Celebrity chef Todd English talks about his new cannabis-infused food line

Todd English is the latest celebrity chef to embrace cooking with hemp.

James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur recently rolled out his hemp-filled line of mac and cheese, the first product launch of his new packaged food brand, LastLeaf.

“We’ve had a great response,” English told ABC News Live.

Macaroni and cheese currently comes in two flavors, white cheddar with crusts, and classic cheddar with elbow macaroni.

Chef Todd English has announced his culinary brand of cannabis, LastLeaf. Mac and Cheese is their first show.

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Hemp-infused foods and drinks have mushroomed onto the culinary scene as more states legalize marijuana. Already, 18 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the sale of recreational marijuana to adults over 21.

The English twist on traditional macaroni and cheese is currently only available in California, but later this year it hopes to expand the line to more cities that have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

Cooking with cannabis is not a new concept in the English language. He started making dishes with the ingredient over a decade ago when his sister Wendy was undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

“I saw my sister and a number of my relatives suffering from horrific cancer,” English said. “My sister has unfortunately passed away, but during the time she was in remission, I was setting things up with cannabis and it seemed to really help her through the struggles of what I felt after chemotherapy,” he said.

Photo: Chef Todd English lost his sister Wendy to breast cancer in 2006. He said she was the inspiration for his cannabis-infused food line.

Chef Todd English lost his sister Wendy to breast cancer in 2006. He said she was the inspiration for his cannabis-filled food range.

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Together with his business partner, Keith Burkard, English has set out to develop healthy food products containing THC and CBD.

“Consumers are ready for that, but it will take some time to integrate into the market,” Burchard said.

“The cannabis industry started with a lot of secondary food groups such as drinks, chips, snacks, chocolate and candy,” he added. “We offer an edible primary food group.”

There is some scientific evidence that marijuana may benefit people with cancer, and relieve chronic pain and nausea caused by chemotherapy.

However, medical experts caution against using cannabis to treat mental health conditions, as it may be ineffective or make symptoms worse in some people.

Cheese-packed macaroni is a far cry from the latest English venture. LastLeaf says it plans to release pasta sauces infused with hemp and olive oil in the coming months.

You won’t find cannabis concoctions on his restaurant menus just yet — the chef currently owns a number of restaurants in places like Las Vegas, Boston, and New York, as well as a few international hotspots. At the moment, he is busy with the opening of new establishments, including The English Hotel in Las Vegas.

Located near the Vegas Strip in the Arts District, English says their namesake hotel is a “very small, artisanal hotel” with a “funky vibe.” It is also home to his new restaurant, The Pepper Club, which is a reflection of the two favorite English, Mediterranean and Japanese cuisines.

While the global pandemic has hit the hospitality industry hard, English said business at some of its restaurants, including in Alabama, Connecticut, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, has almost returned to pre-pandemic levels.

“Weekends are crowded and people are outside,” he said. “It’s just a matter of our ability to handle the business because we don’t have all the elements yet – staffing, supply chain – but it’s getting there.”

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