Interview with Cannabis Chef Marcela Ikeda of Montevideo:
Marcela Ikeda being Interviewed by VICE Brazil
Marcela Ikeda, 30, is the owner of Larica, an infused experience brand for those who are interested in getting to know Montevideo, Uruguay in a more elevated fashion. Marcela is a Nikkei Brazilian since she grew up between Brazil and Japan, this is where her interest in food started. 4 years ago she moved to Uruguay and that is when Larica Uruguay came to life. First, she was only doing delivery service for friends, and now her team offers infused dining experiences called “Cenas con Maria” and also a “bud and breakfast” experience at her house, “Casa Larica” that is located in the heart of the city. She invites all the guests to sit at her big table and eat her food. So far it has been the best experience Larica has offered yet. If you are coming to Uruguay, let her know!
What kind of experiences do you offer?
We offer a bud and breakfast experience at my guesthouse “Casa Larica” in Montevideo, Uruguay, and also private dinners called “Cenas con María” (dinner with Maria) at my place (or anywhere else the client request) and we still deliver our traditional brownies. I think they will be our favorite product forever.
Casa Larica” in Montevideo, Uruguay
Why did you decide to get into the cannabis food business?
I don’t think that I ever decided to get into the cannabis industry. It happened naturally, to be honest. Back in 2015, I worked at a regular office and I decided to bake brownies to share with my coworkers. It was the first time I had an oven, so I was very excited to bake anything, and it was also my first brownie experience in a legalized country, so everything was new. They loved it, even without cannabis so I continued to bring them to work and I realized these babies were making my financial life a lot better. One day a friend asked me to make a special brownie, that is where it all started. I needed to name the brownies so people would start to identify them, and the name I choose was LARICA, which means, literally, “munchie” in Portuguese. I created a page on Instagram and went to the parks in the city with a little basket. This is how we started, with the one and only magic brownie.
Traditional Larica Brownie by Cannabis Chef Marcela Ikeda
Where did you learn to make all of your edibles?
We have been in the industry since 2015, pretty much since the beginning of the legalization in Uruguay. There was not a lot of information regarding edibles so I had to try my own ways to attain the results I wanted. My palate and my friends were my books and obviously, the internet provided most of what I know. But I still have a lot to learn, and going to the U.S, where the industry is growing so fast is part of my plans for next year. Also, I would like to mention one of my partners known as @growknowhow
on Instagram is a very important part of the whole process of Larica. He introduced me to the other side of the business and helped me understand methods, quantities and etc. A friend of mine told me one day: Build your team and surround yourself with people who trust your work. I’m lucky enough to say that I did that.
Is there a chef or baker you admire the most, who & why?
I am a big fan of The Herbal Chef
, I like the way he presents his dishes and his concept: he cares a lot about the quality of his products before the infusion. This is also something I believe in so he is definitely a very big inspiration for me.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I become inspired by local food, farmers, seasonal ingredients and from the face and noise people make when I feed them. I live to see that and it makes me want to improve so they can make more noise. It’s orgasmic to me!
Infused Salmon Gravlax by Cannabis Chef Marcela Ikeda
What are some of the essential ingredients that you couldn’t live without?
The essential ingredients that I can’t live without are salt, olive oil, coconut oil, garlic, onion, and sugar. These ingredients are my base.
What are some of the goals you have set for your business?
I would like to have a guesthouse by the beach in Uruguay, with my own garden full of vegetables and flowers to subsist and provide the best meal/accommodation experience possible. This is actually on my mind 24/7. I wake up every day to work towards this.
What are some of the challenges you have experienced in this industry?
Being a girl in this industry in a country like Uruguay or Brazil is very challenging. I am pretty much the first one to offer infused experiences to the public and I must say that this is not easy. Another thing is to find ingredients that I can really play with and finding places to cook for events or gatherings. Some people still have a bit of concern regarding opening their space for someone to cook with marijuana. Finding a place with a big table is also something difficult, but so far we are doing well.
Beet-Infused Bread by Cannabis Chef Marcela Ikeda
Do you have any advice or tips for others who are looking to start their own edibles experience business?
Be truthful to your business. especially with your customers. Offer the best you can, bake it, fry it, boil it. It sounds simple but not everyone respects this process. Another important thing is to be who you really are and surround yourself with a good team. I am so glad I got to build my own little team (and I would like to thank them a lot: Pedro, Jess, Aglay, Rico, Larissa, Clarissa, and others). Choose your ingredients carefully and offer seasonal, local food, preferably from local farmers. I also believe that our growth should be organic and constant, honest and clear. This is my advice.
Follow her journey on Instagram @larica.uruguay
Find more information on the Larica Uruguay website.
Author: My Edibles Chef
MyEdiblesChef.com is your online source for finding and learning about cannabis-infused recipes, connecting with an online community of cannabis-infused food lovers, and learning about professional cannabis chefs around the world.