Payton Curry’s cannabis quest began curled up on the bathroom floor in front of his toilet.
He had blown a .44 on a breathalyzer and spent two days in Coconino County Jail. He said he’d been so used to alcohol that the officers didn’t even know he was drunk until they smelled his breath.
“When I go to the grocery store,” he said, “I apologize to alcohol for giving it a bad name.”
While detoxing in front of his toilet, Curry said he couldn’t keep food down. He was having seizures in his sleep because his blood sugar “was not in a happy place.”
He had an epiphany. He’d been using Rick Simpson Oil in his cooking to help treat children’s seizures for years. He said he put some under his gums and could eat 20 minutes later.
He describes it as mind, body, and spirit coming together.
Curry founded Flourish edibles in 2016 in Williams, Arizona, catering not only to 50 dispensaries in Arizona and California, but to families who choose to treat their children’s illnesses with cannabis. Two more “kitchen and lab” facilities followed in the San Francisco Bay area.
Curry’s been around food his whole life. At 14, he washed dishes at a small restaurant in his hometown of Rochester, Minnesota.
From the back of the kitchen, he absorbed the Midwesterner’s relationship with food. He’d watch the food chefs put out and the empty plates that returned, gleaning that people valued food more when it made them feel “stuffed.”
He’d watch farmers who grew some of the most nutrient-dense vegetables he’d ever seen struggle to sell their food because it was too expensive. He couldn’t believe “wellness wasn’t affordable.”
“I saw how expensive it was to eat wrong,” he said, “because I grew up in the Midwest where people were fat and dying.”
Before Flourish, Curry cooked in several restaurants around California. Then, 12 years ago, he moved to Phoenix and worked in restaurants like Digestif and Caffe Boa.
Phoenix New Times interviewed him in 2012 when he was chef and co-owner of Brat Haus in Scottsdale, and again in 2014 after he outed a local food reviewer by tweeting her photo following an article critical of another of his restaurants, Taco Haus.
Curry’s perspective and knowledge of nutrition comes from an intersection of a formal education at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, Western medicine influence from his parents, and experience in the cannabis industry.
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Instead of the processed sugars found in most foods, Curry will use beets, “the most natural sugar your body can ever process.”
He uses locally sourced dates in Flourish’s flagship date brownies, which New Times awarded Best Medical-Marijuana Edible in 2017. Dates increase the rate at which your body absorbs cannabinoids, he said.
Now, he shares his culinary philosophy and taste with some of the families he feels he can help the most. For Curry, Flourish is about leaving something more in this world than consumption.
“I didn’t build it to be rich,” he said. “I built it to be happy, and flourish here.”