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The Herbal Chef On Sharing His Cannabis Cuisine With Hitler And The Dalai Lama

Like any chef, Christopher Sayegh is focused on using the very best ingredients to make the very best meals for food lovers. That ingredient list includes cannabis - the very best cannabis, of course.

Sayegh (a.k.a. The Herbal Chef) throws pop-up dinner parties with a cannabis twist. He also hosts Pot Pie, a cannabis cooking show on PROHBTD's YouTube channel. And next year, he'll be opening Herb, a cannabis restaurant located right on the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica, California.

These projects are all part of his plans to elevate cannabis culture. To find out more, we spoke with Sayegh about his work, his vision and the future of culinary marijuana.

Here's the final part in our three-part interview with The Herbal Chef. (Be sure to check out part onewhich delves into his background and plans for the new restaurant and part two, where he reveals his guilty pleasures and comes out against "joint pairings" at dinner parties.)

The Herbal Chef part 3

What It Takes To Be a Cannabis Chef

How much time goes into planning dinners?

I'm planning these out for months ahead of time. And if I don't have a month to plan it, I'm literally up night and day planning what is going on.

Because you're on the forefront of a new industry and want to make sure things are done right.

Exactly. And if I don't do that then nobody is going to have an example to follow. And if I plan to become the first Michelin-starred cannabis restaurant, then it has to be perfect.

So you are your toughest boss.

Oh, yeah. I'm ruthless too.

Aside from making yourself work day and night?

Oh, yeah. There's no room to let things slip through the cracks right now. And I have no excuse not to be working my ass off. At this point in time, it's crucial to build my company because in the next few years, we're going to have companies come in with hundreds of thousands of employees and billions of dollars. They're going to do whatever they want. So if I don't prepare myself for that financially and with the brand, then I would be lost in the shuffle.

And the culture itself might get pulled out from underneath you if you're not ahead of the game. Someone like Applebee's might try to do a cannabis menu and make a mockery of all the work that you've done. 

Exactly, exactly. That could happen and that's my biggest fear. So I'm just extremely careful with the time I'm putting in now.

The Cannabis Movement

People would probably be surprised that you take something like cannabis so seriously.

Yeah, or what's the point of doing this? If I was just here to fuck around and make some cannabis-infused food, that would be a waste of my time. The cannabis industry to me is so much more than getting people high. It is literally a chance to dilute big oil, big pharma, big tobacco. And put the power back in the citizens' hands again. We can grow our own plants and sell them back into our economy. This is about creating a new economy. It's not just about getting people stoned. This is creating a new economy so that we can be more self-sufficient and not rely on these big corporations that are quite frankly stealing from us.

So food is one part of a bigger movement.

Exactly. When I started The Herbal Chef, I thought, "How can I reach the entire world with this message?" And there's four ways that you can really talk to the entire world: love, fear, food and music. And I chose love and food as my ways of reaching the world.

And there's music playing during your dinners, so all you need is a little hate and you've covered all four bases.

(laughs) Yeah, a little bit of hate for large corporations.

Dream Dinners

If you could make dinner for anyone - alive or dead, real or fictional - who would it be and what would you make for them?

Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla and then Hitler as well. Just because I want to know what the fuck was going on. I feel like dinner would be a great place to have those discussions, along with Einstein and Tesla, who were geniuses changing reality. Which is what I'm trying to do as well.

Hitler? You must be really committed to the love over hate philosophy.

Absolutely - 100 percent. And I would probably make some Middle Eastern food. It's what brings me home every time I have it. And it's the most shareable cuisine in the world.

I wonder if Hitler would say, 'Could you make schnitzel as a side?'

(laughs) I would politely refuse anything that Hitler requested.

Alright, but If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be and who would make the dinner?

I would want Grant Achatz to cook the dish. And I would want to eat with the Dalai Lama and Buddha.

It'd be great to hear those two offer their interpretations of spirituality.

Exactly, and I think that's what I'd want to learn most from.

What kind of music would you want to play during the meal?

Oh, definitely ancient chanting. (laughs). Honestly, I would want some Flume in there just to throw them off. Get them away from their comfort zone so they talk more.

So do you think all the world's problems could be solved if we could get everyone to sit down for a meal and talk?

I don't think that what I'm doing alone could facilitate that. But I absolutely think that sitting around the dinner table with food in front of you is a great way to dissipate any anger or anguish. Because how can you possibly fight when there is a beautiful piece of chocolate cake sitting in front of you?

That's definitely the pièce de résistance of the interview. 

That was the final instalment of our three-part interview. Be sure to check out part one, which delves into Sayegh's background and plans for the new restaurant and part two, where he reveals his guilty pleasures and comes out against "joint pairings" at dinner parties.

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