean that food cooked with cannabis is going to get you high,” said Miranda Sherman, a student in the class, to WGRZ. “In fact, you may just be adding garnishes for a more well-rounded flavor profile."
"I know in my lifetime I'm never going to have the opportunity to work with a brand new ingredient, and that's something that gets me so excited about, working with cannabis as a Chef," Koscielski added.
Students who pass with flying colors will surely have their pick of jobs in the growing field of cannabis cuisine. A growing number of pot-infused restaurants are popping up all across the US, especially now that more and more states have legalized medical and recreational weed. Celebrities like Wiz Khalifa are getting in on the pot eatery game, and cannabis cuisine is even becoming a serious tourist attraction in Thailand.
“I can't wait to see what happens in the next five years,” said Martin Danilowicz, who runs the weed-friendly Roost restaurant in Buffalo, to WGRZ. “I think it's a really beautiful thing that we've come this far…It's an herb, you know. Rosemary thyme marijuana, it's all good."