On moving into "cannabistronomy"
If someone had told 17-year old Ted that this is what he would be doing – getting to marry culinary with cannabis – he wouldn’t have believed them. I’ve been cooking in Toronto for more than 20 years now and I take my moves very seriously. I was at the ROM for six years, then the Drake for over seven, so the timing just felt right because of the people who were involved. We don’t have it all figured out yet, but I’m always up for a challenge. As director of culinary at byMINISTRY, my personal mission statement is to create elevated experiences for people. Years ago, cannabis would have been smoked in a back alley. Now it’s legal and I don’t want to do that any more.
"I want a positive experience not a dice roll"
On secret supper clubs
We’re looking to position byMINISTRY as a leader in the field. Our goal is to have trained staff in the same way you would have sommeliers, to really help curate your experience. People who have experienced cannabis, and edibles in particular, think they’re going to eat a brownie or cookie and “God knows what will happen to me.” That’s not the experience that I’m looking for. I’m looking to go to a nice restaurant and have a three- or four-course meal, like with alcohol, with pairings and flavours that work together. I want to feel that it was a positive experience rather than a roll of the dice. Right now, we’re launching our secret supper clubs (the Enlightened Dining Club), which are micro-dosed, five-course meals. We’re not selling cannabis, we’re selling the experience.
On cannabis flavour profiles
They’re very subtle flavours so I don’t know if it’s going to change our palates, but my goal is to make it feel more normal for people. We want cannabis to pair nicely with the food so it’s balanced and well-rounded in flavour, and if you’re having it with a mushroom dish you’re going to taste the notes of the mushroom. On top, there might be beurre noisette and a cured egg yolk, which just happens to have cannabis in it. It’s not about the cannabis being at the front of the flavour profile, it’s about having a really beautiful dish that happens to have 2 mg of THC in it.
On the future of edibles and fine dining
The idea of making infused pantry items – sugar, flour, salt – opens everything up because you can do anything when you have those foundational ingredients. You can create a very rustic meal or a ten-course tasting menu. We’re not there right now, but as the technology changes and these items become available, cannabis becomes another ingredient I can layer into my cooking. From a flavour, wellness and even a psychoactive perspective, it’s just another ingredient.
On cannabis restaurants
Bars became a thing because we’re allowed to sell alcohol, and now that we can sell cannabis, people want a space for it. Across different spaces, some might want a refined or casual experience and the restaurant will be able to provide that. Right now, cannabis and alcohol cannot be in the same space, but we’ll figure that out and there should be the option to opt in or out. I hope that’s where we get to. I want you to walk into a cannabis restaurant and get the exact same level of service, design and food quality.