Photo credit: Rachael Heffner

There aren’t many places in the world where you can go to buy legal cannabis products, and even when you do, do you know exactly what everything on that label means? What if you’ve never experienced cannabis before, or you have and don’t necessarily understand what you are ingesting, and the effects it might have on you? If you’re in Las Vegas, you’re in luck. Not only can you buy medicinal and recreational cannabis here, but you can now learn exactly what those long names on the labels mean, and even how to create your own products—in true Vegas style, with the help of a celebrity chef!

Chef Dee Russell is a cannabis consultant whose work has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, High Times and CNN, among others. She also has countless television appearances under her belt, including on Netflix’s Cooking on High and Snoop Dogg’s MERRY JANE Smoke in the Kitchen. She was the first chef to have her edibles distributed here in Las Vegas, and now she’s bringing another “first” to her home city with “The Happy Chef Cooking Series.” Students learn how to create their own cannabis edibles, dishes and topicals directly from a well-known and seasoned expert in the field. The series takes place at Acres Dispensary, which will soon rebrand as Curaleaf Western Boulevard, and it also features celebrity guests as well as other leaders in the cannabis industry. 

Vegas is the perfect place for the series, as it’s not just a class; it’s a full presentation. Chef Dee delights the audience with a lively performance, with the help of a DJ and guest hosts, and gives an informative yet entertaining lesson on some of the chemicals used in cannabis products. And just like in class, some of the highest achievers are rewarded for their efforts, so you’ll want to make sure and pay attention! But keep in mind that every student still walks away with Chef Dee’s cookbook The Happy Chef, which will help you take your canna cooking to the next level.

Entertainment aside, the series serves a vital purpose: teaching consumers about what they are actually consuming in a still-emerging industry, where testing standards and labeling rules are ever-evolving. Many people who use cannabis products don’t always understand what goes into them; they just know “this will make me feel better,” or “this will get me high.”  Ed Gehres, President of Curaleaf Nevada, says this new series aims to address that challenge. “Curaleaf believes in the right of all medical patients and recreational users to consume cannabis with confidence,” said Gehres. “By collaborating with someone like Chef Dee Russell, who brings years of knowledge and experience in the cannabis industry to her work, we can further bridge the gap between assumptions and real, fact-based information to help our customers be more successful with the products we offer.”

As a cannabis consumer myself, I thought I knew what to look for at a dispensary that would elicit a particular feeling or sensation—until Chef Dee taught me exactly what chemicals were most important on labels, and even left me with the empowering feeling that I could create my own cannabis products at home. That, Gehres says, is the whole point. “We would like people to leave these sessions with an enhanced understanding of how cannabis might help improve their lives in different ways. Chef Dee is both highly experienced and entertaining, which makes her an especially skilled messenger. She is adept at demonstrating how to make the most of what cannabis has to offer and is an extraordinary resource regarding tips for consumers’ own at-home cannabis preparations.”

For anyone wanting to attend “The Happy Chef Cooking Series,” it is held a few times per month at Acres Dispensary (soon to be Curaleaf). This is the perfect venue for the class, as it offers the state’s only open-view cannabis extraction kitchen, where customers can catch a glimpse of the process involved in creating cannabis oil. In addition to that, connoisseurs may also want to check out The Underground: Marijuana Farmers Market on Fridays and Saturdays, which helps spotlight local growers and producers by featuring products like flower, edibles, tinctures and more, with vendors rotated on a weekly basis.

As you might have guessed, some of Chef Dee’s live shows for audiences at the dispensary have been postponed to a later date in April, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. But Chef Dee says the show must go on, and she will still perform a live show for her YouTube subscribers on the dates and times posted on her website, www.EdibleDee.com. You can also catch the full shows on her at www.patreon.com/edibledee.

If cannabis cooking is in your future, you will not want to miss this class. Students come away with a better understanding of not only the chemicals found in cannabis and what their individual impacts are, but they’ll also know what to look for to suit their personal needs. I definitely did, and I’m looking forward to going back!