Chef Sevan Abdessian Discusses his Pop-Up Cannabis "Gatherings"

By Carolyn Lipka on September 16, 2017

Los Angeles-based chef Sevan Abdessian is the brains and hands behind The Gathering, a cannabis-infused dinner series held at various locations through the city, including at his former restaurant, 51 Tavern, in Highland Park. Abdessian—who served as Adam Sandler's personal chef early in his culinary career—crafts infused dishes that have included Aleppo pepper-crusted hamachi with jalapeño and pot ponzu, roasted parsnips with a beet-rose hip reduction, and dry-aged duck breast with a pistachio-sativa puree. PRØHBTD sat down with chef Abdessian to discuss food, the struggles of throwing a legally dubious event and the future of cannabis cuisine.

Tell me a little bit about The Gathering.

Just a fun project to sort of gather people around for, you know, living life, love and enjoying together. Essentially that’s the basis of it.

What got you interested in creating a cannabis-driven supper club?

Just because I feel like it’s part of my life already. I kind of added more to it by inviting other people essentially. 

You have a lot of experience making infused meals in fine dining?

For myself and for experimentation with my friends, yes, but never on the scale that we do now.

You have a background in fine dining from your time at Patina, and sometimes you partner with chefs like Kris Morningstar, who has a similar pedigree with Terrine. How do you see the intersection of cannabis cuisine and the more rigid requirements and technique required of fine dining establishments?

It’s actually a lot of the same rules. 

Like what?

Like the amount of tincture, the detail in the food, not to over power it, all the things that it takes to balance fine dining you apply the same thing to the cannabis infused with it.

What are some of the culinary challenges of infusion?

I think dosage and finding places that you can legally do it without getting into trouble right now.

What are some of the legal challenges?

I think all those are going to go out the door next year. Right now there’s all this stupid little litigation, like sort of lobbyism types of rules. I think it will change as soon as next year when the country finds out what an amazing thing it’s going to do for the country in terms of taxes and stuff like that. 

How do you see The Gathering fit into the landscape of current cannabis pop-ups like PopCultivate and the Pot Shabbat, which are more art and theme driven?

I see it fitting really well because it’s so big. Listen, people want to get together and enjoy life because life is too short. They want to gather together. We gather goods, we gather people and that’s how we enjoy life. 

A lot of other cannabis dinners have art or thematic angles. What do you see as the angle or emphasis of The Gathering?

It’s forever changing. It can be anything. It can be done in a field for 20 people. It can be done for 100 people in an Opera House setting in the lobby. It can be anything, and that’s why it’s so broad. It could be a drop off, you know what I mean?

Do you see it as ever becoming something…?

Yeah, I see it just taking off to that level where it just becomes a straight-up revenue source for restaurants.

So you see it as participating in a larger trend?


Do you see The Gathering being something that could eventually become brick and mortar? 

Definitely. I could definitely see it becoming brick and mortar.

What’s your goal for it?

At this point, the goal is to have fun with it and to meet people. Socialize and keep it to the core, which is what I wanted from the beginning. I just wanted to bring people around and enjoy nice food and nice company. People who are interested in that lifestyle and cannabis infusion just coming together. 

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