Greetings Happy Munkey Fam,
This month Ramon And Vlad go straight to the boulevard with Miguel Trinidad, co-owner of the 99th floor and judge on Viceland’s Bong Appetit, to discuss cooking with cannabis and his start in high end cannabis dinning. We get a chance to find out some of his cooking inspirations from good old mama love and her specialties and his desire to open a Restaurant that highlights Dominican culture. He also tells us how he got onto Viceland and how to properly cook with weed without knocking out your dinner guests! We are honored and excited to share some of our conversation and hope you enjoy!
Q: What dishes inspired you growing up?
A: My mother, god bless her hands, her quintessential dish that brought everyone together was her bistec con arroz y habichuela (steak with rice and beans). That Dominican thinly sliced steak... that palomilla. It didn’t matter where the family was, if mom said she was making bistec, everyone made their way there. Growing up in the lower east side, the only Dominican restaurants that we had were Castillo de Agua, if any. I mean, you were having Dominican food but it still wasn’t your mom’s food, it was good but still wasn’t your mom’s food. I wanted to see the things my mom would make on special occasions, rabo guisado (ox tail stew), Lambi (conch), or when the family got together and there was a big pot of sancocho (stew) on the table, or mondongo (tripe). This was one of the reasons I wanted to create a platform where Dominicans can see things that we haven’t seen. If you go to a Dominican or Puerto Rican restaurant, you see the same menu with the steam tables. It’s delicious but when do you see the rabo guisado or your lambi?
Q:What was the thought process on starting 99th floor?
A: My partner Doug Cohen was working with Mel Peralta, who is also Dominican, they’ve been boys for a long time. They produce and they have a marketing company, they were doing a pilot with DJ Neil Armstrong, the tour DJ for Jay Z, where Neil would teach someone his craft in exchange for them teaching him theirs. So Neil approached me and asked if I would do it with him, so I was teaching him how to cook and he was teaching me to DJ. Me, Doug, and Mel met and we hit it off cause we’re all from New York, Mel being Dominican and Doug being from Queens, after that we said we should definitely do something together. Fast forward a few months later, I get a call from them asking “how do you feel about cooking with weed?” All I knew about cooking with weed was brownies and stuff as a kid, but I know food so I was like “yeah we can do something on another level.” We flew out to LA and met up with Bam, one of our friends out there who has won cannabis cups several times, he gave me a crash course on everything I needed to know. They then challenged me to do a dinner on that day. We found a spot, then the next day I went shopping and made a three course meal and it took off. It was great, everyone said positive things about it, so we came back to New York and said “how do we do this?” And that was the birth of 99th floor.
.Q:How did you go from 99th floor to bong appetite?
A: This happened through 99th floor, my partner Doug knows Chris Grosso, one of the producers of the show. Chris came to one of the dinners and he really enjoyed what he saw. I’m thinking “the dude is coming in and having dinner just like everybody else.” About a year later, I get a call from Chris and he invited me on the show as one of the guest chef, I cooked a dinner for them where I did this Filipino feast, you know cause my restaurants being Filipino at the time. I cooked, it was great, then about a year later I get a call like “ hey we’re doing season three, we want to know if you’re interested in coming on the show, and if you’d be interested in being a judge.” I asked when they wanted me, and they said the whole season. I was like “oh okay!” and I went out there to do the pilot.
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