An Interview With Edibles Expert Elise McDonough, Confections At CannaCraft

Elise McDonough, an eighteen-year veteran of the cannabis industry, is one of the first people who took the time to dig a bit deeper into my nascent background in cannabis. After all, she interviewed me for High Times back when my book Cannabis Cocktails was launched. Her ready smile and deeply journalistic skills put me at ease, and I’ll always be appreciative of her efforts on my behalf. She, too, is an author — check out her Bong Appétit cookbook from Vice, The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook and Marijuana for Everybody!. Recently, I discovered that Elise has created a new chapter in her life. She is now a Brand Manager at CannaCraft, responsible for confections marketing within California’s largest cannabis company, dipping into her knowledge base with everything she has at her disposal. She epitomizes the term class act.  

Warren Bobrow: You’ve had a fame filled career in cannabis, and I see you have an important job with CannaCraft— What ambitions do you have with your new role?

Elise McDonough: I was very excited to join CannaCraft last fall, it’s a company that I’ve long admired for their innovation, authenticity and pioneering of CBD use through Care By Design. As Brand Manager for Confections at CannaCraft, I intend to launch new brands and develop fun, delicious new cannabis-infused edibles. Over the past six months at Satori Confections, we have been experimenting with creating fast-acting edibles, as well as launching a new 1:1 ratio of CBD-Rich Blueberries in Dark Chocolate along with microdosed Peppermints. Limited-edition specialties like the S’Mores Bites are the first flavor we’ve launched as part of a new rotating seasonal menu.

WB: Do you miss the journalistic side of the cannabis industry over more practical applications of the plant? What are you doing now? 

Building a career at High Times—from starting as an Art Assistant and then working up to being a published cookbook author and first-ever Edibles Editor—was an unforgettable experience, and I realize that I’m very privileged to have had a front-row seat to witness the cannabis movement evolve into an industry. Producing educational cannabis culinary content has long been a passion of mine, and that brought me to another book project, working with the editors at VICE on the Bong Appétit cookbook before moving on to serve as a Product Specialist for Leafly. 

Working in another segment of the cannabis industry, as part of California’s largest manufacturer, has allowed me to learn about other parts of the business while my background in editorial and events work has helped me immensely in marketing brands. My ability to create compelling content has translated nicely into copywriting, editing educational blogs and commissioning recipe content for Satori. I’m also currently running a content marketing program for other CannaCraft brands as well. I’m passionate about supporting the cannabis culinary movement, and so we’ve been working with leading chefs and tastemakers to create interesting recipes that use CannaCraft products, including Hi-Fi Hops and the Satori chocolate bars and bites. Our Satori “Virtual 4/20 Feast” recipe series was a lot of fun and the content proved to be very engaging, helping us grow our Satori social channels and drive sales.

WB: What are your six and twelve month goals? What obstacles do you face? Any stigmas? 

EM: Obviously, it’s very hard to plan right now, with the pandemic requiring us to frequently pivot as far as marketing strategy and day-to-day operations. I think the recent changes that we’ve seen in cannabis shopping patterns are here to stay, with delivery and online ordering altering customer habits for the long term. We’ve had a lot of success partnering with Eaze, as well as I Heart Jane to facilitate online orders at nearby dispensaries.

As far as obstacles, adapting to the current world events has been tough enough, but I also think that this historical period of uncertainty allows for transformational opportunities in our society, as we strive to treat each other more fairly and build a better system. I fervently believe that cannabis can be used mindfully as a tool to change consciousness while helping people cope with stress, and that’s what we’re here to do.

In six months, I hope that we are on a path to nationwide cannabis legalization and drug law reform, and a brighter future in 2021 after the incredible challenges of this year. As far as goals for the next year, I think we’re all just trying to stay sane and healthy while providing safe, delicious cannabis edibles to our valued customers and expanding our market share. Personally, I can’t wait until I can safely see my family in Colorado, Ohio and New York again!

WB: What is your favorite food memory from childhood? Favorite food now? What’s on your dinner table tonight?

EM: I just celebrated my birthday with a pineapple upside-down cake, which is one of my favorite nostalgic treats that my mom would make a lot when I was a kid. Along with lemon meringue pie and fresh strawberries in whipped cream, the pineapple upside-down cake really says “summertime” for me. I’m grateful for my cooking skills, which have come in handy during the shelter-in-place order, and together with my partner David Bienenstock, we’ve been cooking from scratch almost every day, based on fresh produce from the Farmer’s Market. Last night we roasted a chicken with potatoes, carrots and beets, and tonight we’ll probably use the leftovers to make Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Salsa and some pinto beans and rice.

WB: What is your passion?

EM: Outside of cannabis and gardening, I love hiking and camping in nature, as well as animals and wildlife. I’ve taken up bird watching as a pastime. One day, I hope to rescue senior dogs or learn to rehabilitate injured wildlife.

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