One Ingredient Short: Boise Hempfest Chef to Demonstrate Cooking With(out) Cannabis 

click to enlarge Chef Sebastian Carosi will travel to Boise from Washington to cook for Boise Hempfest.

Courtesy Boise Hempfest / Chef Sebastian Carosi

Chef Sebastian Carosi will travel to Boise from Washington to cook for Boise Hempfest.

If he could, Washington-based Chef Sebastian Carosi would use real cannabis in the cooking demonstrations he has planned for Boise Hempfest, which will fill Julia Davis Park on Saturday, April 20, from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. But unfortunately for his recipes, Idaho is still a pot-free zone.

“When I use the botanical extractor I’m going to put like, rosemary in it, and let them know that the rosemary is usually changed out for cannabis leaf," he said.

Carosi has been cooking with cannabis since the 1990s, but he started consuming it earlier, a decision that changed the course of his life. Starting when he was 17, he served a five-year sentence in the Washington State Penitentiary after being caught with 45 pounds of cannabis. Since then, he said, much of the stigma against the plant has lifted, and he's able to use it freely in his cooking in states like Washington and Oregon, where recreational consumption is legal. As a farm-to-table chef, Carosi advocates using cannabis like any other herb or spice: in its unprocessed form. He called cannabis derivatives "snake oil," and said he wants to introduce attendees of Boise Hempfest to a new world of cannabis cooking that goes beyond the stereotypical brownies and emphasizes healthy ingredients.

  • Courtesy Boise Hempfest
"We legalized cannabis in legal states under the auspice of medicine, and yet you walk into a pot shop and all you see is candy. And that is just disappointing for a chef," he said. He called those desserts "entry-level" edibles, and said that even though he still makes them, he prefers pushing boundaries into entrees and drinks, and always emphasizes fresh, sustainable ingredients.

At Hempfest, Carosi will put out an impressive menu over the course of the day, including green tea white chocolates, Hopi blue-corn and "hemp nut" waffles with ponderosa pine syrup, salads with either smoky buttermilk ranch or lemonade vinaigrette, a wild nettle and mushroom udon bowl with chili paste, and two drinks: a Sawtooth spritzer and wild huckleberry lemonade. But the food won't be eaten by anyone. Carosi said that in the spirit of caution, the state health department has barred him from handing out samples. Still, he plans to bring non-cannabis-derived, plant-based terpenes, what calls the "fragrant, medicinal and mystical compounds" that give plants their scent, with him for attendees to view and smell. The dictionary definition of terpenes is "any of a large group of volatile unsaturated hydrocarbons found in the essential oils of plants." He'll also use them to "fortify" a few of the ingredients in his dishes.

Carosi said that in his food, he strives to compliment or supplement cannabis' terpene profiles with other ingredients.

“I just exploit isolated terpenes that are in the dish. Let’s say, green tea has some beta-[caryophyllene] in it, and it has myrcene in it—mangoes have myrcene in them. If a dish starts off like that, I either compliment or contrast with [the terpenes in cannabis]," he said.

Though Carosi makes cooking sounds more like science than art, for him, it's really about adventure.

“I chose the culinary field because of the lack of limitations, you know?" he said. "There are 3,000 species of fish that we haven’t even eaten yet. So each day was going to be a challenge for me, it was going to be exciting, and that’s what it [has been] for my entire career."

His demonstrations will take place at Julia Davis park throughout the day. Click here for a full schedule.
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