The Nomad Cook is Travis Mogens Petersen and he has an idea for his country—turn Canada into a culinary cannabis destination the way Italy is a destination for art and Mexico is a destination for beaches. Petersen, arguably the country’s leader on ticketed infused meals, has served 4,500 people his infused experiences and he sees Canada’s federal recreational legal cannabis laws as an opportunity to add to his country’s tourism packages. Serving infused meals in Toronto, he met couples who’d traveled to his dinners from New York and Michigan and he believes that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If Canada could create a legal infused culinary industry, the country would benefit from tourism dollars, taxes, and have another thing our country was known for: delicious infused food.
“We have a golden opportunity,” says Petersen, based in Vancouver, newly engaged, and 39-years-old. “Couples who vacation for food aren’t picking Canada and it’s nothing against our amazing chefs and restaurants, but we’re just not seen as a culinary destination—culinary cannabis is the new frontier.”
culinary cannabis is the new frontier.
Restaurants in Canada aren’t legally allowed to serve cannabis infused meals or drinks and ticketed events are legal, but operate in a grey zone. The law states that recreational cooking with cannabis is allowed at home, but you can’t sell cannabis without a government license. Petersen’s home cooking events are allowed, however, because his guests purchase their own cannabis and he, as a chef, can use their ingredients in his food. However, his dream is much bigger than tiptoeing around regulations and the vision he has isn’t only for himself. Petersen thinks Canadian chefs should be sharing recipes, opening infused hotspots, and creating environments in which delicious new-wave cooking is not only allowed, but promoted. The wine industry has done wonders in the Niagara Valley and Kelowna. And Canopy was onto something when they turned their headquarters in Smiths Falls into a tourist destination, with a gift shop and tour. Petersen knows that most of the large licensed producers dream of being able to sell their freshly grown cannabis from their greenhouses the way apple farmers sell their juices and pies. He says the Nomad Cook wants to do likewise, but take things a step further. And he also believes these restaurants would not be a venue for getting blitzed.
“I gave a talk on cooking with CBD right before the pandemic to 450 American country club chefs and when I was finished, 30 country clubs were ready to bring me out,” Petersen recalls. “Cannabis cuisine is growing in popularity and I think Canada has, and is missing, an opportunity to lead.”
Cooking with cannabis obviously isn’t easy. People have different tolerances and Petersen envisions something like a spiciness level to differentiate how many milligrams you’d want of THC in your infused food. He knows that his dream may be years away. Still, Canada made history by becoming the first G8 country to legalize recreational cannabis and we’re already changing the world. Why not reap more of the benefits in our tourism, and in our food? He says, “I think what we need is support from the government and courage in the culinary community because I know that people will come to Canada for this, right now.”