Southern California CEO Victoria Ortega spent over two decades searching for her calling in the culinary field. A pastry chef by trade, Ortega has worked in restaurants since the ripe age of 14. She started out as a server, then into the kitchen as a dishwasher to a chef to a kitchen manager. She was always searching for the perfect way to combine her passion for food and having fun in the kitchen with her calling for service and helping people. Now with her new line of THC-infused cooking seasonings, she’s able to do just that.
Ortega is a big fan of cannabis, but not particularly as a user herself. Rather, she loves cannabis for its medicinal purposes. In Ortega’s circle of family and friends, people have used THC to assuage symptoms of pain, insomnia, depression and even cancer.
“My heart is in it for medical benefits,” the 35-year-old chef said. “I truly believe this is a supplement that can make people’s lives better and help cope with pain.”
Such was the inspiration for Sabor A Chef V’s Lemon Pepper, Cajun Spice and Garlic Salt seasonings, a trio of cannabis spices designed to add extra flavor to everyday snacks and meals.
Low Doses Offer Consistent, Balanced High
Ortega trademarked the brand name Sabor A Chef V (Flavor by Chef V) in homage to her Mexican heritage. Before launching the cannabis seasoning brand, she spent months brainstorming ideas for the perfect cannabis edible. She wanted it to be tasty, flavorful and suitable for everyday consumption, yet also healthy.
That ruled out gummies and other infused candies she called “too sweet and sugary.” It also ruled out butters and oils that she believes taste “too altered”—with a grassy, skunky flavor—because they contain too much THC. With Sabor A Chef V cannabis seasonings, there’s no difference in flavor from non-infused seasonings. More importantly, the 5 milligram THC serving per teaspoon offers a “balanced, consistent high” that allows users to enjoy the plant’s medicinal benefits without wanting to take a nap.
“This is for people of all ages who desire the healing power of cannabis, but who also need to be present and continue on with their day,” Ortega said. “It’s about having fun in the kitchen and bringing cannabis to everyone’s table.”
Inspired by Community and Family
The COVID-19 pandemic brought previously unthinkable new challenges to almost everyone around the globe. But the virus and stay-at-home orders that followed took an especially hard toll on Ortega and her family.
Ortega’s grandmother died of COVID-19 and her mother died from a brain memorrhage—all during a six-month span in 2020. Devastated by the loss of some of the closest women in her life, Ortega did what many people do: She lamented not being able to help them more. She then turned to thinking ahead about how to help others in the future.
“I’m huge when it comes to community service and volunteer work,” Ortega said, adding that she volunteered to help the elderly at nursing homes. “I have a passion for it. Watching my mom go through cancer, the chemo really made her sick. I fed her an edible for the first time and it actually helped her.”
Despite how helpful cannabis was for her mom, the plant’s stigma got in the way.
“She grew up being taught that cannabis was bad, and there was negative stigma associated with it,” Oretga says. “So cannabis wasn’t really a long-term option.”
Ortega admits a stigma surrounding the plant is still alive in mainstream American society. But it’s getting smaller with each passing year. Convinced that her dream project was ready to come to life, she partnered with Los Angeles-based Loco Entertainment last year and began doing R&D on a way to offer healthy eating through THC-infused seasonings. Ortega’s partners helped her connect the Chef A Sabor V brand with vendors in the nearby cities of Van Nuys, Palm Springs and Long Beach, as well as Ortega’s hometown of Torrance, CA.
Sabor A Chef V’s THC-infused Lemon Pepper seasoning launched earlier this year, while her Cajun Spice and Garlic Salt seasonings debuted this month. All three are available at a handful of Los Angeles-area dispensaries. Even better, Ortega says there’s more to come. She’s set to launch an ongoing series of cooking videos featuring her three seasonings, starting in July. By the end of 2022, Sabor A Chef V plans to release a vanilla bean powder, and THC-infused pizza seasoning called “High Pies,” and a powder called “Space Dust.”