We are so excited that Topstone vaporizers will be included at Chef Michael Magallanes next Heightened Series dinner event on July 28!
When Michael reached out about bringing in vaporizers for experiencing full melt hash with each course of his meal, we were incredibly excited by the premise. Instead of infusing each of his elegantly crafted dishes, he will pair Humboldt County's own NASHA Extracts terpene rich hash as you would pair wine with each course. Additionally, The Josh Craig will provide musical stylings throughout the night that reflect the ingredients and flavor of each dish.
This Heightened Series event is on July 28: a private, invitation-only event with a suggested donation of $150.00.
After traveling and cooking in South America, Michael moved to San Francisco to pursue his dreams. He trained professionally for 10 years at various restaurants, and for the last 5 years of his training, he was a chef for Mourad Lahlou; first at Michelin starred Aziza, then for the opening of Michelin starred Mourad.
Ahead of the dinner, Michael shared with us what drives his passion and how he came to integrating his cuisine with cannabis.
Topstone: First off, who is Opulent Chef and where are you based?
You started cooking as a teenager -- what drove your passion for food? What kinds of things were you cooking back then?
For some reason, I've just always wanted to cook and play with food. It was fun learning different knife skills and cooking techniques. I started off just watching cooking shows on TV and reading my mom's old cookbooks. I used to cook dinners for the family during high school. In college, I studied Philosophy and Political Science, nothing culinary, but I would cook dinner for housemates and friends. It wasn't until after college that I realized I needed to pursue my hobby full-time in restaurant kitchens to expand my skill set to include better technique and presentation.
The food you create looks almost whimsical, with texture and detail that truly creates a novel experience with food. You trained at various restaurants, two of which are Michelin starred. How would you describe your culinary style now?
My culinary style is modern San Francisco fine dining. I use a mix of flavors from both local and international ingredients, skillfully prepared and beautifully presented. I definitely use seasonal Northern California produce. We get some of the best produce in the world here, and I try to showcase it to the best of my ability.
I live in Little Saigon and we have some great Southeast Asian markets. Chinatown is phenomenal for dried sea cucumber, abalone, fish maw, and other luxury Chinese ingredients. I have some great purveyors that allow me to source a lot of seafood and fish from Japan. We get some of the best cannabis out here as well.
“Concentrates, traditional bubble hash in particular, for me is the closest we can get to wine.”
What’s your favorite piece of kitchen gear?
My knives and stones.
What drew you to creating infused dishes? How would you describe the flavor of cannabis?
I was drawn to creating cannabis infused dishes because it's an ingredient that is unexplored. The idea of opulence in modern restaurants has been redefined from its traditional meaning of truffles and caviar overly used on every dish to using both common and unexplored ingredients with exceptional skill in preparation, creating an uncommon deliciousness on the plate.
I feel that by using exceptional skill in preparing cannabis, my showcased artful creations will exude an uncommon deliciousness on the plate. Fine dining is undergoing a magnificent gestalt shift and cannabis is at the forefront. The flavor of cannabis really varies. It depends on where it was grown and what strain it is. There can be some really nice mushroom, grassy, barnyard or citrusy, fruity flavors. It really has to be paired properly when cooked with.
How did you and Barron Lutz, founder of NASHA extracts, connect? Can you explain the significance of using whole cannabis plant extracts?
Barron was an ex-cook of mine at Mourad. He branched off and started his own hash company. About six months later he had noticed that I started my own private chef company. He came to me wanting me to cook with his hash. That's how it started. Whole plant concentrates, especially rosin and bubble hash, allow for the plant to speak to you in its fullest form.
There is a definite entourage effects with all the cannabinoids and terpenes working together to give the consumer the proper experience according to that specific plant.
THC distillate or CO2 extracts with terpenes being reintroduced are not true to the plant and the high just feels off. Medicinally as well, solventless whole plant is by far superior.
What is your favorite ingredient to work with (experiment, play, infuse) right now?
I've been experimenting a lot with fish maw recently. I've always been a little intimidated by it, but recently have been playing around with it more and more.
Can you describe what someone can expect when they come to one of your dinners -- what is their experience like?
They can expect a fantastic meal with amazing cannabis and wonderful people. They will also get to experience one of the most forward thinking crop to kitchen events. It's something really magical.
We’re so excited to have Topstone at your next dinner as an accompaniment. Why did you decide to include concentrates as a part of the experience?
Concentrates, traditional bubble hash in particular, for me is the closest we can get to wine.
The flavor really depends on where the plant was grown, how it was grown. The hash maker then takes that plant and makes hash, cures it perfectly so that the terpenes are in their peak. It makes the most sense if we are going to have cannabis pairings with various courses throughout the meal. It can be done with flower, but it can be executed even more beautifully when done properly with amazing hash. Food loves wine. If we are going to replace wine, it needs to have similar characteristics to it.
What do you hope dinner guests come away with?
I hope they come away with the understanding that cannabis can be part of the fine dining experience. That cannabis can be taken to new heights; its stigma can be broken.
Finally...what do you want “Opulent Chef” to be known for?
Making exceptional food and bringing people together to have wonderful shared experiences around food, cannabis and wine.