There's nothing like great BBQ so to celebrate one of our favorite cuisines we talked to Award-Winning Executive Chef & BBQ master Chef Matt aka Matthew Stockard about the dos and don'ts of cooking with cannabis, and picked up some recs for strains and products to pair with your next canna-friendly BBQ.
Chef Matt is not a "cannabis chef."
"At the point you call yourself a 'cannabis chef,' you don't have a real resume." The award-winning chef told Weedmaps, "so I don't use the term. I tell people I'm a chef that cooks with cannabis."
And it's out of respect for the cannabis plant, as well as his own well-earned bona fides, that Chef Matt makes this distinction. It's a critical mindset to have for someone who incorporates cannabis into their trade with the care and precision that he does.
"I don't want to get you high for no reason," he clarified. "I want to get you high and solve a problem."
Born and raised in Long Beach, California, the ACF-certified executive Chef Matthew Stockard started his career in 1998 with his first restaurant in Oklahoma. He then studied the culinary arts and worked around the world, returning to Long Beach to start a BBQ restaurant in 2010. He's also run several 5-star institutions for the Hyatt Regency, including Japanese, Teppanyaki, Italian, and even its Vegas-style buffet restaurants.
Today, in addition to catering high-profile dining events and headlining cannabis expo panels (he'll be headlining the Cannabis Food Expo in San Francisco and Chicago in November), Chef Matt offers cannabis-infused products, virtual classes, and in-person events that encourage cooking enthusiasts to try new things and get comfortable with cannabis-infused ingredients. You'll also find no shortage of dank BBQ, Cajun, and other sizzling dishes on his Instagram.
Chef Matt's aim is always to inspire and empower communities to make cannabis part of a balanced, wellness-promoting lifestyle. And his approach is decidedly holistic and rooted in a deep, hard-earned knowledge of the cannabis plant. For Chef Matt, the key to infused BBQ, or any other type of cannabis cooking, is knowing which strains offer terpene and effect profiles that not only stimulate appetite and increase energy but target specific ailments and individual needs.
"If you get high [when you eat my food], that's great," he reiterated, "but getting somebody high doesn't always solve their issues."
Even among his most loyal high-profile and celebrity clients, it can be a challenge to get people to realize that the effects of a carefully prepared, infused meal will differ significantly from poor experiences they may have had with distillate-infused, high-powered edibles.
"I hate that we fall under the edible category. I feel that edibles have a bad name," he said. "Most of my time is convincing people that I'm not gonna get 'em fucked up. You go places, people are scared of edibles. All my time is convincing people I know what the fuck is going into my products. I know exactly how it's gonna make you feel."
He continued, "For instance, Snoop [Dogg], one of my clients, would hire me to do something and he would never eat. I would have to make his stuff separate because he just didn't like edibles. He didn't like the way they made him feel."
It took Chef Matt a year to convince Snoop to try a cannabis-infused meal, reiterating that he would be able to describe the precise effect of one of his meals. "When Snoop finally tried it, he came back an hour later and said, 'I feel exactly like how you told me I was gonna feel. I'm not fuckin with nobody else but you.'"
Many chefs who cook with cannabis make their own infused butters and oils, and, as Chef Matt has observed, don't pay thorough attention to the chemical makeup of the strain they're cooking with.
"A lot of people are guessing … I got a lot more science behind the shit I'm doing than just throwing some random shit in a machine and letting it go. I'm not guessing, and I'm trying to get people to take guessing out of it."
Part of that work involves getting other chefs to buy lab-tested, full-spectrum cannabis products from a licensed dispensary to cook with. Chef Matt also continues to develop his own THC, CBD, and hemp-based products that deliver on his standards of specificity and holistic quality.
"My goal is to take the edible market further than brownies, rice krispy treats, and cookies." he said. "I'm trying to get the world to understand that you can eat cannabis for breakfast, lunch, and dinner."
For the near future, Chef Matt hopes to build a brand of infused cooking products that are available in every state. He's the type of culinary personality you'd hope to see dominate the cannabis space, fostering greater community-focused education and a deeper communal understanding of the plant at its center.
Chef Matt's favorite strains for cooking
Chef Matt maintains a close relationship with Jack Herer Brands, sharing a love for the plant and an appreciation for old school genetics with brand founder Dan Herer (son of Jack).
“I met Dan by chance,” he shared, “and when I found out what he did, I gave him a rundown of all the [Jack Herer] strains and what they do, and he said, 'finally somebody appreciates everything my Dad did.' And he gives me access to stuff that a normal person doesn't ask for, and he feels like I get it.”
The original Jack Herer strain offers just about everything Chef Matt likes to include in an infused meal, especially when feeding people with ailments that require appetite stimulation.
I have some cancer patients that just aren't hungry and need to gain weight. Me just giving 'em something to get them high, yeah it numbs them, but it doesn't help them get hungry. So I have to find a terpene profile that's gonna make them hungry so when they eat a little bit, they're gonna wanna eat again in two hours, and then they're gonna get higher, then they're gonna wanna eat again. I have to get their metabolism going.
Platinum Jack is a particularly high-energy strain that stimulates appetite with a combination of physically invigorating effects and terpenes like myrcene and caryophyllene.
The Platinum Jack has a high energy. Say I have a cancer patient and they're tired, they don't really have any energy, they don't have any appetite. I usually would give them something like the Platinum Jack because it doesn't make you sleepy or tired. It makes you want to get up and move around, gets your mind going. And when you're moving around more, that's kind of creating an appetite for you.
Chef Matt cooks a lot with Jack Skellington, a chill sativa-leaning hybrid rich in myrcene with a relaxing, creative high that's great for clients who suffer from stress and anxiety.
Say I have somebody that suffers from PTSD or stress. Me giving them what I gave the cancer patient doesn't help. Each terpene profile has to be catered to that particular ailment. If somebody's suffering from depression or PTSD, they need one kind of terpene profile. If somebody has back pain, that's another terpene profile. You have to know your customer or make a variety of profiles so it works for everybody.
Other strains for your next canna-friendly BBQ
Whether you're infusing your BBQ with cannabis or pairing it with a smoke, here are some other strains that offer similar terpene and effect profiles to Chef Matt's favorites.
Lavender Kush is a strain known for appetite stimulation and has relaxing effects for anxiety and stress relief. It's also rich in the hunger-inducing terpene beta-caryophyllene. “In the evening, you don't want to smoke something that's going to turn your creativity on,” said Chef Matt of appetite-inducing nighttime strains. “What you smoke in the morning and what you smoke at night should be two different things.”
Amnesia Haze has a THC content around 20% with small amounts of CBD. It's also rich in the terpenes beta-caryophyllene and linalool, both potential appetite stimulants. It's also known to deliver the type of energy that gets one properly invigorated for a big meal.
GSC (formerly known as Girl Scout Cookies) is a high-energy, mood-boosting, and widely available strain containing a wealth of appetite-inducing terpenes. Be forewarned, however, the THC content on this one is usually higher than Chef Matt's recommended dose.
“When somebody's trying to relax, I wouldn't give them anything over 18%,” he told us. “If you're not terminally sick, you don't need anything over 20%.”
Bearing this advice in mind, exercise caution when barbecuing with GSC or smoking it in tandem with a meal, and seek out GSC flower from a brand you trust to deliver terpene-rich bud, with THC content as close as possible to 20% or lower.
Some of these companies are so focused on THC content that they forget about the terpene profile. I feel like that's what the youngsters are forgetting about. The old-timers were all about taste and feel.
An afternoon smoke for snacking
We asked Chef Matt if there was ever a case in which he'd recommend something that didn't induce a strong appetite, at least, not one big enough for putting down a full meal.
“Say you eat a snack midday. If you smoke before that snack, you don't want to smoke something that's gonna make you too hungry.”
Sour Diesel is a great strain to have on hand for a quiet smoke before an afternoon snack. It offers up energizing, mood-boosting effects, and may boost your appetite slightly, but not likely to the extent that you'd want a whole meal. It's also known for its cerebral energy that helps with finishing the rest of the day strong.
Featured image courtesy of Chef Matt