|Cannabis food, drinks to be 2019's hottest dining trend, top chefs say|
DENVER – Sprinkled on donuts, mixed into milkshakes or infused into olive oil, make no mistake: Cannabis is coming to a kitchen near you.
Chefs across the country say cannabis-infused food and drinks are the top two dining trends they expect to see unfold in 2019, although we’re not talking about food that will get you “high" – these are products made with "CBD," a non-psychoactive compound extracted from cannabis plants that enthusiasts say offers health benefits while tempting the palate.
"I'm telling you, 75 percent of my clientele is doctors, nurses and lawyers," said Josh Schwab, 45, whose Denver-area Glazed & Confuzed donut shop makes a CBD-frosted doughnut topped with a candied hemp leaf, selling upwards of 30 each weekend day. "You get all the relaxation without the head high. It kinda just takes the edge off."
CBD-infused food and drink popularity surges
Jonathan Eppers, 35, has seen the rocketing CBD interest firsthand: Launched just a year ago from LA, his CBD-infused Vybes drinks are now available in 19 states, including New York and Florida, in flavors such as blueberry mintand blackberry lavender.
"I was tired of living every day anxious. I wanted to be more present and calm. That’s what CBD does for me," said Eppers, whose fledgling company sold more than 1.1 million bottles last year.
Lori Hofer, the co-owner of The Cereal Box restaurant in Arvada, Colorado, makes a bowl of cereal for a customer near a sign telling customers that the shop can add CBD powder to cereal, milkshakes and coffee.
Lori Hofer, the co-owner of The Cereal Box restaurant in Arvada, Colorado, makes a bowl of cereal for a customer near a sign telling customers that the shop can add CBD powder to cereal, milkshakes and coffee. (Photo: Trevor Hughes, Trevor Hughes-USA TODAY NETWORK)
The survey of chefs was part of an annual poll conducted for the National Restaurant Association, which checked with more than 650 professional chefs. Of those, 77 percent said CBD drinks are the No. 1 trend they see for 2019, followed by CBD foods.
Zero-waste kitchens were the third top trend identified by the chefs, who are all members of the American Culinary Federation, and who have previously singled out artisanal cheese, house-made condiments and savory desserts.
And heads-up: These same chefs say pretzels in desserts are on their way out.
Hudson Riehle, 65, the restaurant association's senior research director, said it's still too early to tell if CBD is just a fad or will fade into history like molecular gastronomy or meals served in mason jars. U.S. restaurants are an $850 billion industry that employs about 15 million people, and the daily conversations chefs have with customers help inform the survey, said Riehle.
"Ultimately, what the consumer wants comes to fruition," he said.