ACF Chef Nathan Koscielski on Cooking with Cannabis

ACF Chef Nathan Koscielski, CCE, a culinary instructor at Niagara Falls Culinary Institute at Niagara County Community College in New York, first learned about culinary cannabis when some of his former students, who are now chefs on the West Coast, mentioned that the restaurants they work for have incorporated cannabis into their menus. Chef Koscielski became so intrigued that he wanted to learn everything he could about cooking with cannabis, and when ACF began offering a culinary cannabis certification, he jumped at the chance to earn it.

image-2 copyNow Chef Koscielski passes his culinary cannabis knowledge on to his students, as well as experienced chefs. He recently gave a presentation about this exciting new frontier of culinary arts during the “ChefsForum: Spotlight on Culinary Cannabis” webinar. We spoke to Chef Koscielski about culinary cannabis and why chefs should consider exploring how it can be used in the kitchen.

Q: What kinds of dishes can chefs incorporate cannabis into?

A: I would incorporate cannabis into a plethora of dishes. It’s such a magical ingredient. What I immediately would do is incorporate cannabis into dishes for anyone that needs cannabis for medicinal purposes. Chefs should not say cannabis will cure any disease or anything like that, but we can say, based on science and biology, it may help with X, Y, and Z conditions. So I would first and foremost always infuse food with cannabis for medicinal purposes, because that’s the true power of cannabis. I also would infuse food with cannabis if people are looking for that psychoactive experience one evening where instead of consuming alcohol, they want to consume cannabis. I don’t think a diner serving a whole bunch of THC-infused breakfast foods before everyone’s going to work for the day is the best idea, but in a club or a nice atmosphere on a Friday or Saturday night, I think that’s a wonderful experience.

Q: What makes culinary cannabis so exciting for chefs?

A: If I was a chef 100 or 200 years ago, I would have always come across new ingredients and it would have kept me excited. But today, we’re in such a global market, all chefs have worked with all ingredients on the planet. This is the only ingredient in our lifetime that we get to work with for the first time. We’re on the frontier of a new food and beverage ingredient. It’s not going to happen again in our lifetime. I try to tell chefs, no matter your personal beliefs on it, if it’s legal in your state, you’re talking about a source of revenue. You should think about it from a financial standpoint, you should think about it from the medicinal standpoint, and you should think about it from the excitement standpoint where you get to experience new flavors for the first time. We’ve tasted most flavors as chefs, but cannabis is new, and this is exciting.

Q: Why should chefs earn ACF’s culinary cannabis certification?

A: It’s our job as chefs to cook delicious, healthy food. I think this certification teaches people how to safely work with culinary cannabis. To properly dose people, you have to take a course like this, or you’re not going to dose people properly. You can’t taste a level of THC. Imagine not being able to taste how strong Everclear liquor was compared to a wine cooler. People would get way too drunk, too quickly. It’s the same thing with cannabis. We don’t want people to overdose.

To learn more about culinary cannabis, watch the “ChefsForum: Spotlight on Culinary Cannabis” webinar on ACF’s website and click here for more information on ACF’s cannabis certification.