Cannabis News

Listen to the first episode of Pot Luck Club hosted by Ophelia Chong.

Pot Luck Club is a new podcast presented by the The Bluntness and Asian Americans for Cannabis Education.

Join host Ophelia Chong for fun conversations in the world of cannabis, creativity, and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

In this first episode, Ophelia brings together two amazing people Chef Wendy Zeng (Chopped 420, Drizzle Catering) and creative designer Jayson Won (Apple, Puffco).

Below, you can find the audio and a full transcript.

Ophelia Chong  00:00

I’m podcasting from The Bluntness, and I am so appreciative of my Bluntness cast hosts, Sara, Harrison, Gregory and Luke and my name is Ophelia Chong. I founded Asian Americans for Cannabis Education in 2015 because when I entered a room, I saw a lot of marshmallows in the cannabis space, but no raisins that look like me. So, I started AACE to help my people learn more about cannabis and to get into an industry. Since 2015, we exploded into this space, and two of my favorite people in the Asian American Pacific Islander space who are in cannabis, are on my first show. Not only because they’re amazing, I love them, but they’re really interesting, which is what we need for podcasts, right? So, Potluck is what I began last year as a physical gathering of all the Asian Americans in cannabis in the States. AACE is the home site of that and potluck grew out of that. Now, thanks to The Bluntness, we have a podcast called Potluck. Today, I have two beautiful, beautiful diverse people. I have Wendy Zang, of Chopped 420. Is it Chopped 420? And I have Jayson Won, of many, many, many other things. I wish I was his doppelganger, I would be so much smarter and nicer. He is someone I aspire to, and I am so lucky to have both of these two as my friends. Today is our first podcast and we’re going to start this in May, which is Asian Americans Pacific Islander month. These people are always checkmarks for this month. I would like to now introduce you to Wendy. Wendy, give us a little three-minute bio of yourself.

Wendy Zeng  02:11

Hi, everyone. Thanks so much for having me on, Ophelia. Always a good time chatting with you and Jayson. For those out there, I’m Wendy, I am a chef here locally in LA and I specialize in cannabis cooking. Most recently, I was on Chopped 420, which is a cannabis spin off of the very long running popular show Chopped on Food Network. It’s one of the first big shows, really first network TV, that actually included cannabis. It was really, really cool to be invited to be on the show. I met some really great people. Back home in LA, I have a passion for growing food. My husband and I are actually working on building a farm-to-table away cannabis concept on our property here, ten minutes outside of downtown Los Angeles. The kind of food we grow is prepared for the farm-to-table concept. People will be able to come and do a tasting menu, very seasonally driven, because you know, it depends on what we grow in the garden. A lot of the stuff I grow tends to be these heirloom varietals that you don’t really get in the stores, or even sometimes farmers markets. I also try to highlight Asian herbs and veggies because a lot of the cuisine and the dishes that I cook is very much inspired by my Asian roots. So I always want to give a shout out to you know, the food that I grew up with and the food that I’m so passionate about. Thanks so much for having me on.

Ophelia Chong  03:59

Wow, I’m telling you, not only is she the cutest thing on two legs, she has hair I envy. But this woman just outshines everyone. We’ll get back into that, but let’s talk more about your garden and her property. I also want to talk about her favorite dishes, her sauces, and what she won Chopped 420 for. We’re gonna get into that because we all want to know. Now Jayson, oh my gosh, okay, this guy has had a million lives. Each one of them was built on the last life he had and now he is where he is. He’s a genius. Now, I don’t use that too easily for a lot of people. I’ll call them amazing, but very few I’ll call genius. Jayson is not only a genius in what he does, he’s also a genius in building networks. With the community and bringing people together. That is one of his greatest strengths. I’m so attracted to it because he does it because he has a heart. Just like Wendy, her heart is in feeding people not only their souls, but also their spirit. Jayson feeds us in the most fun places ever. I would like you, Jayson, now to give us a little bit about yourself. We’ll show people how much I adore you.

Jayson Won  05:25

Wow. Thank you Ophelia, for having me. This is great, I always love speaking with you. Yeah, that’s Wow, what an intro. How do I live up to that? Anyhow, I started my career as a professional musician, in my early teens. That was one life. From there, I went into the creative design field. Being a musician in my early teens, I dropped out of school. I think I went to three weeks of 10th grade and then I dropped out because I went on tour. So, I had no real life job experience, or any kind of schooling or education. I got a job as a janitor at an industrial design company, and worked my way up and became a designer and later on became a motion graphics designer. Then later on started my own creative agency and had that for almost 15 years. After that, I started working independently as a freelance creative, and most recently, I was head of creative at a company called Puffco, which is a cannabis tech company, and I was there for a little over two years. Recently, I left and started working independently now again. That’s kind of my story in a nutshell.

Ophelia Chong  06:45

That story is amazing. We can’t cover it in half an hour, but there’s a couple of stories I want to talk to you about because I really feel that the creatives, we are needed. Usually when you downsize, we’re the first ones that go, but then they realized what was holding the company together? It was ideas and people who can carry those ideas through. Because they’re creative. So, the value of creativity is dropping every day as we go, there’s a billion images uploaded to Instagram, billions of videos every day. That takes away from people who are true creatives, because they learn the skills, they learn how to create things. Someone now says, “I can take a photo of my iPhone.” However, people like Wendy and Jayson being creatives, bring joy to our lives. We need to appreciate these people every day, because everything you’re touching, seeing, tasting came from someone who was creative. It didn’t come from the CEO. It didn’t come from the COO. It came from the creative. So what I want to ask you, Jayson, on that point, can you tell us the story of the Budsy and how you got to the Cupsy.

Jayson Won  08:05

So those are products, we’re an idea produced by our team at Puffco. This is how a good company runs and works is by empowering their staff and their employees to step out of their comfort zone. Not fit into this neatly created box, but give them the opportunity, the strength, the encouragement, and the confidence to step out of it. The product team had an idea. They wanted the IDA and the CEO of the company to carry out their pitch or their idea and give them the green light and the funding to be able to R&D, the product. To really finesse it, go through the right steps and the procedures so that the execution could be at the highest level possible. It was just a product that the product team thought would be fun, but also be something that Puffco has never done before. We are a consumer electronics company by trade. We didn’t get into creating analog products. It was an area that we felt like our customers would appreciate us coming out with. If we executed it in the right way. that would be something valuable to our whole product ecosystem. I think,the Cupsy and Budsy cups, Cupsy just came out this week. We’ve been working on it for a really long time. You know, the time that we took to really kind of fine tune it and make sure that we cover not only safety, but just the user experience with the product, it has a great kind of curb appeal in the sense that it’s a fun recognizable product, but innovated in a way where it serves the community that we serve. That was a fun project, it took a lot of work from our product team to really kind of do the R&D and the research to make sure that we’re creating a product that is safe, number one, and number two, something that’s of value to our customer base.

Ophelia Chong  10:04

It’s hilarious because it’s basically a water bottle. When I first saw it, you didn’t even tell me it was coming out. When I saw it on April Fool’s Day, I kept looking at it on Instagram. I said, No, this can’t be it. What I saw was a water bottle bong. How and where did that come from? I mean, where did you pull that out of?

Jayson Won  10:35

I think it was one of our product team, his name was Dane. He’s a very outdoorsy guy, he goes hiking, he goes surfing, he goes bike riding; he does a lot of activities outdoors. I think it was out of his necessity of wanting to consume in a certain way, and a product not being available on the market to serve that need. He came up with idea, I believe, and presented to the product team, the product team, kind of roughly put it together and then presented to our CEO, and our CEO liked the idea and had some concerns, but liked the idea and decided to, you know, give the product team the green light to move forward with it. And the release for doing it on April Fool’s was, I think, a really fun way to introduce a product, create some controversy within our own customer base, to ask the question, is this real? Are they playing a trick? No, Puffco would never make a product like that. Whatever it was, it created enough dialogue to give the product some hype. It was a very successful product due to a lot of things coming together. Every successful product launch or any successful project, it’s not one person that can take credit for it. It’s really an effort of love, passion, and dedication from all the groups. All of that coming together into one product is very unique. I think Puffco does a great job of bringing all the great creative and talented minds together. To be able to work together and really create that, you know, that meaningful product.

Ophelia Chong  12:13

Jayson, you have one of the biggest hearts there as well. I’m going to come back to Wendy now. Since we’re talking about love and passion. The amazing two combinations that make us wake up every day. Either we have it or we’re looking for it. Wendy, you live in a home of love and passion with your husband. Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re building there? But also I want to hear what was the dish that you won for Chopped 420? Let’s start there. Then let’s talk about the passion project you have going.

Wendy Zeng  12:53

Sure. So in Chop 420, we basically had to cook three different dishes. An appetizer, a main course, and a dessert round. You know people always ask me is it for real? Do you really not have any time between opening the box and knowing what it is? Do you know ahead of time what the secret ingredients are? It’s all real, like you basically open up the box, you go, and you have 30 minutes to create a dish from whatever secret ingredients in the box. Before our round, because it’s cannabis, we also had this really fun little room called the greenhouse, it’s shaped like an outdoor greenhouse. Instead of having, you know, different kinds of veggies growing in there, they had weed, they had cannabis and cannabis products. Everything from sesame oils, to Sriracha, to honey, to sugars, and all different kinds of tinctures. So it was super fun to be able to play with all of those things, and create these dishes. Actually, this year when we did a reunion dinner where I collabed with some of the winners and friends that I made from Chopped 420. We got to recreate the dishes that we did on the show, but this time you know with obviously a lot more lead time and a lot more thought. So that was cool, you know, kind of a little redemption. For the first course, I did a tostada with spot prawns. I love doing crudos and raw fish. It’s just so nice to pair really really good raw seafood with whatever is seasonal at the time. You know, so like in the summers, I love doing a fruity tropical and herby type of crudo. So, I did a ceviche and I also used my Chili Party, which is my hot sauce that I sell. I made an infused version for the show. My chili sauce had szechuan peppercorn and some chilies and all kinds of aromatics infused into the oil. It really didn’t taste like cannabis at all. In fact, it kind of played off of the flavor and the terpenes. I used Cherry AK and it was just so tasty. All the fruitiness came together to really accentuate the flavors. Then I made tacos, three ways for dinner. It was funny because my friend on the show, she did one taco and she looked at me, like, damn, you really just made three tacos. For the dessert round, I made a Neapolitan Napoleon, which is a strawberry, vanilla, cookies and cream, and chocolate layered puff pastry dessert. Everything was like very, very flavor packed, and a dose of fun, which is how I would describe my food. I love big, loud, beautiful flavors. I have a pretty wild personality. I really want that to come through in my food as well, with lots of bright colors. The show was really, really fun. It was an intense, very high pressure environment. Just lots of stress. I really tried to remind myself to have fun. I think growing up as an immigrant in this country, you’re always told, “hey, you gotta work twice as hard.” We kind of get caught up in just doing a good job and working. It’s always about being the best and perfectionism. You get caught up and you forget to have fun. Going on the show, that was a big commitment I made to myself, that I gotta have fun. I think that is when I am at the most flow with my creativity. That’s what helped me win, too. It was actually super fun. It went from a stressful environment to you know, something that was really, really fun and enjoyable.

Ophelia Chong  17:15

Well, that’s a type-A Asian personality right there. You don’t do one taco, you do three tacos. It’s sort of the Asian the, you know, it’s what was it? Oh my god it’s from Kingpin or whatever the guy was Woody Harrelson was visiting the Amish. They have a saying that is like not one thing, we do all of it, right? I have to dig up that quote in my head later, but what you’re doing is amazing. However, I just want to hear a little bit about what you’re building out there.

Wendy Zeng  17:51

Oh, my gosh, it is so much fun. With this project, what we’re building, it’s definitely taken longer than I expect it as you know, most things do. I always expect them to be done like yesterday, but, you just got to enjoy the journey. We basically set up this big urban garden space. I really wanted to do it in the middle of Los Angeles and an urban environment so that when people come into our space they feel really transported to a totally different space. A space that really makes you think, “Oh, man, am I still in LA?” We’re growing our own cannabis. I work with one of my buddies, Willie, who helps me. He hooks me up with all the new genetics that are coming out. I’m currently growing Root Beer and some Garlic strains. In past seasons, I did a lot of tropical strains, because I just love a tropical vibe. It’s been cool to collaborate with my friends on, this is the kind of dishes I want to make, these are the terpene profiles I want, can you find or breed some genetics that have these. Then they’re growing alongside all of our veggies and herbs. When people come and dine, they eat what’s in front of them, they’re literally sitting next to that veggie growing next to them. Next to that, they’re seeing the cannabis growing next to it. It really just forms these new associations and new visuals of how people see cannabis. It is just another thing that’s growing in the garden that shares terpenes and pollens with everything else. It’s a beautiful thing.

Ophelia Chong  19:47

You are yard-to-table and what you’re doing is what all our favorite chefs are doing. It is really trying to educate the diner as to where their food comes from. Say French Laundry or else, it’s teaching the public to respect the farmer. And also really appreciate the flavor and taste of something that’s been grown specifically for this meal, right? You go to Ralph’s, you get a tomato, taste it, there’s no flavor. If you learn where that tomato came from, you would have so much respect for it, and it would add flavor to it. We’re coming near the end of our podcast. I’m going to be asking you stupid questions. Both of you might have something to do with cannabis, they might not, all right? This question is for both of you. Since Wendy, you are on, here’s your question, for you and Jayson. You’re feeding your family, where do you hide the infusion in which dish? You’re basically feeding your family cannabis but you’re gonna hide it. So what are you gonna put it in?

Wendy Zeng  21:08

Chimichurri, chimichurri sauce over steak with a side of red wine. No one will know.

Ophelia Chong  21:16

Ah, well I’m coming over. Jayson, you may not cook, but if you were going to infuse something to feed your family, what would it be?

Jayson Won  21:24

Wow. I think it would be, huh, that’s a great question. I’d say I put it in kimchi. Since I’m Korean and kimchi is such a powerful flavor. It would hide anything and everything.

Ophelia Chong  21:37

Ah, I know we can bring good health too, and possibly better sleep to our grannies with that. I’m telling you like, oh my god, Jayson has come to you’re giving me I had the best sleep. I don’t know why. But I’m eating it at night too. We can do that. Oh, and the next question. Here we have this one kind of is more skewed to Jayson, because of your experience at Apple. The first question was more Wendy. All right. This is not a weed question for both of you. If your phone could do one more task, what would it be? And it can’t be in an app. Think out of the box here. Jayson, what would your phone do if it’s not an app?

Jayson Won  22:23

Wow. But it’s not an app? Yeah, there’s, wow, that’s a great question. That’s a hard one, Ophelia.

Ophelia Chong  22:38

Okay, here’s what I would do with it. ([Jayson]What would you do with it?) I would get a USB, well, what it is a lightning cord? Right? Put it onto a USB and into a bong to charge it. Or, I would get, and have a USB charger to attach to a coffee maker, and make coffee. That’s just one way of looking at the phone. There’s other things you can do on the phone. Wendy, can you answer this one? Jayson is still spinning here.

Wendy Zeng  23:10

I mean, I don’t know how realistic this is. It would be awesome to scan like some type of food and get the dosage. You know, like, be able to scan anything and get the dosage of it.

Ophelia Chong  23:26

Actually, it would be better for dating. You can scan someone’s picture and see if they’re toxic. It’s like, you know, green for good, yellow for proceed with caution, and birth control. Red would be just like run or something like that. Okay, last stupid question is, maybe it’s not so stupid. How would we sell this cannabis to our own people in a way that they would understand? Wendy?

Wendy Zeng  24:04

I think it needs to be a wellness space. Through different kinds of herb blends, maybe through tea blends. I think in our culture and Asian culture there’s a huge wellness aspect especially as you’re aging, everyone wants to really take care of themselves in this holistic health way. I think it’s looking at all the different applications people are currently using for those kinds of care. My mind immediately went to like tea because it’s just a good way to blend a lot of stuff together. Then that way, you can add other adaptogens and other really good for you or your body kind of blends, which makes it a little bit less intimidating. It really helps to reframe because there’s already such a stigmatized association through all the propagandas. It’s really just about reframing wellness for the Asian community.

Ophelia Chong  25:15

No, I like that. So Jayson, have you come up with something your phone could do besides throwing it at somebody and hitting them?

Jayson Won  25:22

You know, to be honest with you, Ophelia. I think the phone does too much already, I think it takes away from our humanity, it keeps adding features, and providing things that we think are useful. But in the end, I think there are more human interactions and human kind of tendencies that are more valuable than the convenience of an app, or just having everything at your fingertips. I think sometimes it’s worth waiting for a meal that’s cooked with love, and with care, rather than getting it through a drive thru window in less than five minutes. So I think, to me, the phone is a great tool. But I think that we have to not forget about our humanity and and live in a technology world, full of technology, but also, keep our humanity. If that makes sense.

Ophelia Chong  26:15

No, it does. The thing was keeping our humanity means walking away from the need to have likes. All right, yeah. Be attached to the validation of this little thing that tells us that we are good, right? It really isn’t. You’re right, it’s being in our community. With Wendy, with you, and our community. It’s about being together and that we bring value in life, our own lives, and love.

Jayson Won  26:44

One hundred percent, one hundred percent.

Ophelia Chong  26:47

I mean, that was really beautiful. Jayson, thank you for that. With that, we’re going to wrap it up. Wendy, where can people find you?

Wendy Zeng  26:59

People can find me on my website, You can also find me on Instagram @wenyerhungry

Ophelia Chong  27:14

Wow. Jayson?

Jayson Won  27:18

Yeah, I’m not really that active. But you can find me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, all just under @jaysonwon. How it’s spelt. The last name is Won, and the first name is Jayson. I’m on all my socials with my real name, so that I can be accountable for everything.

Ophelia Chong  27:39

Also on his social, you can see some pictures of him when he was in his big hair band days. I mean, he’s gorgeous now.  But holy cow, you go back to his Instagram, you see some of those pictures from his band days. It’s like what? You just basically start deep panting. I’m so happy to have both of you on our show, on the first one. Thank you so much. Thank you to The Bluntness to Harrison, Sara, Luke, and Gregory. You can find me at Asian Americans for Cannabis Education, AACE, and my Instagram is @opheliaswims. That’s a personal one, but you can always check me out there. If you try and find me, and I’ll let you in. Thank you so much for everything. A big shout out to all the Asian Pacific Islanders in the cannabis space. Thank you for coming in. Thank you for trusting plant medicine. This is what it is, it’s not a drug. So thank you, everyone, thank you. 

Jayson Won

Thank you, Ophelia.

Wendy Zeng  28:51

Thank you.

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