Contessa Godfrey, founder of C4 Confections in Geneva, loves to experiment in the kitchen. Her interest in cooking began as a child when she learned to bake pies for Christmas with her uncle.
Later, when her mom was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer, Contessa began infusing her food with cannabis. “One of her doctors recommended marijuana for her,” she said. “I saw what it could do to help her, and that’s when I became passionate about it.”
When New York legalized recreational marijuana, Contessa realized she could turn her affinity for food and cannabis into a business. During the pandemic, she enrolled in the cannabis cultivation program at Finger Lakes Community College and today sells a variety of baked goods and meals.
“Cheesecakes, Danishes, truffles, scones,” she lists. “Apple crisps, cherry crisps, cobblers, breads, muffins, cupcakes. I do many different types of cookies. I’ve got macaroni and cheese! I just love to cook. Anything that can be infused, I can cook it.”
Contessa’s dream is to open a restaurant selling marijuana-infused foods – a place where people can come to eat or smoke. “I just want people to have a safe place where they can chill, where they don’t have to worry about people whispering, because the stigma is still there,” she says.
Cannabis-infused dinners are hitting menus across the country, moving into the mainstream dining scene, reports market research firm Wunderman Thompson. Nashville’s first cannabis bar and restaurant is set to open in July 2022. Buds & Brews will serve elevated American dishes with THC-infused sauces that diners can add to their dishes with dosing spoons, as well as cannabis desserts and THC-infused drinks.
Since Wunderman Thompson first tracked the rise of the cannabis economy in 2018, marijuana and cannabis use has continued its evolution from alt-niche to mainstream. According to the firm’s recent insight, “Cannabis-infused food could become an everyday dinner option. And with gen Zers opting for marijuana over alcohol – 69 percent of people aged 18 to 26 prefer marijuana to alcohol, according to recent data from cannabis research firm New Frontier Data – expect to see more cannabis consumption and hospitality hitting the mainstream.”
Right now, Contessa is gathering soul-food family recipes and expanding her menu. “I’d love to host educational events and have speakers at the restaurant,” she says. “I want to be able to give back to my community. I can help to educate people so they can learn that marijuana is not bad. It’s not taboo. It’s a good thing.”
The Geneva native has high hopes for how recreational marijuana could transform the city. Geneva – both the city and town – opted in to allow consumption lounges and dispensaries.
“Smoking is a unifying experience,” she says. “I think we’ll see people of different ages, different races, and different ethnicities coming together.”
Eventually, she wants to supply her restaurant with cannabis she grows herself, both for financial reasons and safety reasons: she’ll know it’s free of pesticides. And, at some point, she wants to mix in another love of hers: wine.
“Don’t think that I’m not going to try to infuse wine,” she says, laughing. “I am, as soon as I figure it out.”
Until the state starts issuing licenses, Contessa must wait before officially opening.
“Everybody right now is waiting to get licenses,” she says. “In the meantime, they’re honing their skills.”