Chef Brandon Allen is exploring terpenes at the intersection of food and cannabis.
Allen has a childhood passion for cooking that exploded after he read “Kitchen Confidential” by Anthony Bourdain. Inspired by Bourdain’s exploration for new tastes he began his own journey that included culinary school and competitive cooking with the Olympic Culinary Team.
Running parallel to his culinary life, Allen had suffered from decreased lordosis (a spinal disorder) and degenerative disc disease which caused severe pain. Originally he utilized pain prescriptions and as he got older alcohol to help with some discomfort. However, moves to Colorado and eventually California allowed Allen access to a different path.
“When I moved to Colorado I was reintroduced to cannabis as a legal recreation, but when I moved to California I was introduced to cannabis as a medicine,” Allen said. “Interestingly enough, now that I know what I know about the plant, it’s always been a drug and a medicine at the same time for me. I love being high but I also love having less pain, better sleep, less of a desire to drink, and a having a better connection to the energy of the world.”
A cannabis interpreting course from the Trichome Institute in California, helped frame much of Allen’s understanding of the cannabis plant. The course utilized terpene isolates from True Terpenes and cannabis flower to help train him to identify the various compounds in the flower. He now works with the Trichome Institute to develop training courses.
Allen parlayed that knowledge and his culinary experience into a winning campaign for High Times Top Cannabis Chef Competition. That exposure led to the role as a cannabis interpreter on an episode of Viceland’s “Most Expensivest” with musical artist 2 Chainz.
Allen said while cannabis can be used medically, many of the edible products aren’t created in healthy ways and don’t contain terpenes as they’re volatile and burn out during cooking.
“There is no “indica / sativa” edible, it’s just cannabinoids, so that’s the first misrepresentation of edibles, and the second is that the majority of edibles on the market, I wouldn’t buy if they weren’t infused due to the unhealthy ingredients, so why in the world would I mix my “medicine” with this? I’m bring brutal here but I mean it – however I hope that now that the medicinal / recreational markets have been separated, that the edibles will be as well. 1 + (-1) = 0. medicine + toxin = toxin.”
While terpenes evaporate during cooking, they can be added at the end or in larger amounts during cooking for effective use, according to Allen. You can even find some of his recipes on the True Terpenes blog. And for a more unique application Allen said, “I use limonene on zits and they disappear in no time!”