We had the good fortune of connecting with Unika Noiel and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Unika, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
I strive to make home-cooking and using cannabis as medicine, accessible through free virtual cooking classes, tutorials, demos and education sessions. Many people have questions that range from, “what exactly are cannabinoids?” and “will this get me high?” to “can you teach me how to make biscuits?” and I’m here for all of it!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Over a decade ago, if I told someone I was interested in cooking with cannabis, they’d reply “what, you mean like brownies?” No, not like brownies. In fact, I mean the opposite of brownies….the savory stuff, and foods that people who may be diabetic can consume…or that someone avoiding pain pills can use as medicine in their day-to-day lives. So, without strain repository websites, YouTube videos or recipe blogs (with much more than weed butter recipes), I committed myself to creating those things, and making them accessible to people in the community. Years later, I proudly provided cannabis infused BBQ Sauces, Low-Sugar Jams and Jellies, Coconut Oil, All-Purpose and Gluten-free flours, Cookie Dough Mixes (“just add eggs and butter!”), multiple flavors of “LUVN Mini’s” (mini-poundcake bites) as well as High-dose THC Brownies, to several local medical cannabis dispensaries and caregivers.
I’m very proud of the number of people I’ve been able to assist in their cannabis journey over the years, but it has not been easy at all. There is still stigma attached to cannabis use, and the laws still have not advanced enough to create a space for me to fully pursue Culinary Cannabis as a public, shared experience. In fact, when knowledge of the “FELLOWSHIP” private dining experiences I had been curating under the LUVN Kitchn brand became public, at least one individual took it upon themselves to bring it to the attention of three government agencies in one email. Subsequently, I received a citation, was threatened with jail time, and have been essentially stalked by representatives of said agency who have gone so far as to show up to an event I was advertised to be providing a cooking demo at. I imagine they were both disappointed to come all that way on a Sunday, to find out that I would only be cooking with thyme, oregano and rosemary and discussing the terpene profiles and medicinal benefits that the herbs share with cannabis strains, and how to use them interchangeably, instead of breaking the law. They never spoke with me, but they informed the event organizer that they’d seen my social media post about the event, and came to check up on me.
Eventually, LUVN Kitchn was forced to agree to “cease and desist” providing cannabis dining experiences as it had, so cannabis education moved to the forefront of its mission, through creating new dishes and recipes, and sharing them online through social media and virtual cooking classes (once I picked myself back up off the floor!).
Somewhere along the way, I developed a passion for helping people with even the slightest interest in using cannabis, understand it better and use it more effectively, and I’ve seen it benefit far too many people to turn back any time soon.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If a good friend came to visit me in Seattle and money/time was no object, I’d suggest we do something like this:
Start early in Edmonds with coffee from Cafe Ladro, and hit the road! We’ll head North on I-5 and stop at a few of the family farms and u-pick’s, such as Agrobliss (blueberries) and Biringer Farms (all the berries and then some), on the way to the Anacortes Ferry Terminal.
We’ll hop on a ferry to the San Juan Islands, hopefully spotting a few Orcas along the way to our stay at Bird Rock Hotel in Friday Harbor, where I’ll be sure to get the room with the hot tub and fireplace! Then off to the local wineries, lavender farm and/or alpaca farm before treating ourselves to a reservation at Rosario Resort for a meal and massages. (1-2 days)
Once back on the mainland, we can hit the Cascade Loop and decide how many of its 440 miles we want to conquer. I’d suggest we head to the Bavarian themed town of Leavenworth for more wine (there are several wineries and wine rooms to choose from!) and a leisurely float down the river, and crash for the night. Then 30 minutes more and we’re in Wenatchee – we’ll head to the “World’s Best Farmer’s Market”, Pybus Farmer’s Market before heading back towards Seattle via Snoqualmie and after you’ve properly seen the Snoqualmie Falls.
If we’re feeling lucky, we should visit the Snoqualmie Resort and Casino and try our luck. They may even have a concert worth checking out!
Once we’ve returned to the hustle and bustle of the city, we’ll visit (in no particular order): Serafina, Cantinetta, Mamnoon, Salare, Communion, Canliss, Terra Plata, Pike Place Market, Alki Beach, Golden Gardens, and grab poke bowls from 45th Street Stop and Shop.
If we have any time or energy left, we should take one more boat ride to Tillicum Village…
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are so many characters that have played a role in my development, you couldn’t print them all! But if it weren’t for the love shown to me by Jake Uitti and Eva Walker, Kryse Martin, Direction By Design, Brendan Logan, Ari Fishman, Matt McAlman (and my family, of course) at critical points along the way, I can’t imagine where I’d be.
Jennifer Tucker, Sticks and Stones Photography Unika Noiel