As we, at Free Range Kings, have delved deeper and deeper into the world of cannabis cuisine, one thing has become obvious – regardless of your state’s cannabis laws and regulations, chefs will find a way to make meals with the “magic plant,” and there will be an abundance of customers welcoming it with wide open arms. One of the states with squishy laws around cannabis is New York, where they have decriminalized possession (2019), and all signs point to the legalization of recreational marijuana in the near future. A lot of New Yorkers, including Governor Cuomo, want to legalize cannabis ASAP.
Twenty years ago, if you were to ask me to place odds on which states would legalize first, New York would be at the very top of the list as most likely to “go green.” I have fond memories of my many trips up the East Coast to the five buroughs to immerse myself in what felt like the epicenter of progressiveness and edginess, including an extremely 420-friendly culture. In the early 2000s, I stayed with my good friend in the Bronx. On a daily basis, multiple times a day, he would blaze up a joint walking down the street, just as fearless as can be.
That brings me to our very first feature on a New York-based cannachef – Chef Shawn Hamilton, also known as “Chef Hamz.” He has been cooking with cannabis for five years and has already been mentioned in High Times Magazine. His business Hamilton’s Kitchen provides services as a caterer and personal chef, offers private dinners, and even offers cooking lessons. One look at his pictures reveals his refined technique and presentation. Here is how our discussion with Chef Hamz went.
Free Range Kings (FRK): Tell us about your background.
Shawn Hamilton (Chef Hamz): Born in Brooklyn. Raised like a Jamaican in Queens, NYC. What got the me to where I am is my special private dinners that are featured in High Times Magazine.
FRK: Tell us about your business and the services provided.
Chef Hamz: I am a private chef who deals with clients who prefer a drop off or in-home services. I travel depending on the services needed by a customer. It’s just me, and I hire staff on the go.
FRK: What cuisines do you specialize in?
Chef Hamz: I specialize in Jamaican/Asian fusion.
FRK: Intriguing combination, Chef. How did you get into the cannabis-infused cooking game?
Chef Hamz: I started doing backyard smoke events dubbed the “Smokehaus.” At these events, food was always served, it included the best vendors in the area, and gave all of us an opportunity to vibe with people you never met before.
FRK: How long have you been offering infused dishes as a business?
Chef Hamz: About five years now.
FRK: Any memorable events or clients?
Chef Hamz: A few celebrities and a writer for High Times.
FRK: What makes you different than other cooks specializing in the same cuisine or who also cook with cannabis?
Chef Hamz: I create an experience with all my dinners, each of which tell a story while you dine with me.
FRK: What is your go-to infused dish you make?
Chef Hamz: Jerk Chicken Lo Mein in a Garlic Sauce.
FRK: Do you have rules around dosage or is it based on client’s preference?
Chef Hamz: Both, actually. I micro-dose all people at my dinner, and I’ve also put into play a tap-out rule, meaning you can stop whenever you like to avoid getting too high. Some clients request a specific dosage for their meals as well.
FRK: Any advice for folks that try to cook with cannabis at home?
Chef Hamz: Find your niche, and don’t let anyone stop you. I was told when I first started doing dinners that it wasnt gonna work. Now look at where I am
FRK: Do you have a favorite cannabis strain and local dispensary?
Chef Hamz: GMO. The black market.
“I micro-dose all people at my dinner, and I’ve also put into play a tap-out rule, meaning you can stop whenever you like to avoid getting too high.”
FRK: What’s your go-to meal and restaurant for munchies?
Chef Hamz: Noodz are my go to to meal. The local bodega for a good sandwich and all the snacks.
FRK: What are your favorite tools/appliances to use when cooking with cannabis?
Chef Hamz: My Anova Sous Vide Cooker, my knife of course, and my ardent to decarb accurately.
FRK: What are your passions outside of cooking?
Chef Hamz: Gardening and traveling.
FRK: What is next for Chef Hamz? Any big plans or goals?
Chef Hamz: More dinners in many different places. I want to be international with the cannabis industry. Looking to put a cooking series into effect and push my brand further.
FRK: If someone is trying to book services or try your food, how can they reach you?
FRK: Any final words for Free Range Kings readers?
Chef Hamz: Stay safe, stay positive. Make sure to look for me in your city. Don’t give up on your dreams that you know will make you excel.
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