It’s almost a universal experience to recall an out-of-hand encounter with edibles. Does this ring a bell? You whip up some weed butter with a group of friends, melt it into a batch of cookies, get way too stoned and spend nine hours staring at the ceiling? It’s happened to plenty of us and it used to be the standard experience for people consuming pot goodies. Now that cannabis is firmly into its second year of legality across Canada, the stigma of amateur over-trips is finally lifting. The future is not only better controlled, but concocted by expert chefs for a pleasurable experience on all fronts.
Enter Food Dudes founder Adrian Niman and his Executive Chef position with Olli – a curated cannabis brand using natural ingredients to craft products with impeccable standards for a refined clientele. “My two passions are food and cannabis,” Adrian beams. “It’s a dream to merge those two things professionally.” With the brand new Olli commissary up and running in Etobicoke and a line of offerings set for an early-2020 release, the Olli team is excited for people to experience the products they’ve been working so hard on. Their scientific approach and commitment to quality spotlight the medicinal benefits of consumable cannabis, with taste and trip control firmly in focus. For Adrian, it’s an illuminating shift from his day-to-day as a chef for catering and restaurant service.
“My biggest challenge is that I’m used to creating something fresh, to be eaten right away,” Adrian explains between his afternoon at the Food Dudes offices and evening in the kitchen of King West fine dining destination Sara. “Olli‘s products need to be stabilized for up to 6 months of shelf life. We create a cookie and then someone in Calgary or Halifax eats it 4 months later, and my reputation is on the line connected to that.” This loss of control, compared to the usual meticulous relationship he has with his daily culinary output, has been an adjustment for Adrian. Not to mention the intense regulatory process each product must undergo before making it into the hands of consumers.
“Let’s say we make a batch of 10,000 cookies,” Adrian hypothesizes. “Samples from that batch go to a government lab for testing, where they examine the potency, make sure there’s no chance of incorrect dosing and give them a pass or fail. If it’s a fail, we have to throw out the whole batch. If it’s a pass, we can distribute by sending directly to the Ontario Cannabis Store, which sells the cookies.” This level of scrutiny is the same for any food manufacturing business in the country, and a suitably high bar to measure Olli’s rigorous production process. The company’s research and development work, purchase of high tech equipment and employment of scientists all support one goal: to deliver exceptional products that epitomize the healthful enjoyment of cannabis. Refreshingly, the entire organization is driven by a desire to elevate the world of edibles.
Olli’s Director of Operations Tess A. Fox – a former manager at The Food Dudes’ flagship restaurant Rasa – is a familiar connection for Adrian. After meeting Olli’s founders, he felt this was the right fit to follow a longtime dream. “Personally, I’ve been smoking for 15 years,” Adrian says. “These days, I’ve been microdosing because mentally, I can’t function doing more than that.” With this measured approach to cannabis consumption in mind, Adrian is fulfilling his vision of launching an edibles brand. And he doesn’t want to leave anybody staring blankly into space for hours on end.
“If you and your friend take the same product, you’re going to have the same experience,” Adrian assures Olli’s future clients. On top of the 5 teas available across Canada, a trio of Adrian’s expertly crafted edibles will hit the market in January. The Strawberry Fruit Chew provides Olli’s elegant version of a gummy while their Chocolate Hemp Crunch plays on the simple marriage of texture and sweetness, and a savoury Butter Cookie based on Chef Olivia Thorpe‘s classic Food Dudes recipe combines salt and pepper with shortbread for a delightful twist. “I can’t wait for people to get a taste of these creations,” Adrian exclaims with a smile. “It’s been so much fun to get to this point, and the best is yet to come.”