By Devin D. O'Leary
"I've always been really passionate about cannabis," says Chef Dmitri Eleftheriou from his gleaming kitchen in Albuquerque's industrial district. "So I want to transfer that passion into medicine for people." To those ends, Eleftheriou has launched Heidi's Edibles, an Albuquerque-based THC food brand combining high-quality local extracts and organic ingredients. By adding his tasty, well-made edibles to the local market, Chef Dmitri hopes to enhance "the experience people get from the medicinal side of the experience and from the culinary side of the experience. We think that you can do the two really, really well."
Eleftheriou, after all, comes from a cooking background. He spent 10 years as a chef in San Francisco. But his roots are in New Mexico. Seven years ago he returned to work with his mother. Heidi's Raspberry Farm is the well-known of Eleftheriou's mother. Located out in Corrales, the family's organic farm was started by Heidi Eleftheriou over 20 years ago. Over those decades Heidi has received numerous awards, including “Organic Farmer of the Year” from the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, and has been recognized as a "Local Hero" multiple times by Edible New Mexico. The farm is best known for the food products it manufactures, including its famed Organic Raspberry Jam which has been awarded “Best Food Product Made Locally” by Albuquerque The Magazine four years running.
"We started in farmer's markets and now we've progressed into being in over 45 Whole Foods stores," says Eleftheriou, who considers his family "lucky enough to have a brand that's one of our state's sweetheart brands. We're really proud about that."
Since returning to New Mexico, Eleftheriou says, "Learning the business has been my main thing. And now that I understand more of it, now is the time for us to expand and look into new realms. So one of the realms we've always talked about was cannabis. When it was in the medical side of things, we were a little unsure. When it started going toward recreational, that's when we kinda stuck our feet in the water and tested out everything." Though Chef Dmitri will be working with his mother's company, Heidi's Edibles is a "different business, different label, different brand."
"First and foremost," says Eleftheriou of his new business venture, "we're in the food business. And we want to have things taste good." Eleftheriou promises Heidi's Edibles will be "really high quality without any nasty preservatives. We believe in real food, real ingredients. No bullshit, that's what we're about."
Asked about what inspired the chef to cook up a line of locally made THC treats, he admits, "A lot of the products I have tasted, it's just such a high concentrate of sugar and just tastes artificial. There's some really good products out there, but I just wanna make something that I would like to enjoy a little bit more."
Having secured its THC license amid the rush of new businesses launched along with the recreational use of marijuana in New Mexico, Heidi's Edibles has spent the last few months perfecting its initial products. All cannabis products sold in New Mexico must be grown and manufactured within the state. So the extracts Eleftheriou uses, like the ingredients he cooks with, are local. "We have some really good contacts in the industry now for extracts, and so the quality of the extracts will match the quality of our ingredients. That's really important." Although the manufacturer hasn't solidified all of his retail clients, he says, "Hopefully, with our recognition already, people will be eager to pick us up." A THC jam and a THC ice cream from Heidi's are expected to hit the shelves of New Mexico dispensaries starting in February.
Aside from the initial THC-loaded jams and ice creams, Eleftheriou teases that "a lot more products that are gonna follow that. We've got some awesome ideas. We're working with some great pastry chefs, and chefs as well, who are involved in our R&D of Heidi's Edibles." Even though Eleftheriou is eager to test out new products, he isn't ditching his family's tried-and-true raspberry-based recipes. "We'll have raspberry everything: raspberry ice cream, raspberry gummies, raspberry jam. Along with a bunch of our new, fun flavors."
So far, the folks behind Heidi's Edibles are excited to be a part of New Mexico's recreational marijuana cannabis boom. "I think that everyone took really well to it," says Eleftheriou of the launch. "Looks like we had really high numbers for the first week having recreational. More than people thought. Which is wonderful. I think that there's a lot people getting into the industry, which is exciting. We're just happy to be part of it and part of the community. We want to shine in our own way and help others shine that we'll be working with. Because without the community, without each other, we don't have much."
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