Chef Tavis Petersen Tours the U.S. Serving Infused Dinners at Luxury Air BnBs
Travis Petersen was a long-time professional in the oil and gas industry when his love of the culinary arts led him to sign up for a show called Masterchef Canada. He appeared in two episodes in 2016.
“I had fun with that,” he said.
Around that time, oil and gas hit a recession, and Petersen was laid off from his job. However, he received a severance package that allowed him to kick off a new career in cooking. He began doing chef popups, cooking lessons and meal prepping until October 2018, when his home country of Canada federally legalized cannabis for recreational use.
That’s when Petersen hosted his first cannabis-infused pop-up dinner. He converted his house into a restaurant and served 150 people in four days. Since then, Petersen has served more than 15,000 people their first cannabis-infused meal, with 900 of those guests being first-time cannabis users.
“A dinner party is a perfect introduction for people,” Petersen said. “If you were ever going to try cannabis, our dinner parties are the best way.”
Safety is paramount to Petersen, and guests are dosed individually based on their tolerance level.
“We don’t want to give people too much or not enough,” he said. “It’s about hitting that perfect medium and utilizing the terpenes to mold the experience they’re about to have. Everything is full spectrum, so we’re not using isolates.”
Launching Nomadic Nights in The US
In 2021, Petersen relocated to Arizona, where he launched his latest business endeavor — Nomadic Nights. He travels around the U.S. hosting infused popup dinners in 29 cities where recreational cannabis use is legal.
“I rent luxury Air BnBs and turn them into little popup restaurants,” he said. “It provides a dinner party experience for all the guests.”
Guests have been known to enjoy menu items like 72-hour short ribs with a miso glaze and infused kimchi, or a mini croissant dessert cereal with infused matcha milk.
“What’s really cool is we’ll have anywhere from 20 to 40 people at the dinners, and they’re all strangers sitting around the table,” Petersen said. “Looking at them, one might think, ‘Oh, those people have nothing in common.’ But at the end of the night, they’re exchanging numbers, they’re friends, and they’re planning to see each other again.”
Petersen said that although he didn’t originally set out to be a cannabis chef, watching these special connections unfold is what inspired him to take the idea full-time. He even published a cookbook titled “Introduction to Culinary Cannabis” that is available for purchase at www.thenomadcook.com/shop.
“I thought this was going to be a niche fad,” he said. “The average age of my guests is 39, and they are 60% female. I couldn’t have been any more wrong about what the clientele was going to be, and that this is an actual cuisine that is here to stay.”
A Dedication to Safety
In 2020, Petersen launched the first recognized Culinary Cannabis Certificate for Safety and Responsibility in Canada, which he said received a great deal of positive media attention.
According to Petersen, people too often Google, “How do I make weed brownies?” Then, they make recipes that do not provide the correct dosing information, which can lead to bad experiences.
Properly dosing cannabis-infused dishes is an art Petersen hopes to share with others. This year, he is turning his certification course into an online master class that will launch on April 20. Through it, he will teach the methods, equipment and fundamentals necessary to serve infused meals safely and responsibly.
“The ultimate goal of what I’m trying to achieve is that I want the next generation of chefs to be able to do this in a restaurant,” he said.
Last year, Nomadic Nights hosted 102 dinners in 11 months, and their calendar is filling up for 2024 as well. All dates and locations are announced on Petersen’s Instagram, @the_nomadcook.
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