Joining us on this episode of The Healthy Menu podcast is a cannabis writer, chef, and founder of Feels Like More, Jennifer Blakney.
Feels Like More has been active for over four years and was built from the ground up by Jennifer, who managed the entire process from recipe development, to production and marketing. She’s also been featured on Radio-Canada and in High Times magazine.
Jennifer will be discussing cannabis edibles within the foodservice industry, what hurdles she faced developing the Feels Like More Co and what the recent legalization of cannabis edibles means for her and her business.
Find Jennifer Blakney online:
- Website: www.jenniferblakney.com/
Light Transcript of Interview
K: So as we heard in the introduction, you’re a cannabis writer, a chef and founder of a company, do you want to tell us more about that?
J: So my company is called Feels Like More, which was founded in 2015 after I wasn’t able to find edibles on the unregulated market any longer. I was buying cookies and rice Krispies squares and realized with my pastry skills I could easily make these items by myself. I had an interesting experience when I attempted to create cannabutter and put it into cookies and fudge. It wasn’t that negative of an experience that it made me not want to try it again. I kept refining the recipe with the help of my friends’ and family’s feedback. I wanted to make items more elevated because there were other people already making these. I wanted to stand out from the crowd in an unregulated market so I looked to my Cordon Bleu training, which involved a lot of traditional French techniques; a lot of meringues, mousses but what really drew me was the French Macaron, which became my flagship product.
K: You mentioned trying to stand out in an unregulated market. How did you manage to start something – what difficulties were involved with that?
J: There are a lot of difficulties because you can only promote yourself so much. What you’re doing is illegal and you can’t market yourself, you can’t go to investors, you can’t start to build your business in the traditional ways that everybody else is accustomed to.
K: In talking about the new regulations that recently came into effect, now that edibles are legal to purchase, how does that affect Feels Like More and everything under L’ Avenue Greene (holding company)?
J: As it stands, Health Canada only allows edibles that are ‘shelf-stable’. Every product I have developed has required a fridge or a freezer. Because I’ve had to go back to square one with the lack of refrigeration and freezer options, my perspective is more “how can I make my items more accessible?”
K: I think in many ways it’s very much trying to see what the bugs are in the whole process so you can refine yours and see what works for everybody else before you can jump in. I suppose that it must be really tough to see the cannabis industry progress in a certain way but nobody knows which way to turn because like you said there’s so little information when it comes to maintaining your business or transitioning. Is there information about future plans in terms of non-shelved products?
J: Nothing yet, there’s been no change to the shelf-stable rule because they’ve literally just rolled out the products so I think they’re probably going to wait a year before they even consider that. What I find a barrier is the lack of integration into the hospitality industry because as it stands, alcohol laws do not permit alcohol and cannabis to be served at the same establishment.
K: We’ve established there are a lot of hurdles to jump over when it comes to edibles and the foodservice business in general. How do you see the next few years going – not just for yourself – but the foodservice industry in general when it relates to cannabis?
J: I don’t know what Health Canada will allow but what I’d like to see and what I think might be realistic is if there were dedicated nights where, say, if a restaurant had a tasting menu that was lightly infused. There are events that already happen but I would like to see them in more public arenas.