Elevating Gastronomy With Jeff the 420 Chef – Episode 10
By Donna LoughlinJeff Danzer is neither a scientist nor a formally trained chef. For more than twenty years, he was a marketing executive in the New York City fashion industry. So how did he come to be one of the most important innovators in both the culinary and cannabis worlds?It pretty much happened by accident.While he was building a reputation as a marketing maven, he kept a secret hobby that he mostly indulged with friends behind closed doors — Jeff loved to cook and he loved to cook with cannabis.In fact, it was this dual passion that led him out of the boardroom and into the kitchen full-time. His life changed forever when he made his famous pot brownies for a relative who was suffering from terminal cancer. When Jeff assured him the brownies would help relieve his chronic pain, his relative took some. He told him he loved how they made him feel, but he hated how they tasted. Jeff took it as a personal challenge and he set out to learn everything he could about the science of cannabis. What was in it? Why did it taste the way it did? Could he remove the taste?His discovery was the beginning of a whole new era for both the food industry and the still-growing cannabis economy.He figured out a way to “wash” the cannabis before using it in cooking as part of a process that is still patent-pending. The process stripped the cannabis of any flavor or odor, making it nearly undetectable in food while still delivering all the desired effects of marijuana. He gave a batch of cupcakes that he made with this process to an acquaintance who suggested he contact a journalist who wrote for The Daily Beast. The writer tried the cupcakes and, within days, Jeff was a viral phenomenon dubbed “the Julia Child of Weed,” almost overnight his life changed.“It was kind of a blur from there,” Jeff told me.He closed down his marketing agency in New York and moved to Los Angeles to, as he puts it, “do what I do best.” Not long after arriving on the West Coast, chefs from all over the country started reaching out, asking him to teach them how to incorporate cannabis into their dishes. He began training several renowned chefs in exchange for basic cooking skills that he could apply to his own food.“All these chefs out there were teaching me different things, techniques and skills, that I now employ in what I'm doing, and ultimately I became an award-winning cannabis chef,” he said. “It's kind of interesting. With the right tools and the skills and if you know what you're doing in the kitchen you can do some great things.”These days he’s something of a mogul: He’s written a cookbook, built a calculator that allows both chefs and diners to measure the dose of THC in any homemade edible and still consults for chefs and other food entrepreneurs interested in developing cannabis products. He’s also developing a line of spices made with CBD and says his next goal is to become the McCormick & Company of marijuana and hemp.“It's no longer just throwing a bunch of weed into a brownie mix and hoping for the best,” Jeff says. “It's really creating great edibles, great food, and starting with a nice clean ingredient that doesn't taste like weed, that you can use to infuse your food accurately and literally create some amazing meals out of it.”To listen and subscribe to the Before IT Happened podcast, visit www.beforeithappened.com.