Yellowknife chef Robin Wasicuna says he is the first in the Northwest Territories to become a trained cannabis sommelier.
Wasicuna, whose Twin Pine Diner in the city recently closed, undertook an intensive two-day course with private company CannaReps, in Calgary, to achieve his certification.
He now hopes to introduce a line of cannabis-infused snacks and meals in Yellowknife.
“I’m looking at doing a line of jams, peanut butters, spreads,” Wasicuna told Mornings at the Cabin. “But I want to take it further, including multi-course dinners that are infused.
“This is a herb. If you take a bud and eat it, you’re not going to get high. You have to activate it. But you can use that fresh bud as a herb on top, as a garnish, or a flavour component of the dish.
“I can’t stress enough that it’s not all about getting high,” he said. “There are ways to use this medicinally and dose yourself properly so you don’t experience bouts of depression or severe anxiety. It really makes a difference.”
Wasicuna said the course emphasized, for him, the difference in quality between cannabis available through the NWT government and that sold in southern Canada.
“Down south is far superior, but they are closer to the producers and the suppliers,” he said. “The biggest problem lies in the packaging. The packaging needs to be airtight.
“Without it being air-seal tight, you’re losing all the flavour profiles of it and then it’s dry. It shouldn’t be dry.”
CannaReps, with the slogan “experience sells more responsibly,” says it provides “expert cannabis education” through courses held at various locations in Canada.
Level one certification costs $480 according to the company’s website. Level two courses are priced at $680.
Wasicuna, whose Chingon Tacos food truck is spending the summer in downtown Yellowknife, believes there are currently around 60 sommeliers certified to level two nationwide.
“The majority of the people that took it in the beginning worked in the industry, ran the shops, and were selling pot to the general public,” said Wasicuna. “It’s really started to take on a whole other life now.
“It allows me to work in the industry, slide into any job selling it,” he said, adding there may be the possibility of working as a corporate chef for a cannabis producer in the future.
“Being a chef, I want to take it to the food level. I want to have a line of edibles but not just candies and gummies, I want to do gourmet meals – elevate it a bit more. That’s the biggest reason that I took the course,” he said.
“And, obviously, being a lifelong enthusiast.”