When life presents Emily Oyer with a hypothetical fish head, fiddlehead and Twinkie, the local chef crafts a poaching liquid out of the aquatic creature, treats the plant like curled asparagus and deep fries the sponge treat (sans creamy filling) to create a taco shell of sorts.
In the spirit of the TV show, “Chopped” — but make it 420-specific — Oyer will star next week in the Food Network’s first-ever cannabis cooking competition.
“It’s ironic to me that the age-old saying is, ‘A woman’s job is in the kitchen,’ but anytime you look for an executive chef, it’s immediately a [male],” said Oyer, who is the executive chef at Jimmy’s American Restaurant and Bar, in an interview Tuesday.
The budding chef is helping pave the way in the culinary arts — cannabis and otherwise — not only for women, but also for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Oyer, who identifies as gay, is an advocate for mental health, as well as marijuana and its medicinal properties.
Called “Chopped 420,” the American, “reality-based” cooking show boasts the same concept as the original version, but with the addition of cannabis, according to Oyer. The chefs must create dishes using mystery ingredients and compete against each other for a $10,000 cash prize and bragging rights.
“Chopped 420” will debut and be available to stream on Discovery Plus next Tuesday (April 20).
While Oyer cannot disclose whether she won, “I can say I did really well,” she offered. The 29-year-old called the show a “leap” in the right direction for the cannabis community.
Oyer’s first exposure to the marriage of marijuana and sustenance, like many, was via “poorly made” pot brownies as a teen. She is hopeful that “Chopped 420” viewers realize that sprinkling bits of weed into brownie batter is not reflective of cannabis cooking.
Creating elevated cuisine, however, is approachable — a teachable moment Oyer hopes inquiring minds will take away from the show. Her two most recent cannabis-infused dishes, for instance, were freshly baked lemon blueberry bars and scratch-made chicken and cheese enchiladas. In both cases, Oyer simply subbed a traditional butter or oil with a canna-oil. That said, a level of science — namely, decarboxylation — is also involved as part of the process.
A native of Virginia Beach, Oyer started incorporating cannabis into her creations as soon as she moved to Aspen in 2019. Coming from a place where marijuana is illegal, being able to pick between all sorts of strains and flavors — as opposed to whatever was available below the radar — was a dream, she said. Euphoric, one may say.
Jimmy Yeager, who brought Oyer on last June, said Tuesday, “regardless of her prowess in the 420 world,” she is as talented in the kitchen of his namesake restaurant, one of Aspen’s longest-running establishments.
“We think the world of her,” he said. “And we think Jimmy’s is a better place because of her.”