The Mason jar on the steel table looks like it’s filled with honey — the contents are syrupy thick and amber in the fluorescent light. The liquid, however, is a much more precious kind of nectar: distillate extracted from cannabis. More specifically, it’s the key ingredient in this kitchen at Acres Cannabis by Curaleaf, a marijuana dispensary in the shadow of the Las Vegas Strip. While the space may bear some resemblance to the back of the house at a restaurant — employees in white coats, rows of baking racks — the main product here wasn’t widely available to the general public until 2017, when recreational marijuana became legal in Nevada.
“We treat them like expensive babies,” formulation supervisor Xavier Jackson says, cradling the jar of distillate, which will be used to produce cannabis gummies. Jackson has a restaurant background, and believes that some sort of culinary education is a must in this kitchen. After graduating from culinary school in 2016, he worked at several restaurants in Las Vegas, including Tao Asian Bistro at the Venetian on the Strip.
“I thought I was making the right move, but it just wasn’t right,” he says of working in bustling Las Vegas restaurants. “I’m a very quiet person, so it’s not my style.”
He ended up in the decidedly more peaceful environment at Acres Cannabis by Curaleaf, where the open-view kitchen looks partially like that of a commercial restaurant and a little bit like a lab, with computers and beakers.
“Everything we do here is just cooking with an extra ingredient,” says formulation lead Dylan Eldridge, who also has a culinary background, including stints at the Bellagio and Sugar Factory. The time spent working in restaurants translates to a focus on the taste of the gummies the kitchen produces