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These Chefs Are Feeding DC’s Medical Marijuana Workers on 4/20

The chefs behind edible company Taste Buds will give out about 100 meals on the holiday.

Inspired by other efforts to support essential employees and healthcare workers, the chefs behind homegrown edible company Taste Buds are distributing approximately 100 meals to DC’s medical marijuana workers on 4/20.

“These are just employees like everyone else out there trying to feed their families and not get sick, and trying to help these patients,” says Taste Buds culinary partner Anna Bran-Leis.

Cap Mac chef Victoria Harris started Taste Buds in 2016 with partners Bran-Leis (co-owner of Taqueria del Barrio, Dos Mamis, and DC Empandas) and CakeLove’s Warren Brown, bringing chefs into the marijuana-infused food space. Harris says the local cannabis community has cheered on Taste Buds for the past four years as they work through a complex regulatory environment. “There’s no other industries as synergistic with the cannabis industry as the culinary—peanut butter and jelly,” says Harris.

Some dispensary employees are working long shifts right now with minimal staff, and the 4/20 rush only increases the pressure, says Bran-Leis. “Just like they never eat, chefs never eat either,” says Harris. “I see that same kind of focus—for them on the patient and for us on the customer.”

Bran-Leis shared her idea to feed the city’s medical marijuana workers and the Taste Buds team jumped into action. Harris reached out to her Culinary Institute of America classmate, Federalist Pig pitmaster Rob Sonderman, to cater barbecue meals for employees at the city’s dispensaries and greenhouses. Brown is providing cake tins, and mezcal brand El Silencio donated mini bottles. This afternoon, Harris is initiating no-contact drop-offs around DC.

“Ultimately, I just want to make sure—even if it’s a little bit—we can do something to help somebody who’s out there every day fighting the fight,” says Bran-Leis. “I am in the hospitality industry and I don’t want to lose that.”

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Daniella Byck

Daniella joined Washingtonian in August 2018. She is a University of Wisconsin-Madison grad and lives in Logan Circle.