“This is delicious, Roz Bielski says, dabbing her mouth with a napkin. “Like eating a cloud. This is the kind of food I’d picture eating in heaven.”
It is just after 10am on a sunny Sunday morning in Denver’s Highlands. Clusters of smart churchgoers saunter past the windows of the restaurant; an impossibly healthy-looking young couple follow, pedalling up the hill with yoga mats slung over their shoulders. Then the peace is cracked by a cackle. Roz, a wealthy 62-year-old from New York who looks at least 10 years younger, breaks down into girlish giggles as she passes a large slice of sponge tart to her twentysomething daughter, Rachel. “Look, darling, I’m your biggest flan,” she guffaws, bent double with laughter as crumbs fly from her mouth. “YOUR BIGGEST FLAN!”
It has been just over two years since the state of Colorado legalised cannabis use, and the two-and-a-half-hour cannabis cookery class I’m attending at an upscale eatery in Denver is booked out for weeks. Students such as Roz and Rachel fly in from all over the US to learn how to embrace the ultimate herb and how to cook with it.
Colorado has issued more than 350 edible marijuana licences, but those holding them – for both recreational and medicinal purposes – are light years ahead of the stereotyped stoners baking hash cakes. High-profile chefs have been drawn to the challenge, including Chris Lanter, owner and head chef of Cache Cache, the top restaurant in America’s glitziest ski resort, Aspen, and Hosea Rosenberg, who won Top Chef, a hit cooking show. The Ganja Kitchen Revolution, a gourmet cookbook by Coloradan chef Jessica Catalano, became an Amazon bestseller when the state first legalised marijuana, and is now the go-to book for aspiring cannabis chefs.