Chef Tom Coohill doesn't drug test his employees because if he did, "I wouldn’t have any employees – including myself." (Via Coohills)

Denver chef Tom Coohill talks pot in workplace, rock club, bedroom

Cannabist: Have you had any issues with pot in your dining room — people coming in blazed out of their minds or lighting up where they shouldn’t?

Coohill: I haven’t heard or seen any backlash locally. Nobody has come up to me saying, ‘Oh my god, what are we going to do with the pot thing?’ Not one person has come in here and smoked a joint. Maybe somebody’s vaped, but I haven’t heard about it. I haven’t had a bunch of zombie stoners causing trouble.

Cannabist: What about your employees — how many of them do you have, and do you drug test?

Coohill: Ha. I have 45-50 employees, and we don’t drug test. I wouldn’t have any employees — including myself — if I did.

Cannabist: So there’s an unspoken agreement between you and those who work for you.

Coohill: Yes. We don’t want you to be visibly stoned at work. Is it possible that somebody could come in here high and I don’t know it? Yeah, maybe they’re functioning. But we don’t want your job performance to be affected by anything you’ve done — drinking or smoking.

Cannabist: And you haven’t had any problems with employees coming in stoned?

Coohill: No problems with pot, but we’ve had a couple employees come in drunk — and we terminated them. I don’t come in drunk or stoned, so nobody else can.

Cannabist: What about your kids — how old are they, and what are your feelings about them ingesting pot or not.

Coohill: They’re 18, 22 and 26, and my wife and I know they’re going to experiment. At that age, they’ve already experimented. To me, it doesn’t matter if they drink or smoke, but they have to get good grades and do something with their life. If you’re not going to do well in school, you have to pay for your school on your own. Its their choice: They can pay for their college, or we can pay for it.

Cannabist: And you and your wife talk about all this openly with your children?

Coohill: We do and we try to preach a little bit of moderation. Our kids have smoked pot and drank, and we know that and we’ve talked to them about it. We tell them it’s ok and keep it moderate. If you’re more open with your kids like that, then they’re not running around the neighborhood finding hiding places to do all this stuff. I’ve had beers with my kids. And I’ve tried some pot with my younger son.

Cannabist: Have you had any diners come in who talked openly about being in Colorado and trying the local crop?

Coohill: We’ve had some people in — and it’s funny. The stereoptypes of people who smoke pot aren’t true. We’ve had businesspeople in from out of town and couples vacationing in Denver and they say, ‘It’s so much fun here — we’re skiing and smoking some pot and eating here.’ And they have fun with it — ‘Is there any pot in the food?’ A lot of people do come out and say, ‘I’m from Georgia, and we’re here for a week, and we’re going to smoke a little pot — almost like Amsterdam.’ They’re having a good time with it.

Cannabist: And what about your boys Rush? How does smoking pot improve your experience while listening to their music?

Coohill: In Geddy Lee’s basslines, there are a lot of fills that are really fast. If you’re listening to it, you have to listen to it really carefully to hear all the notes he’s hitting. A lot of people say Rush is locked in, but it can go over people’s heads. They don’t get the groove, because it’s a totally different groove. When you’re in it, it’s like a beautiful math equation, listening to these things all come together in one piece. You hear all these different textures and tones and notes.

Cannabist: Tell me about one Rush song in particular that benefits from an altered state.

Coohill: If you’re listening to ‘La Villa Strangiato,’ it’s a real jazz-focused instrumental, and it’s got multiple parts. It’s a 12-minute song, no lyrics and they’re just playing. You hear musicians talking about that song, and they’re talking about how they were influenced by that song and the solos. Listening to it — it’s much easier to understand it when you’re high. It’s like, ‘Holy shit, I get it.’ But now that I’ve heard it while high, I can understand it when I’m not high.

Cannabist: Would you ever consider going out for a nice dinner while you’re high?

Coohill: I think it’d be fun. What’s the difference between that and a cigar dinner? The difference is cigar is a filthy, heavy smoke — what good does it do? It’s not going to enhance your experience of eating like the pot would.

Cannabist: So where would you go to eat — or what chef’s food would get you excited?

Coohill: Maybe Frasca in Boulder. There are a lot of really good chefs in town. If we were staying in Denver I would probably try Tag or maybe Rioja.

Cannabist: What else, other than music, is great while stoned?

Coohill: Sex is way better stoned. My wife doesn’t like smoking it, but she might do an edible.

Cannabist: So you’re a better lover when you’re high?

Coohill: Definitely. It provides a heightened sense of … I don’t know, but it is really good to me. Or at least I think I’m better in bed while stoned — you might have to ask my wife.