I used to live up in Maine for several years. It’s where I fell in love with the seacoast, fish that smacked of the ocean- freshly plucked from the sea. Oysters when I could afford them were not like the ones I’d tasted around the country. These were fresh, without being shipped fresh. Back in the 1980s when I lived in Maine it was a very different place. Sure, we all smoked weed, but it was not legal yet. And if you should get caught with some, the penalty was unkind and inappropriate at best. But as I remember, the quality was amazing. Certainly not like the gassy strains I was accustomed to smoking in New York City, or the fruit salad strains out West. These terroir-driven farms were all over and each had their own history. I can only imagine the quality today, given the legality of the plant in Maine. That’s where talented cooks like Zack Squier come into the picture. He is a classically trained chef, that is for certain. And with his love for the plant, he has unleashed the benefits of good ingredients, simply prepared with love into a format that includes solventless THC. I’d say that’s a win/win for those of us who value quality over just getting stoned.
With that said, may I please introduce Zack Squier… Cannabis Flavorist and Alchemist.
Please tell me about yourself. Where are you from? Where’s home now? Why Maine?
I’m Zack Squier, Founder & Chef of Squier’s Specialty Edibles. I was born in York, Maine before moving to Sierra Nevada, where I grew up until entering high school. I moved back to the east coast in 2006 and have been living here since. I fell in love with Maine as a young adult, moving to Kittery at the age of 23, before making my way up to Portland where I currently live and where my company is based.
I chose to stay in Maine because I love the overall vibe here, Portland especially. It’s the perfect place for me and has what a big city offers, just fun-sized. The food is on another level, with a killer music scene and top-tier cannabis culture to boot.
Another reason I love Maine is the community. Everyone is proud to be from Maine and it’s for a good reason. From the beautiful summers on the ocean to the cozy winter season in the woods, the tranquil state offers everything I look for in a place. I’m happy to call Maine my home.
Where did you go to learn about culinary arts? Why cannabis? Who taught you?
I began working in restaurants when I was 13, washing dishes at a short-order breakfast joint on the weekends. From then on, I continued down the industry path, working in numerous restaurants under great chefs, learning as much as I could while having as much fun as possible (maybe a little too much fun). I gradually made my way up the ranks from dishwasher, to fry cook, grill cook, sous chef, to executive chef, eventually opening a restaurant, Umami, I was part owner of in Northwood, New Hampshire.
The restaurant industry is also where I was first introduced to cannabis. Smoking behind the dumpsters with the older line cooks and getting into trouble. At that time, cannabis wasn’t as accepted and mainstream as it is today. To be honest, I didn’t really start taking cooking seriously until I was around 20 years old and around that same time is when I began to realize how special and misunderstood the plant was. Whether people used cannabis for the numerous mental or physical benefits or just to let loose, it was fascinating to me. I was inspired to explore all the different ways it could be consumed and played with, creating infusions, and experimenting. I knew whatever I was going to do in life, I wanted it to involve the magic of food and cannabis.
Tell me about your company. What do you do?
At Squier’s Specialty Edibles we specialize in cannabis-infused drink mixers and beverages. What sets us apart from other edible-focused companies is that our ingredients are our main priority. We make our products from scratch with 100% real fruit, organic blue agave, fresh squeezed citrus, and solventless hash rosin.
Being a chef, I didn’t like how I had to compromise my everyday eating habits if I wanted to consume an edible. I desired to provide people with a product that had just as much passion and integrity into the food ingredients as the cannabis used. It made zero sense to me why companies take cannabis – that growers and extractors spent months carefully producing and curating – and infuse it into terrible food ingredients, pumped with artificial flavors and food coloring. It doesn’t do the plant justice and that’s where we strived to do things differently.
Working in the restaurant industry for many years, I witnessed firsthand how bad alcohol abuse can get and how it can negatively affect people’s lives. I myself had my troubles with it. We’re offering people an alcohol-free alternative, whether they are sober from booze and want to consume an adult beverage, or if someone just doesn’t want to deal with a horrible hangover the next day. An ideal option for those following a “Cali Sober” lifestyle, our cannabis-infused mixers are made for every canna-consumer as you can customize your dose by adding a little or a lot: micro to macro.
Do you have any ideas for cocktails with your product?
We regularly release delicious recipes and always showcase unique ways to use Squire’s product. We design our elixirs to be able to easily add your preferred dose into sparkling or still water, but we encourage people to get creative with them. They can also be baked and cooked with, allowing you to enhance any dish.
Whether that be a craft canna-cocktail, an infusion into a homemade ice cream, baking into a batch of brownies, infusing a sauce for wings, or simply adding a tablespoon to your nightly tea before bed. The possibilities are endless! Use in any recipe that could use a little fruit “punch”.
What is your passion?
My passion is food – I love creating it, sharing it, and eating it. Food has been a constant for me and legitimately what my life has revolved around for almost two decades. Food is life and it ties directly into beverages. When I think about why I love working in the food and beverage industry, it’s because of the way it brings people together. No matter our differences, we all eat and drink. Every culture has different cuisines, dishes, and techniques. It’s truly fascinating and you can never stop learning!
Cannabis and food are similar in this manner. They both have a beautiful way of uniting us, whether it’s a joint being passed around in a circle of strangers or sitting down to enjoy a meal cooked with loved ones. By combining two of my passions, food, and cannabis, I’ve truly found my purpose, which is to create a product that helps others and connects the community.