Playing for the home team is a source of pride for them as more and more out-of-towners are swooping in and capitalizing on D.C.’s freshly enacted marijuana laws. “This is home. I’ve lived in the D.C. metro area my entire life,” Leis says. “We’re not coming from across the country, unfamiliar with the landscape.”
Harris, Leis and Brown seem suited to the task of navigating the city’s at-times hazy regulations on marijuana consumption. (“The language behind edibles is gray,” Harris says. “No one at [D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration] has an answer for me.”) Harris is a co-founder of the Cap Mac food truck, which she helped launch in 2010 — a time when the city’s nascent food truck laws were still a quagmire of unknowns. It’s how she met Leis, a co-founder of DC Empanadas who served on the board of directors for the DC, Maryland and Virginia Food Truck Association.
“It’s fun to be at the beginning of something and watch it grow,” Harris says. “You learn a lot of hard lessons for other people over and over again.”
Harris and Leis are joined by Brown, the celebrity chef and founder of CakeLove. Brown was at the forefront of D.C.’s cupcake obsession when he opened his bakery in 2002. He closed his last remaining shop at the end of last year to concentrate on his booming jarred cakes business, and came on board DC Taste Buds to help with recipe development and production.
“We’ve all been leaders in the markets emerging in D.C.,” Harris says. “Food trucks blew up, cupcakes blew up, so we’re thinking this will blow up.”
The three are tight-lipped about their products, which they hope to make available at medical marijuana dispensaries by summer. They hint that the first items will be sweet, with a savory line to follow soon after. All of the foods will be laced with marijuana sourced locally.
“There’s a big difference between someone not familiar with cooking and someone who knows the culinary industry,” Leis says. “I can sell you a pot brownie made using a mix, or I can sell you one that actually tastes good.”
Harris, Leis and Brown have been busy testing recipes, which is a softer way of saying eating a ton of edibles. Their friends have often been the ones to benefit. “I’ve been dosing all my friends as guinea pigs,” Harris says. “I’ll ask, ‘Are you around Monday?’ And they’re like, “Vic, I have things to do. I can’t be doing edibles.’ ”