RootedBuds Caters Cannabis-Infused Meals Designed for Healing

Denise Winfield-Hollins and chef Snoop Hollins created RootedBuds to promote self-care and pain management through elevated edibles

Apr 20, 2023 at 8:41 am
click to enlarge Snoop Hollins and Denise Winfield-Hollins run RootedBuds, a cannabis-infused catering company.
Snoop Hollins and Denise Winfield-Hollins run RootedBuds, a cannabis-infused catering company.

Three years ago, Denise Winfield-Hollins and Snoop Hollins were at a turning point. It was the start of the pandemic. Hollins had lost her job as a food and beverage specialist at the Missouri Athletic Club. Winfield-Hollins spent her time at a human resources job dreaming of doing something more creative.

The couple started asking themselves some hard-hitting questions. What should they invest their time and energy into? What were the things they loved?

The latter question was easy to answer.

"We both really love cannabis," Winfield-Hollins says.

Like, really love cannabis. So much so, they tried to get married on 4/20, but had to settle on a date a few days later, as the courthouse was closed. They have each been cannabis cultivators and patients for years. It only made sense that they should start a cannabis business together.

Now their hospitality brand, RootedBuds, is in its third year. And the Hollinses have found their calling.

Together, they provide a service to their clients that they've long searched for themselves but never found: a catered cannabis experience that considers individual clients' needs — whether that's treating specific health ailments or managing correct dosage. It's a "plants before pills" approach, Winfield-Hollins says.

RootedBuds will cook cannabis-infused meals in clients' homes if asked to do so. They'll also cater events, with plain or cannabis-infused fare.

Though Winfield-Hollins is an occasional cook, Hollins is the culinary force behind RootedBuds. She grew up watching her grandfather at his former restaurant, Richard's Ribs, in Kirkwood. The experience inspired her to study baking and hospitality management at Johnson and Wales culinary school. Her career started in hotels and fast food restaurants but has evolved in the 17 years since with front- and back-of-house gigs.

click to enlarge Snoop Hollins grew up watching her grandfather cook at his former restaurant, Richard's Ribs, in Kirkwood.
Snoop Hollins grew up watching her grandfather cook at his former restaurant, Richard's Ribs, in Kirkwood.

Winfield-Hollins handles the business side of things while Hollins cooks. Though they frequently refer to RootedBuds as a hospitality brand, when they speak of their work, the couple sound more like physicians than entrepreneurs. Clients are patients; cannabis is medicine.

Ultimately, they just want to help people find the same relief they have, Hollins explains.

"Some of our clients have cancer, and being able to experience cannabis in the way that we provide is very helpful for them," Hollins says. "It also helps break down this stigma that cannabis is negative or just for stoners, that the point of [eating infused foods] is to get super stoned. That's not really the case."

While Hollins and Winfield-Hollins will laugh and call themselves "stoners," they're far from the stereotype. Both have consumed cannabis for several years, not necessarily in the hopes of achieving mind-altering highs but to relieve pain.

For several years, doctors prescribed Winfield-Hollins medication that never alleviated her migraines. Then she found cannabis. The migraines she once had for days at a time retreated to only short seasonal occurrences. Hollins also lives with chronic pain. Years playing sports and standing in restaurants have plagued her feet.

"When I'm working in the kitchen all day, [cannabis] helps me get through that pain," she says.

As medical cannabis patients, the Hollinses noticed a lack of options as they searched for ways to consume cannabis other than through smoking or eating sugary edibles such as gummies or brownies.

While RootedBuds has options for those with a sweet tooth (take their deconstructed apple pie a la mode, for example, infused with 10 mg of THC), Hollins whips up several savory meals that cater more to those with dietary restrictions, such as diabetes. Most RootedBuds meals can be altered for any dietary restriction, according to Hollins, from gluten-free to vegan.

When Hollins talks about her food, she sounds like a connoisseur. She matches the terpenes of each strain to complement the flavors in each meal.

Some crowd favorites include RootedBuds' birria tacos and sweet and spicy sauce — which, "outside of a bowl of cereal," Winfield-Hollins says, "We put on everything."

"We are providing something to people that tastes good and makes them feel good," Winfield-Hollins says.

The Hollinses hope to eventually expand RootedBuds to its own brick-and-mortar location. Right now, most of RootedBuds' operations are run through the couple's Ferguson event space, Eighteen North. They also host supper clubs at Cola Private Lounge.

But they need money and a license — things that are hard to come by for up-and-coming cannabis entrepreneurs in Missouri. And as Black, queer women, they're aware of the high tower of adversity they'd have to surmount.

Still, they're optimistic.

"The odds are stacked against us, but that doesn't mean it won't happen," Winfield-Hollins says. "You just got to be able to dream and keep working and stay true to who you are. As long as we do that, and as long as we're providing quality products and services and providing medication to people, everything will work out for us."

RootedBuds will host High Priority Self-Care Luncheon on May 7 for an afternoon of women, weed and wine. Anna Ortiz-Aragon, a self-described sound healer from Align with Anna, will talk self-care and host a sound healing session. Attendees will receive lunch, wine, a pre-roll and photo booth access. Find more info on Rooted Buds' Facebook page.

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