- By: Elizabeth Atkinson
Herbal Notes, a California-based supper club that serves cannabis-infused meals, is coming to Chicago next month. They’ll serve six courses with an infused beverage and a take-home bag — and no, it’s not “technically” legal. But that’s not deterring chef and founder Manny Mendoza, a High Times Harvest Cup chef finalist who started Herbal Notes to educate people about cannabis and break away from stoner culture.
Mendoza is teaming up with Chicago chef Daniel Espinoza from Lobo Rey to hold the meal on December 4. They’ve haven’t found a location yet, as Mendoza’s been scouring the city and said they “don’t want to attract the wrong attention.” The dinners, Mendoza said, create a safe space for people to talk about “changing the stigma about what marijuana is and what cannabis is and having a really meaningful conversation about what’s going on in the city.”
At every meal, there’s an emphasis on education. Mendoza said they talk about different strains and how medicinal marijuana can help alleviate certain symptoms. They teach about cannabis, what it’ll do for people and how it affects the body. They also talk about the social responsibility aspect of legalization and foster conversation about how the cannabis industry would benefit a large group of people.
“My hope is that we help by bringing more positive dialogue to the table,” Mendoza said. “I’m hoping that we help progress legislation in pockets of the state; we just want to reinforce in the whole movement that this is good for everyone, not just a small group.”
The dinner has six courses, and emphasis is placed on how cannabis can be inserted into the diet. A ticket costs $125. The first pop-up has had a larger response than Mendoza was expecting — he hoped that 20 people would be interested, but ended up with 40 requests in less than 48 hours. It’s easy to request a reservation by visiting the Herbal Notes website. Mendoza plans on having more pop-ups in the future, and is prioritizing people with medical marijuana cards for this first meal. Beyond the meal, attendees will also receive a take-home kit. The kits will include edibles, but not your traditional stoner-type edibles: Think sauces, coconut oils, and olive oil — things to incorporate into other dishes.
As for the food, Mendoza said it won’t taste like marijuana. Some dishes may have an herbal or grassy note to them, but the extracts he’s using to cook are lab-tested and processed in ways to minimize the traditional “weed-y” flavor. The dishes will be cooked to pair with any natural flavors, and others will include isolates that have no flavor at all.
Mendoza plans on bringing more pop-up dinners to Chicago in the future and hopes to create a dialogue that will inspire more chefs to start integrating cannabis into food. As for the legal aspect, he’s not too worried about it: He figures there are bigger fish to fry than people safely learning about the positive effects of cannabis. The goal is to have a safe, comfortable, and positive environment to have a real conversation about what’s next for marijuana legalization.