Since relocating to Las Vegas, Chicago native Zairilla Bacon has become the go-to chef for stony celebrities like Snoop Dogg and Tommy Chong. Her secret ingredient? Lots of high-priced pot, naturally.
Prior to making a mark with her cannabis-infused concoctions, Bacon graduated from Waukegan High School and studied at the College of Lake County before starting her own catering business, Zairee Lee and Company. Bacon, who has remained an avid cannabis user since her teens, started cooking for her large family at a young age.
“I was raised in the kitchen,” she said.
In 2012, Bacon moved to Sin City at her best friend’s urging and took a job as a delivery driver for a dispensary. Medical marijuana has been legal in the state for over a decade, and a law that allows the use of recreational cannabis went into effect last June.
As part of the job, Bacon handed out a free cannabis-infused edible with every order she dropped off. That’s when she saw an opportunity to combine her love of cooking with her proclivity for pot.
“I told my boss, ‘I know how to cook, I would love to get into that,’” Bacon said.
Joe William, her former boss and the owner of a chain of dispensaries known as the California Care Group, then taught her how to make cannabis-infused butter, and the rest is history.
“Once I got on board, their sales for edibles went up tremendously,” she added.
After finding that initial success and getting a raise at the dispensary, Bacon realized she wanted to combine cannabis with more traditional fare, like chicken wings, macaroni and cheese and collared greens. Thus, she started her latest venture, Z’s Menu, which caters homemade munchies and her signature “Z Juice” to state-registered medical marijuana patients.
“I try to make you not be able to taste the cannabis whatsoever, so that you almost forget that there’s cannabis in there because I want you to still enjoy the food,” Bacon said.
Since launching her latest venture, Bacon has cooked up pot-laced meals for a growing list of celebrity clients, including former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and rappers Method Man, Redman and Paul Wall.
Last year, Bacon appeared on an episode of 2 Chainz’s Viceland show, “Most Expensivest,” where she cooked up a pricy medicated meal for the Atlanta rapper and his guests, Chong and stand-up comedian Hannibal Buress (who is also a Chicago native). After getting word that 2 Chainz was interested in having her on the show, Bacon dropped everything she was doing and prepared the lavish meal on two days notice.
On the menu were lobster tails ($525 per pound), crab legs ($225 per pound) and chicken wings (roughly $20 per wing). Bacon noted that the high costs were dictated by the price of the “top shelf” cannabis she used, which can run up to $75 per gram.
“There’s different ‘top shelf’ cannabis, like you have your cheaper kind then you have your presidential stuff Snoop Dogg and Tommy Chong smoke,” said Bacon, who also offers patients more reasonably-priced options that are made with lower-quality strains of marijuana.
The chef, who is known endearingly as “Bacon Bitch,” is now focusing on vegan dishes made with CDB, or cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive form of marijuana that holds a quasi-legal status in many states.
“I’m crossing over to the more legal side where [people] can have my products all over the world now,” she said.
As part of the effort to expand her reach, Bacon has partnered with William to create a signature line of CBD products that will be sold in dispensaries in California, Colorado, Massachusetts and Nevada.