As the Illinois cannabis industry blooms during its first year of legalization, more and more fledgling businesses are finding niches inside the new market.
But when friends Chef Angelina Bastidas and cannabis consultant Sarah Mitchell founded Tournant Chi, they were not thinking about finding a niche business.
Bastidas and Mitchell were just following their professional and personal passions.
Tournant, according to its owners, specializes in infused private fine dining experiences with expertly curated pairings for a whimsical, unique, and safely guided experience.
Bastidas and Mitchell decided to create this rare atmosphere for dining in 2019 and, until the Illinois stay-at-home order, had been serving infused fine dining to customers in the Chicago area.
“Chicago is well known for its food scene, and I’m well known for my food, more towards global and fine dining cuisine,” Bastidas said. “I am a cannabis advocate, and began experimenting with cannabis and food under one umbrella…My partner, Sarah, ties everything together assuring each dish is paired with the correct strain, walking our clients through details and how or what to (expect to) feel. Her knowledge on the plant is impeccable.”
In 2015, Bastidas became the youngest contestant to compete on Top Chef. She made it to the sixth episode before being cut. She also competed on Bong Appetit in a Latin cannabis cooking battle with chefs Diana Sabater and Guadalupe Guerrero. On the show, Bastidas plated smoked corn and tomato salsa with a limey Zeta strain for Cypress Hill’s B-Real.
Bastidas and Mitchell’s goal is for them to be able to have fun with guests and still pull off a proper dining service.
“It’s stressful to some,” Bastidas said, “but we love when guests gather around as Sarah and I get prepared for the dinner. Guests are amazed on how we’re capable of preparing a five-course tasting with joint pairings—without the panic attacks from eating too many edibles. We make sure your dosage is right.”
Mitchell’s favorite part of hosting the experience is that moment about two hours into the infused meal when the first course “kicks in.”
“When everyone starts to get reeeeal giggly, that’s when you know it’s all going perfectly and they’re going to have an experience they’ll never forget,” said Mitchell. “And the next day, when everyone tells you they got the perfect amount of high, learned new things and had an a amazing nights sleep, that’s just about the most satisfaction I could get.”
A couple years ago, Mitchell was inspired when she’d attended an infused dinner by the Herbal Chef at Frontier.
“Seven courses, full service,” Mitchell said. “Vaping at the table allowed. It blew my mind, and it was such an absolutely incredible evening, and the vibes were perfect.”
As the case with most businesses, Tournant, which means ‘to revolve’ in French, has felt the affects of the Covid-19 pandemic and shutdown and have not hosted a private dinner since the end of February.
“The Covid pandemic has caused the restaurant and food industry to come to a halt, including Tournant,” Bastidas said. “People don’t want others in their home, and we completely understand. We, too, want to stay safe as possible to be able to come back strong when things get back to normal.”
Tournant has taken a financial hit, but fortunately for Bastidas and Mitchell, they don’t own a space where they have to pay for rent or permits.
Currently, Tournant is not taking clients but the owners are adjusting the business to better fit changing pandemic guidelines.
During the downtime, they have focused on marketing, promoting their platform, and brainstorming new ideas.
“Our main service is in the comfort of the guests’ home,” said Bastidas. “And now, our focus has leaned more towards meal delivery and catering for small businesses. This was something Tournant immediately worked on mid March.”
They are considering more interactive gatherings, such as consultations and Weed 101 tutorials on “How to roll a blunt” or “How to make infused creme brûlée” and other ideas.
“Oh, so many ideas,” Mitchell said. “We are dreaming up all the ways we can bring Tournant to every (adult).”
As soon as Illinois allows restaurants and other businesses to reopen, Bastidas and Mitchell say they again will start taking clients for private home dining.