(Courtesy of Jaime Lewis)

Food & Weed: For chef Jaime Lewis, the sweet spot with edibles is the fresh mind-set

The allure of foodie fandom propelled Jaime Lewis’ early career as a professional chef in San Francisco, but a chance encounter inspired a new calling in medicinal cannabis edibles.

“I wanted to be a culinary rockstar,” she told The Cannabist over the phone. “I love cooking for people and providing something that I made with love, and putting together things that taste good and are layered with a lot of depth.”

This joy of sharing her creations and the healing aspects of cannabis grew when she met a man with wasting syndrome while working in a San Francisco kitchen in 2006. The illness zaps calories almost immediately, causing the afflicted person to suffer involuntary weight loss and muscle wasting. On top of that, the medicine this man had been taking severely dwindled his appetite.

That’s where Lewis came in. She decided to make him a pot of meatballs infused with cannabutter to help stimulate his gusto for eating again.

Chef Jaime Lewis, founder of Mountain Medicine edibles company. (Courtesy Jaime Lewis)

“He was very excited that he was consuming the food he wanted to eat, and he hadn’t had meatballs like that since his mother had made them,” Lewis recalled. “Not only was he eating, but it brought some nostalgia to the experience.”

While watching the man eat, Lewis was struck with how happy he seemed, something she attributed both to the food and the medicinal aspects of the marijuana. But even as she rejoiced in his replenished appetite, a bit of anger crept into her mind.

“That was the experience that triggered it for me,” she said, speaking about her move to make edibles. “Why would anyone try to deny someone that experience, when it doesn’t do any harm and it only adds benefit?”

From there, Lewis decided to use her cooking expertise and pair it with the healing potential of cannabis.

The entrepreneur left California for Colorado in 2009 to become the chief operating officer of a dispensary and to start her medical marijuana edibles company, Mountain Medicine.

Eventually she left that first job to concentrate on Mountain Medicine and its expansion in 2014. But, even as the business has grown, the idea of helping people through eating and partaking in cannabis has remained at the forefront of Lewis’ mission.

Because of her work and personal experience, Lewis is a big advocate for edibles, both for recreation and medicinal reasons.

She touts the checks and balances that go into regulated marijuana products and notes that if you stick to a brand and item you like, then the dosage remains reliable because of said rules.

Lewis herself has benefited from cannabis and she loves ingesting it in food form. In fact, she says most of her personal cooking is done lightly under the influence, something she relates to having a glass of wine — only without the fuzzy head later.

“The thing that cannabis does is it checks you out of thinking too much about what’s in the future and what happened in the past and allows you to focus on what’s in front of you,” she says, adding that her usual dosage is 5 milligrams THC so she can keep a steady, but not-too-heady high. “Sunday is a luxury for me and the only time I really can cook. It’s hard to text or be on the computer when you are in the kitchen.”

So, she puts on some jams, dances for her cat, nibbles on some weed-laced honey and whips up a special meal.

What might she cook?

“Well,” she says, “I love homemade pasta layered with a braised meat sauce like lamb with peas, rosemary and thyme. There are so many steps to creating this dish that it keeps me out of my head for a long time.”

Both the act of making the food and head space she gets into help this chef appreciate cooking and eating more. Creating meals has been, after all, a big part of her life since her early 20s. Marijuana is just another aspect of the process that she enjoys and is happy to incorporate into the goods.

“There’s something to say about making a meal from scratch and the connection to it that’s more than just flavors,” Lewis says. “It’s about fresh, living ingredients. Food is so important and we wouldn’t be here without it.”

As for the sick man in San Fransisco, Lewis was sad when he passed, but happy to have helped his well-being. He never got tired of eating her marijuana meatballs, she said.