The first year of cannabis legalization in California concluded in December with the approval of eight consumption lounges and restaurants in West Hollywood. The premium brand Lowell Herb Co. scored one of the licenses and used it to create the restaurant Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Cafe. Though the restaurant originally intended to serve THC- and CBD-infused culinary options, state regulations will keep the cannabis out of the food for now, but guests can consume cannabis at the tables with Flower Hosts (or sommeliers, if you will) assisting with the pairings.
The restaurant, which booked out its first 30 days in only three hours, opens to the public on Tuesday, October 1. The menu includes dishes like grilled yellow peaches with burrata cheese and fried chicken sandwiches with heirloom tomatoes.
Lowell Farms recruited veteran chef Andrea Drummer to run the kitchen and create a farm-to-fork menu that vibes on local California produce and reflects her French training and southern upbringing. The Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef has hosted cannabis food events since 2012 through her Elevation VIP Cooperative, and though she cannot infuse the dishes, she did craft culinary combinations meant to complement the guests’ cannabis-heightened senses. PRØHBTD spoke with Chef Drummer to learn more about her gastronomic approach and history with the cannabis plant.
Did you plan the restaurant together with Lowell Herb, or did they approach you about being the chef afterwards?
Well, it was very organic. When I started Elevation VIP, it was to educate consumers about ingesting cannabis from real foods. When doing these series of dinners and events, I had a partnership with Lowell Herb Co. As they were providing products for my events, they just organically approached me and said, “Hey, you know, let’s build this thing and create something here in the States where it’s now possible.” Of course I jumped on it because, from day one, I’ve absolutely loved their brand, the things they are doing and the place they picked for the restaurant. It’s just natural for me to partner with an entity that is about all of the things I care about.
The original announcement made a big splash in the local press. Has there been any pushback from the city or any attempts to slow down the development since the announcement went public?
Not that I’m aware of. It’s important for us to just be compliant with the city and the state law and to do it properly. More than any pushback, it’s about getting it right and setting a standard for anyone moving forward, for any other city, municipality or state that has legalization. I guess, for me personally, I’m just so excited that I’m not focusing on any negativity.
That’s a really good point about setting a national standard. This is the first restaurant of its kind that I’ve known. What kind of responsibility do you feel for setting a good example that would encourage other cities to allow such restaurants and lounges to be open to the public?
I do feel an enormous sense of responsibility. It’s like a celebrity being in front of millions of people saying, “I’m not a role model,” but, you know, you are. We are setting a standard to something that has never happened in this way. For me, it’s always been important to maintain a level of integrity as it relates to informing and educating the consumer, and all of those things carry over into this project, into this café, into our partnership. It’s not different for me—that’s always been important and it will continue to be so—and we’ll continue to grow in it. Anyone who has one of those licenses should feel an enormous sense of responsibility—and there should be—not only to the city of West Hollywood but to the country. There are eyes on us in doing this and executing it. We owe it to West Hollywood to do right by it.
Do you know what type of cuisine you will focus on?
Well, I am classically trained. I love French techniques, and I am from the South, which features a lot of that technique. I just learned more about it and where it’s derived from and so I became more versed when I went to culinary school. Also, a lot of California farm-to-table fare, which is apropos, is locally grown and seasonal. The food won’t be all over the place, but I want to introduce culture as well because I feel like cannabis and food are so communal, and it’s important to include community and what that looks like here in California.
One of the things I want to implement is a cultural night once a week or once a month to introduce a cuisine from a different nation or culture. More or less, it will be what my guests who dine with me are familiar with: an interesting take on French-inspired Cajun and Creole but with some extras thrown in as well.
On your Instagram feed, you seem to work with many diverse styles, including Middle Eastern. Your falafel looks amazing. Do you think you will have some of those dishes on the menu as well?
Yes. I think that is so important. Food bridges the gap between any differences that we may have. It’s so important to experience each other through food. It makes us more compassionate. It makes us more understanding, more empathetic and more open to experiencing each other.
You come from a very spiritual family that includes ministers. Were they open to cannabis before you got involved in it or were you a major part of their evolution?
Absolutely they were not. It wasn’t even a consideration, and it took about a year and a half before I got up the nerve to share with them what I was up to. Yes, I am a major part of their evolution, and seeing that possibility and seeing my own evolution, I know that it’s plausible for the rest of the country. Yeah, so, they have come around. I mean, no one is smoking or ingesting edibles, but at least they are open, and I have gotten some family members to at least try CBD, which they are fans of.
Can you describe that first conversation with your family?
I was so nervous. My sisters, my mom and I do a girls’ retreat every year, and we were talking about natural remedies, which has always been a thing with our family. My mom has a garden of aloe plants and different things around the yard that she would boil for home remedies. We were talking about natural remedies, and I was like, “Okay, here’s a good segue way. Speaking of natural remedies… I am infusing cannabis.
My sister said, “Well, the bible says, ‘The leaves of the trees are for the healing of nations.'” I was completely taken aback, and that was when we talked about it. For the duration of that trip, they had questions, and we had conversations about it, and I explained the things I had learned since I’ve been in the industry. I think there is still an association to cannabis being a gateway drug, and once we dispelled that myth—we continued to dispel it as an ongoing dialogue, not just one conversation—we crossed the threshold. I’m grateful for their openness.
If you were speaking to somebody outside your family, how would you argue that responsible cannabis consumption is compatible with Christian-Judeo values? What is the argument for a church-going, bible-reading Christian to smoke cannabis without it being a violation of their faith?
It’s not for me to judge. I feel like I could make the argument that cannabis is safer than some of the medications they’re prescribed by their physician or practitioner and that would be the argument. I wouldn’t feel comfortable arguing anyone’s religion or personal belief. I would argue and advocate for the cannabis plant.
One of the amazing things I saw you were doing on the medical side is creating food for cancer patients. Would you have any bandwidth to be able to continue doing that through the new restaurant?
Oh, absolutely. I want to introduce liquid food and recipes that support cancer patients. Again, it’s all an extension of what I have been doing, and Lowell is so onboard with it. Like I said, that is why they asked me to be a part of this. I just want to add things on [to what I’ve been doing] that will make it even better.