By Eleanor Alberg | Updated April 2, 2021
Edibles have been growing in popularity in the last few years partially due to the growing interest and acceptance of cannabis both medicinally and recreationally. Many people are turning to edibles as a way to get the benefits of cannabis without the smoke. The business of edibles is booming, and the chefs helping bring it to the table are here for it.
The Coolest DJ On Edibles — DJ Chef Fred
“All the edibles you can get now, don’t really reflect my edibles,” DJ Chef Fred said cooly. The thing is, he’s right. Since starting his career, Frederick Nesbitt III, known as DJ Chef Fred, has been dedicated to finding healing through food and cannabis.
Chef Fred began his career in edibles with the help of Dennis Paron, an early advocate for gay rights in San Francisco circa 1995 and during his time working for a program founded by Mary Jane Rathbun, also known as “Brownie Mary.” Brownie Mary baked cannabis brownies for cancer and AIDS patients. Rathbun would bake up to 600 brownies a day.
Chef Fred credits this experience and these people for opening his eyes to the compassionate side of cannabis. Seeing the brownies and what they did for the sick patients, how it helped them eat, drink, sleep, was his first look at the plant and the good it can do for people.
After this experience, he went to culinary school in San Francisco in 2001. Out the gate he began working with some high profile clients, including Alex Banos, owner of the San Diego Chargers.
In 2009, his kids’ nanny was diagnosed with cancer. Chef Fred began dabbling in making edibles at home to help her with her treatment.
“She wasn’t a huge fan of the sugary edibles because she was diabetic,” he explained. “So I infused chicken stock and she loved it. It helped her immensely.”
He began regularly making infused bouillon cubes for her to add to her food at home. Determined to help her, he continued to experiment with different edibles he could make at home. Her struggle with cancer drove his desire to help her and more people. The compassion side of cannabis, he shared, changed him.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Chef Fred
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Chef Fred
At this point, his work, he added, was not motivated by money, but heart.
Eventually, he opened a small company called Cannabiscatering.com. He posted his company in an ad on Craigslist and it went viral. He didn’t know if he was gonna get in trouble but he began hosting events and barbecues.
Plans were put in place to open a restaurant in the hopes that the legalization would pass in California around 2010. He had a restaurant picked out but much to his disappointment, it didn’t pass so he had to pull out all the deposits and he went back to making food — somewhat underground.
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With cannabis legalization in 2016, he said the quality and regulation has significantly improved the edibles one can produce. For him, he added, it is mainly about equity, the community and trying to help everyone through his work.
By 2018, Chef Fred helped draft a medical cannabis act in the Carribean and has since worked as consultant to Acres Agriculture. Acre Agriculture is a 106 acre farm in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines with a retreat. There he collected 20 samples of local traditional grown cannabis and tested for potency. His research and reports transformed into the 2018 Medical Cannabis and Plant Based Medicines Act, were reviewed by the Grenadines ministry and prime minister.
Its focus is on psilocybin and cannabinoids to treat different health conditions and other alternative health-medicines that don’t yet exist. It is unique and only possible because of the federal protections he helped push.
When Chef Fred started working in the cannabis edibles industry in 1995 there was no refinement of the cannabinoids. The closest thing that you could get other than hash was RSO (rick simpson oil) or feco oil (full plant extract, made with ethanol), things that you normally wouldn’t want to be eating.
Now the extracts are more refined, it used to taste really bad because they used the whole fats, the terpenes, all the different flavonoids that go with the extract of the entire flower. As the extraction process advanced through distillation and cryogenic freezing, fats, lipids, and different cannabinoids were able to be extracted through fractional distillation. Now we are able to get pure oil that’s 98 percent potency with no flavoring. As a result, edibles have become stronger with no added flavor.
Now he works mainly on the management side of his company, doing less of the actual cooking. He has plans to launch a television network with around 10 different channels dedicated to all things cannabis, including a cannabis cooking competition.
He credits Emery Morrison, cofounder of CampNova, for giving him an opportunity to put some of his video snippets onto a Sprint channel Morrison was curating and developing, which also led to his television debut.
Discovering Cannabis One Edible At A Time
Annie Trimber grew up in the DC area, went to college in Chicago, and then made her way to OC California through various jobs. She became somewhat familiar with cannabis in college but “My relationship with cannabis was really able to blossom more once I moved [to California],” she said.
According to Trimber, “It’s fun to be a part of a community [in California] that recognizes the medical and other benefits that cannabis can have on your life.”
Trimber grew up in a household that was much more conservative on the views held about marijuana, but has discovered the edibles she makes are “a really fun way to bridge communities and open the eyes of some that might not have been open to it before,” she shared.
She began writing recipes with her own blog called Bacon Princess. In college she continued writing recipes for her school paper Spoon University. Her love of food and cooking translated well to her love of cannabis.
“Food is a really easy way to get people into cannabis,” Trimber said. “that might not have been into it before, they’re not smoking, so some people might feel comfortable that way.”
As far as her professional edible making life, she worked for Foodbeast for a time and was able to build relationships with some of the cannabis clients there that ultimately led to some future partnerships with various brands. She made connections with early-on cannabis brands including Kiva, which was one of the first brands to send her product to make food with.
To her, making edibles is a form of creativity. “I think the biggest question to people is — ‘I know I can just smoke this straight but what else can I do with it?’ people are looking to tap into their creativity,” Trimber said, “It has become a vehicle for people to get really creative and have fun with cannabis.”
Cooking helps relieve her stress and that of many, and cannabis can be seen as a continuation of this practice. “Cannabis,” Trimber said, “has always been a way to escape the day, ground myself, and really focus my efforts inwards.”
In her eyes, cooking with cannabis is a natural way to connect people to the benefits that cannabis can offer in a more comfortable format. The stigma around cannabis is something she hopes decreases over time. It takes “just a little bit of scientific research to recognize that [marijuana] has so many benefits to it” she stresses.
There is a growing popularity for CBD products, too. Trimber, however, said she hopes this same energy can be given to THC, as the compound effect of both can have much stronger medicinal aids. “I will always advocate for the full plant,” She says, “because I’ve done research on that and know that it can be more beneficial” than just isolated CBD. She hopes that people continue to recognize the benefits that cannabis can offer as opposed to a passing phase.
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Making Edibles at Home
After meeting with the professionals, I was tasked to make edibles. This project was my first time making edibles myself. In the past friends of mine made them and we enjoyed them together. The biggest challenge I faced when eating homemade edibles is they tend to be far too strong for me, so I’m wary of eating them.
When I decided to try making them myself I knew I wanted to be more mindful of how strong I made them so that anyone could enjoy them without the fear of getting too high. I also opted to follow a recipe book that a family member had given me on making edibles so I could be sure I was portioning ingredients correctly.
I have always been an avid baker and cook; I found that making these edibles was very therapeutic. All of my friends were super excited to try them and I knew it would be a great way to connect with them during the pandemic as well. The great thing about edibles is that they are easy to share. I made a full batch of brownies so there was plenty to go around.
I can see how edibles are a great way to bring people together and get people excited about cannabis in a way they may not be otherwise. It was such a fun experience and definitely something I’d recommend anyone who’s interested in cannabis try doing.
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