Hemp: The Other Local Crop

Photos by Cat Mayer

Photos by Cat Mayer

Dinnerparty, located on South Fifth Street in Downtown Grand Junction, serves as a private event space and a commissary kitchen to support both Tacoparty and Bin707 Foodbar, but mostly as kind of an incubator space that allows our team to develop and test dishes and menus. 

Since opening in 2017, we have been hosting gatherings for groups of up to 50. For some of these events — like our recent Rare Beer dinner — we create the concept, market the event, and sell tickets. Others are tailor-made private events like holiday parties, birthdays, and business dinners.

When Colorado Hemp Solutions approached us to reserve the space for their annual holiday party, asking us to infuse their CBD products into the meal, it was a first for me. But it’s indicative of a much larger trend where both our state and our county are well ahead of the curve. Case in point: In a recent discussion among prominent chefs and food writers from around the state, CBD was jokingly brought up as the future of Colorado cuisine. 

While I think that’s a bit of a stretch, there is no denying that our region is one of the best places in the country to grow the hemp used to produce CBD, and the industry has been aided by the recent deregulation of hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill. More commonly used to make oils, salves, and gummies, we are now seeing CBD infused into coffee and cocktails, as the newly opened Pressed in Palisade is doing. 

CBD Dinnerparty_photo by Cat Mayer

Though I had no prior experience using or cooking with CBD, our Dinnerparty team saw a great opportunity to learn about and explore new techniques using it. We ultimately decided to create a six-course tasting menu for Colorado Hemp Solutions, infusing CBD oil and extracts into each course and using a different technique for each dish.

The event was a huge success. In another illustration of local collaboration, the hemp-inspired centerpieces created by Kelly Mendenhall of 3 Leaf Floral transformed the space into a one-of-a-kind themed dining event that will likely serve as an example for us for years to come.

But greater than the success of the night was the intersection of multiple agricultural industries, all of which prosper in Mesa County, into one seamless experience. My takeaway was how something easily viewed or written off as a novel idea could be transformed into something far greater than the sum of its parts. What we created that evening is an example of where agritourism is headed, and just how easy it is to create a decidedly (western) Colorado experience. 

This Colorado-grown, -sourced, and -inspired meal may very well be a vision into greater national trends we will begin to see in the next few years.

Though still in its infancy, I hope and believe we will see much more of this movement in the future, keeping our region ahead of the curve. This is what I mean when I say “The New West.” #thenewwest.

Josh NiernbergFood