Photo: Catherine Lamb

You might know Cat Cora as the first female Iron Chef on Food Network’s Iron Chef America, or the first female inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame. But what you might not know is that this culinary celebrity is also an outspoken advocate for cannabis — specifically CBD — as a health and wellness ingredient.

While at Seattle’s Cannacon this week I got to watch Chef Cora whip up a feast worthy of a white tablecloth, all of which was infused with CBD. “The effect of CBD is not a high,” said Cora. She — along with many people around the world — views CBD as a wellness ingredient, not an intoxicant.

Onstage Cora whipped up crab cakes with mango coulis and avocado salsa, adding a teaspoon of CBD isolate (a powder that contains 99 percent CBD) to the crab mixture. She also mixed together a mocktail of pomegranate juice and muddled mint, poured over ice cubes made with Above Water, which contains 15mg of CBD in each 20-ounce bottle.

After the demo, Cora spoke candidly about what drew her to begin advocating for marijuana legalization and de-stigmatization in the first place. She saw both her parents pass away from cancer and witnessed firsthand how medical marijuana could have alleviated some of their pain. She has been experimenting “publicly” with different ways to cook with CBD for the past year and a half.

Plenty of companies are working to make CBD more accessible as a cooking and baking ingredient. Azuca infuses CBD into granulated sugar and sugar syrup, which you can add to everything from coffee to cookies. Levo is a countertop device that helps you infuse CBD into fats, like butter or olive oil. Stillwater has an odorless CBD powder which can incorporate into everything from tea to cookies, and Tarukino has a water-soluble CBD serum that can be added easily to any drink (even water).

“This is the new Prohibition,” she told the audience, referring to the fact that cannabis is technically illegal in all states, even the ones that legalize it. “I want to take the stigma out of it, I want to debunk the myths around how cannabis can be used.” For example, you don’t have to eat a bitter CBD tincture or a stale gummy to experience the wellness benefits of CBD. Instead, you can use them as functional ingredients to make really elevated dishes — including crab cakes worthy of an Iron Chef.

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