Payton Curry is not your typical chef. Though classically trained, with experience in highbrow eateries around San Francisco, Napa Valley, Scottsdale, and beyond, he decided to take an alternate path years ago. His company, Flourish Cannabis, focuses on infusing food with cannabis, farm-to-table style.
The shift came after blowing a .44 on a breathalyzer in northern Arizona in 2011, then spending two days in jail as a consequence.
"I used it as an escape, to not be present," Curry says, referring to alcohol.
As he suffered through withdrawal symptoms like seizures and the inability to keep down food while detoxing from alcohol, a light bulb went off. Curry already had been teaching families how to make their own Rick Simpson Oil to treat conditions like epilepsy and autism in their children. It dawned on him that the concoction could help him through his detoxification as well.
"Within 30 minutes, I was eating, drinking liquids, holding it all down, and starting my mental progression up," he says. This is what Curry describes as his "a-ha" moment, which led him to establish Flourish Cannabis in 2016 out of a small kitchen in Williams.
His vision was to create an alternative to the traditional edibles market, one where ingredients were fresh and locally sourced. Flourish's date brownie features dates from Sphinx Date Ranch in Scottsdale. The honey for its "Honey in the Dank" comes from Baker's Honey in Mesa.
Dispensaries throughout Arizona, Nevada, and California currently sell Flourish's products. This includes Arizona-based Harvest Health, which recently acquired Verano Holdings for $850 million — reportedly the largest legal deal in U.S. cannabis history.
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His ability to think outside the box has served Curry well throughout his career. He created an all-rabbit menu on Easter at Caffe Boa in Tempe. He made charcuterie with meat from around the skull of an animal at the since-closed Digestif. Curry believes in total utilization, which he hopes to eventually achieve with cannabis, though state law presently dictates that much of the plant be thrown away.
"Once we get past the push and pull, the old versus the new mentality, we can convert it from reefer madness to reefer gladness," Curry says.
As he continues down his own path, Curry aspires to lift up others through what he calls plant-based spiritual health. To him, cannabis is not just a means to get high, it is a way to nourish the body.
Phoenix New Times also spoke with Curry last month, when he prepared a cannabis-infused dinner at Wasted Grain in Scottsdale for medical marijuana cardholders. He discussed how cooking with cannabis relies on precision and science, in complete opposition to the fast-paced frenzy of restaurant kitchens.
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Curry looks to his wife and two daughters (whom he lovingly calls green Curry) for inspiration. He hopes that they will grow up with an understanding of what the plant can do for the body, rather than being programmed by the society around them.
And if you're wondering whether he is a fan of Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, fear not. Our chef has an Adidas "Chef Curry" jersey in his closet, which is donned each time he watches the Warriors.
Our chef Curry will be cooking up some more cannabis-infused fare at Scottsdale's Wasted Grain for round two of their "Summer of Love" series from 5 to 11 p.m. on Tuesday, August 13. Tickets for medical marijuana card holders start at $40, and can be purchased via Eventbrite.