Art Food

EPICURATIVE: La Jolla personal chefs create CBD-infused gourmet meals

Forget hash brownies. The food prepared by La Jolla’s Tasty High Chef is gourmet. Tonight, for instance, the menu includes Paprika-Seared Tuna Poke in Cucumber Cups, Ricotta Crustini with Pear and Spiced Pecans and Pumpkin Spice Soup with Pepitas.

Chefs Claire Gilbert and Mosha — who doesn’t use her last name professionally — both La Jolla residents, prepare food to client specifications — either at their homes or, for larger gatherings, in a rented kitchen. Tonight, it’s for a dinner party at La Jolla’s Misfit Pictures Gallery.

Whereas hash brownies are all about the THC that get people high, CBD is about the cannabinoids that give them relief. Discovered in 1940, CBD is an extract of cannabis that activates the human body’s cannabinoid receptors, causing pain relief and feelings of relaxation without the high.

“Some of the side effects of my drugs give me nerve pain sometimes, and just general aches and that’s what it really helps with,” says La Jolla resident Martha Davis, who takes medication for a heart ailment and has Claire and Mosha over her house once a week to prepare CBD-infused salads, soups and granola.

“Their food is organic and delicious," Davis says, "and it makes me feel better."Tasty High’s clientele includes cancer patients, veterans and seniors who can’t get out of the house and find it difficult even to cook.

Claire adds 50 ml of Pure Spectrum CBD oil to each serving of the Ricotta Crustini.
Claire adds 50 ml of Pure Spectrum CBD oil to each serving of the Ricotta Crustini. COREY LEVITAN

“CBD can alleviate pain without the side effects,” Claire says. “I mean, what are the side effects? Better sleep, a positive attitude, increased hunger — these are not negative things. You look at opioids and the list of side effects is so vast, it’s frightening.” (Nearly 50,000 overdose deaths are caused by opioids every year in the U.S., while marijuana has never been linked to a single one.)

In her former career, Claire conducted addiction research at Scripps Research Institute, which she says is where she developed her passion for weaning people off addictive opioids. She says the hemp-derived medicine worked miracles on her grandmother, who took Hydrocodone for multi-level osteoarthritis in her back before making the switch.

Mosha was already working as a personal chef and event planner when she visited the garden maintained by Claire, her next-door neighbor, for fresh fruit and veggies in January.

“I always had a big passion for cooking, which my mom taught me,” says Mosha, whose family emigrated from Russia when she was 9.

The neighbors began talking about CBD oil when a thought occurred to them, Claire remembers: “What if you put CBD in the cream you have in your coffee? Sipping coffee throughout the day is something that people do already.”

A server offers Watermelon Fresca with Mint, which contains 10 mg CBD per cup.
A server offers Watermelon Fresca with Mint, which contains 10 mg CBD per cup. COREY LEVITAN

Claire handles the dosing, making sure the amount of CBD oil — supplied by La Jolla’s Pure Spectrum — is accurate to a science. At the Misfit party, she adds precisely 50 ml to each serving of the Ricotta Crustini.

“Don’t take too many of those,” a server warns Misfit Gallery co-owner Petra Kavanagh off the gummies. “They’re THC. Unless you want to.”

In addition to CBD, Tasty High is frequently hired to cook with THC extract and plain old marijuana. At the party, the servers explain exactly what, and how much, each dish contains as they walk it around on a tray. (The food already out on the tables is not infused.)

“We have medical patients who want to feel no pain, and that’s a different dose than five friends having a dinner party who just want to feel great,” Claire says. “It’s individualized to each customer and micro-dosed so that no one has a bad experience.”

Unbeknownst to Claire and Mosha, cooking with CBD had already become a thing since Colorado and Washington State legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, sparking dozens of instructional websites and YouTube channels.But Claire and Mosha are sure they’re the first chefs offering this personalized service in La Jolla.

“Between Claire’s knowledge of science and my love for food and event planning, it was natural,” Mosha says.

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