Girl on Fire: An Interview with Monica Lo of Sous Weed

From learning photography in the photo pits of New York Fashion Week to elevating the state of cannabis cuisine, Monica Lo has an eye for opportunity

Growing up in a fairly conservative Asian household in Texas, Monica Lo was exposed to creativity in the kitchen at a young age. “My parents were immigrants and came here with very little money,” she says. “They would buy bulk, sale items and figure out clever ways to make the food delicious and last for the entire week.”

It’s clear that creativity runs in the family. Lo moved to New York City to study advertising art direction at Pratt Institute. “I wanted to be behind the camera, so I taught myself how to shoot by crashing New York Fashion Week with my janky little Canon Rebel,” Lo says. “It was a wild experience being in the pit with all these famous photographers. I learned a lot, real fast.”

Monica Lo of Sous Weed holds two drinks

Image Credit: Patrick Wong

Creative Director, Photographer, and Founder of Sous Weed - Monica Lo

Now, Lo is a creative director, photographer, and the founder of Sous Weed, an online culinary destination for the canna-curious and budding chefs alike. “At Sous Weed, we are dedicated to using cannabis as an ingredient, as opposed to merely a psychoactive additive,” the company website states. “Cannabis is a versatile, nutrient-dense vegetable, and we aim to treat it as a culinary challenge like any other.”

And research suggests Lo may be onto something. According to Arcview Market Research, California customers ate an estimated $180 million worth of edibles last year. And that number is expected to grow — by 25% annually. But if you’re imagining homemade brownies or cheap gummies when you think of cannabis-infused food, you’re in for a surprise.

brunch finger foods topped with herbs

Images courtesy of Monica Lo, Sous Weed

Brunch food topped with herbs. Polaroid of hands plating food next to dish.

Images courtesy of Monica Lo, Sous Weed

Lo’s work is much more Bon Appetit than a basement bong sesh. Recipes for Green Goddess Flatbread and Charred Tomato Gazpacho (both call for a simple drizzle of medicated olive oil) are elegant, unbelievably delicious, and a perfect example of how far cannabis culture has come.

“There are people who are sick of the typical pot brownie and are looking for healthy recipes,” says Lo. The Sous Weed method offers a solution.

Sous vide is a method of cooking in which food is typically placed in a vacuum-sealed pouch or glass jar and then placed in a water bath at a precisely regulated temperature. “The strategy is no different for Sous Weed,” Lo adds. “It’s a simple, discreet, hands-off way to infuse cannabis into food.”

She started using the sous vide method to discreetly make edibles in her apartment for pain management. Then she began documenting her creations on her blog and Instagram. It took off from there.

“Everyone who comes to the blog is curious about the Sous Weed method,” Lo says. “I get a lot of caretakers who need to make various cannabis oil infusions at once for their patients but can’t be tied to a stovetop. I also get people in strict apartments who can’t have the smell of cannabis wafting around.”

With the legalization of recreational cannabis in California, there’s no sign that demand is slowing anytime soon. “We saw a huge spike this January,” Lo says. “It was a wild month.”
Since the start of 2018, Sous Weed has been featured on “The Today Show,” “The Nightly News with Lester Holt,” MSNBC, and ABC7.

As cannabis continues to go mainstream, Lo believes education is key. “There’s a lot of stigma and misunderstanding around the subject of cannabis, and it’s been demonized for far too long,” she says. Her advice? “Learn about the plant. Get out and meet the members of our cannabis community.”

For those interested in taking their cannabis education further, Sous Weed is participating in a demo with The Herb Somm as part of their Thursday Infused dining series in April. Or if you’re more of a do-it-yourself type, you can always try Lo’s Pork Dumplings. They’re just like the ones she used to make with her parents, only medicated.

Go ahead. Get your creative juices flowing.

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Amy Winston • Contributor

Amy Winston is a freelance writer who specializes in advertising, filmmaking, and listening to strangers talk about their life stories. With a background in creative writing, she has spent nearly a decade stringing sentences together for the world’s most prestigious brands, including Samsung, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, Intel, and Google.