The Sweetest Thing

Expecting their first child on a day not long after the kind magazine photoshoot, Erica Karbelnik looked at all the assembled cannabis and said with a smile, “It’s just not fair.” Erica and Josh had prepared a gourmet spread that we laughingly called a Banquet in Heaven, but all of the assembled guests agreed that, after the year we’ve all had, we deserve a nice meal. Catching up with the charismatic cooks, kind editor Ben Kaplan rolled up his sleeves.
  • Ben Kaplan: Let’s start this thing off on the right foot. What tastes fucking awesome when you’re stoned?

    Erica Karbelnik: A big ass banana split from Dairy Queen, extra strawberry sauce and Lay's chips on the side. . . OMG.

    Josh Karbelnik: Jalapeño chips with French Onion dip and pepperoncinis.

  • BK: What is it that first made you fall in love with food?

    EK: I fell in love with food at a really young age, I connected more with playing with ingredients than playing with toys. I loved seeing people’s faces when I cooked them something. My mom was always good at hiding the laughs even if it was bad!

    Josh Karbelnik: I fell in love with the smells of the food on the stove. I was always hungry so I always wanted to learn how to recreate it myself.

  • BK: How did you know you had a knack for cooking?

    EK: People didn’t hate my food, lol!

    JK: When I would watch the chefs on TV and be able to recreate their dishes and it would come out the same. The first stage of a good cook is knowing how to recreate the chef's recipes.

  • BK: Who is your culinary hero and who is your ideal eater?

    EK: Culinary Hero: Anthony Bourdain. Ideal eater: Josh!

    JK: Hero: Charlie Trotter. Ideal eater? Anybody who enjoys and appreciates food.

  • BK: What’s been the best meal you’ve ever had, both eating in and dining out?

    EK: The best meal I’ve ever had was at Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal. I love foie gras and you literally just indulge in foie there. It’s one of my favourite restaurants, nothing fancy, but you can taste the love and time they have put into their food. As for eating in, I love sitting on the couch with Josh and just ordering take out. It’s one of my favourite things. I also love when we just decide to have a mountain of oysters at home in our PJs.

    JK: For eating in, my dad’s BBQs. Whenever my dad and I get together, we always have BBQ that include burnt salami, ribs, chicken and his famous Bhel puri. As for eating out, hands down Joel Robechon in Paris—during our honeymoon.

  • BK: As a celebrity chef couple, who cooks in your house Sunday night?

    EK: Generally we cook together. One of us will make the main course, the other will make the sides. And if not—take out.

  • BK: You’ve been around Canada cooking (and eating), how does the cuisine change in different provinces?

    EK: Traveling through Canada, you definitely see a change from west coast to east. West coast will have a lot of Asian influence, the Prairies will use a lot of what they have on the land—heavier dishes because of the cold and more meat-forward, and then as you head east, Toronto being so diverse it needs to appeal to all palates, ending off on the east coast where the main focus is seafood.

  • BK: Did you get wigged out the first time you had to cook on TV?

    EK: We were both extremely nervous! It was when we both competed on Food Network's Chopped Canada and just had no idea what to expect.

  • BK: How come everytime you enter a televised cooking competition you win?

    JK: Determination. We don’t take failure very well.

  • BK: Your profile raised after the Chopped Canada win. Did your life change?

    EK: Chopped was a fun experience. I gained a lot more confidence in my cooking ability after that.

  • BK: And I guess Top Chef Canada came next because you did so well on that? Can I ask: was it as fun as it looked?

    EK: Josh made me do it. He was determined to sign up, and then wanted me too, as well. We have always wanted to compete on that show—let alone against each other. It was fun, but definitely stressful and a complete learning experience

    JK: Erica and I have watched the show for years. And have always wanted to do it, so when we found out they were casting we had to sign up. And it was either put up or shut up!

  • BK: It’s cool that chefs of your stature aren’t afraid to be outspoken cannabis connoisseurs. When did you first experiment with cannabis—both in and out of the kitchen?

    JK: I started using cannabis in my early 20s to help with my anxiety and depression. I started cooking with it when I was in culinary school and wanted to put two of the things I loved together. Cannabis and cooking.

  • BK: For first-time infused winter chefs, what should readers keep in mind?

    JK: Two things: 1. Don’t eat too much (lol) and 2: Don’t overheat your cannabis because you can kill your THC.

  • BK: Do you see the world opening its mind to cannabis?

    JK: 100 percent. You can already see the shift in society when it comes to cannabis use. People are starting to see the benefits and it’s starting to lose the bad reputation associated with cannabis.

  • BK: Can Canada lead the global revolution of infused cooking? Who are some Canadian chefs you love?

    EK: I think Canada is definitely one of the first to dip it’s toes in cannabis cooking, and we can make it big here as more people are becoming open minded to it.

  • BK: What’s some stuff every stoner should keep stocked in the fridge?

    EK: In our fridge, we always have the essentials: butter, chicken stock, cream, habaneros, lemons, and something chocolatey, of course.

  • BK: You have a baby on the way, my friend, and congratulations. How have you been eating and what can you not wait to dig into?

    EK: So many cheeseburgers. It is all this child wants! As for me? I can’t wait to have a massive plate of oysters!!!

  • BK: And a side of cannabis?

    EK: Of course! And cannabis is changing every day, there are definitely some new strains I can’t wait to try.

  • BK: OK, guys. Thanks for everything and godspeed. Last but not least, the million dollar question … What's next???

    EK: Josh and I have been hard at work on our at home fine dining catering experience, bringing fine dining and custom menus to your home. We have loved being able to work together and focus on our family and we also have introduced cannabis infused menus to our catering—which have been super fun and really a great experience for our guests.

    Check out our Instagram @bringonthekarbs.