Chef for Higher’s “Hawaii Mike” Salman began the “Dinner is Dope” series with his wife, Stephanie.
How did the Chef for Higher “Dinner is Dope” series get started? How many dinners do you host in a year, and where?
Chef for Higher began with our dream of creating a line of cannabis-infused edibles. We wanted a way to introduce what we do, so we came up with the idea of doing a monthly “Tupperware party” [sort of event], a hosted social gathering to showcase our products but presented in the style of a supper club. Our mission is to normalize the use of cannabis as an everyday essential, and we use food to communicate that.
It quickly took off. Our twenty-second consecutive monthly event in New York City was on February 26. We did dinners in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. in 2016 and will be going back to each in 2017, as well as to Denver, Boston, and Portland, among other places. We’re open to new spots; you just have to hit us up.
Walk us through a typical CFH dinner experience. What are some of your diners’ favorite dishes?
Each dinner consists of a five-course tasting menu and starts with a toast where we welcome everyone, give a brief history of cannabis and how it has been used in various cultures throughout time, and the plant’s history in the U.S. We use alcohol as our “gateway drug,” as it’s a familiar sensation and the immediate buzz helps to quell the anticipation of edibles to take effect. This really helps us with our less experienced attendees. After the second appetizer, we have a smoke break where guests get to relax into the effects, mingle, and interact with us. After the break, we serve the main course followed by dessert. The whole dinner service is about two and one-half hours long.
All of the dinners are themed, and all of the menus are composed of seasonal comfort food that reflects the theme. I would have to say Smac ’n’ Cheese Balls, Chick in Waffle, Twice Fried Wings, and my personal fave, Poke, were favorites in 2016. We’re working on a cookbook that will feature the recipes from our dinner series, so you’ll be able to do what we do for you and your friends at home.
What else is Chef for Higher up to? Where do you see your revenue streams deriving from?
Right now we’re doing well with the dinners, but they are really just a platform to share our perspective on cannabis, knowledge in infusing food, and building a community of informed consumers. We’re currently in the process of finding supply partners on the farming and extraction side so we can start producing the Chef for Higher line of cannabis-infused cooking essentials.
Do you see the cannabis dining experience evolving to include new types of experiences?
I see it having an infinite amount of options that are only limited by our imagination. Once we look at cannabis as another ingredient that we can infuse into recipes, not a Schedule 1 drug that has no history as a nutritional supplement, you will see a shift in how we incorporate it into not only dining but also hospitality and travel. We have been getting a lot of calls for our services around larger events like awards shows and music festivals. There will be lots of collaborations within the music, fashion, and entertainment spaces, since brands and labels are always looking for new experiences to create for media, influencers, and consumers.