A Free-Floating Power

in Culture

With a calm, collected demeanor, Solomon Johnson has a presence that lets you know he’s ready for the next challenge. When we meet at a cafe in Berkeley, California, Johnson is readying to open a restaurant within his home state of Maryland. He’s just returned from a charity event in Savannah, Georgia, that raised funds for No Kid Hungry—an organization that aims to end childhood hunger in the U.S.—and is on the heels of hosting a six-course CBD-infused meal in Napa Valley the prior week. As a chef working his way through a global health pandemic that decimated the livelihood of those working in the restaurant industry, Johnson has learned how to pivot. After the pandemic pushed him out of his first salary-based position in a kitchen, Johnson jumped on an opportunity to be featured on Chopped 420, a cannabis cooking competition on Discovery+. His restaurant endeavors in Oakland, California, and his success on the show, led him to become the chef for a cannabis-infused dinner series. Still, he assures me he’s not a “cannabis chef,” but rather a “chef who really loves weed.”

“Like any other ingredient in my pantry that I nerd out about, I do research,” Johnson says. “If I want to learn how to use certain food products to create something that people enjoy, I have to do my due diligence. It’s just about studying and experimenting. You know, getting your hands dirty.”

Johnson says his mom planted and watered the seed for him to become a chef. His parents also had a hand in his beginnings with cannabis as he grew up around weed and stole his first joint from his dad.

“The smell of [cannabis] reminds me of home,” he says. 

Photo by Cynthia Glassell Photography

Johnson was …

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Author: Ellen Holland / High Times

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