By Sheldon Smith
With fall upon us, it’s high time to indulge in some comfort food and an award-winning chef in Calgary, Alta., has designed some cannabis-infused recipes to warm us up on those chilly days.
Calgary-based Red Seal Chef John Micheal MacNeil has been cooking for over 20 years, first by educating himself at the Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown, P.E.I. before making his way west.
MacNeil’s extensive background and travels have seen him cooking at Banff National Park’s Buffalo Mountain Lodge, the Belvedere in Calgary, and also taking his talents to Switzerland, before settling back in Calgary and beginning to focus on cooking with cannabis.
“I made my culinary mark with Teatro as I was there for 10 years before opening The Black Pig. When legalization came down the line and more information was available, I started to explore the cannabis world more,” MacNeil said in an interview.
MacNeil has always been interested in cannabis.
“I’d come home and have a smoke or a vape and enjoy my evening and how it made me feel.”
MacNeil also has his Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR).
During his time with Teatro, he did a lot of molecular gastronomy and using different textures to transform food. He found cannabis interesting because of its scientific approach and process. From the terpene oils in respective plants and their properties, there was a whole new world for MacNeil to delve into.
His first real exploration into cannabis and cooking was with reTreat Edibles, which are ready-made baking mixes to be infused with cannabis oil or concentrated oil from LPs so people can make their own edibles at home.
“It’s a high-end Betty Crocker mix,.”
The mixes were developed to be gluten free, non-GMO, vegan and non-dairy to hit all marks for people.
When edibles were initially pushed back a year after legalization, reTreat hit a speedbump and was temporarily put on hold.
MacNeil was picked up by the team at Zenabis and Namaste in Vancouver to be their corporate chef to help with their edibles program, recipe writing for their blog, and writing a cookbook: Cannabis Cooking with Chef John Michael MacNeil.
“The book is 20 of my favourite recipes. There are recipes for roasted cannabis, tips and tricks for infusing, how to make cannabutter, and easy-to-make recipes with blends of savoury and sweet.”
With Thanksgiving around the corner, MacNeil is looking at making a roasted duck breast with a chestnut grand malade and pan-fried gnocchi with honey and lime on the breast and mixed with cannabis-infused olive oil.
He also shared a few of his favourite fall recipes.
“Garden parsnip velouté, apple confit, parsley and fresh chili flakes, foraged Alberta mushroom (Morel, Red Cap & Sweet Tooth) cannelloni, parmesan, full fat mozzarella, and mushroom & tarragon gravy.”