Pastry chef and chemist combine their talents on cannabis edibles

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Chicago’s award-winning pastry chef Mindy Segal can be considered a modern-day David, using a slingshot loaded with THC-infused edibles to slay the Goliath that is the pain and discomfort of a list of ailments, including cancer and multiple sclerosis… to name a few.

Segal’s first confrontation with a Goliath began when his father was diagnosed with cancer. Segal and her brother sprang into action, finding ways to boost their father’s appetite and ease his pain, she said, by finding marijuana products.

Since marijuana became legal in Illinois in January 2020, she’s been using her talent to create edibles by working hand-in-hand with a chemist like Cresco Labs’ Stephanie Goreski.

“I don’t have a personal agenda, I’m selfless,” Segal said, while emphasizing the importance of his team’s work in helping clients who are suffering. “I love it when they come up to me and talk about how our erasers have changed their lives.”

Goreski, a Chicago native, joined Cresco Labs in 2019 and rose to the rank of vice president of product development. His academic background includes a Masters in Food Science and Human Nutrition from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Northern Illinois University. She and Segal are part of a group that works to sample the creations, making sure the dosage is precise and the flavors are consistent.

The industry standard for edibles is 10 milligrams of THC per sample, and Segal’s best advice for newcomers is to “start low and slow,” before diving in. “Cresco offers micro-doses of 1 to 5 milligrams per edible,” she said.

Segal and Goreski emphasized the importance of changing the public perception of marijuana from “devil’s cabbage” to a natural alternative to pharmaceuticals.

“We are working hard to explore the range of what is available to build trust with our customers,” Goreski said. “Our goal is to be a strong partner in the medical market. Edibles are a great alternative, you can’t deny that.

Many negative feelings about marijuana bloomed in the older generation when young people started experimenting with different types of drugs. But now, marijuana is starting to be reimagined as a source of tax revenue with the calming properties and pain relief it provides when used correctly.

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Yet the biggest part of Cresco’s success is the taste of the products. Chef Segal has worked with them for a long time to master the variety of flavors which includes glazed clementine orange, fresh lime kiwi and lush black cherry. She’s also the owner of Mindy’s Bakery in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood and James Beard Award-winning chef, as well as the culinary muscle behind Cresco Labs.

Chef Mindy Segal's edible gummies.

“It really is a dream job. I took a risk to do it and I’m very proud of it and stand by it,” Segal said of the products that also bear his name.

Whenever Cresco wants to introduce a new category to its lineup, the team discusses food and flavors, then taste tests with and without cannabis. The storage stability of the products is also determined.

“I would never be able to do this on my own,” Segal explained. “It’s do or die, and we take what we do seriously.”

The Cresco team have introduced renditions of chocolates and crunchies to their edibles market and are currently working on a sweet THC tart, Goreski revealed.

Recipes are also included online for the four seasons and holidays, along with a list of dispensaries that carry Mindy’s creations, which you must be 21 to legally buy.

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