Dave Wais, aka Chef Buds, is as unpretentious as they come. He frequents Trader Joe’s. He has a soft spot for pizza. And, like most Americans, he starts his mornings with a cup of hot coffee, only he drinks instant, and with little more than a microwave prepares it like a latte you’d find at your favorite coffee shop—a technique he picked up in Israel that seemed to stick. His penchant for cooking with cannabis concentrates came, largely, the same way.
Wais was inspired to cook by the flavors of his childhood and the influence of his Eastern European mother and late aunt, but he never intended to make it more than a hobby. He didn’t attend culinary school or work his way up the ranks of New York City kitchens. Rather, Wais envisioned practicing dentistry and briefly enrolled in a pre-dental program before dropping out and forming an in-house entertainment company with three friends. It was here that he developed the networking skills that would open the doors to his 420 future.
When he started cooking with cannabis seven years ago, Wais says it was like the Wild West. The process was secretive. New York cannabis laws were antiquated. And sharing a bowl with friends was the extent of its social reach. Yet he wanted more, like elaborate dinner parties, centered around cannabis. So he began experimenting. He found success preparing extracts with trim and soon after modified the Eastern European comfort foods he grew up with. Once its popularity among friends and family was cemented, he decided to legitimize his craft and made the move to the Bay Area of California. After canvassing a few cannabis events, he made friends that turned him on to food grade THC and CBD oils and hit the ground running. Soon he was making his own concentrates with fat-soluble coconut and avocado oils. And that cup of joe he likes to start his day with? He began infusing that with his newfound taste for concentrates. He’s partial to Gorilla Glue, an indica-dominant strain.
After teaming up with Aaron Lynton, a photographer and filmmaker from Hawaii, Wais began targeting social media more aggressively. He adopted the moniker, “Chef Buds,” started to take advantage of the fresh produce of California and, for the past four years, has amassed a sizeable social media following. Cannabis oil companies, like Pot d’Huile and LEVO, have also taken notice and frequently sponsor his creations, like organic scallion pizzas with homemade dough, sweet basil pizza sauce, Colby Jack cheese and infused olive oil drizzled on top.
“I grew up in Brooklyn, and I had the pleasure of being around Di Fara Pizza, the pleasure of being around L&B Spumoni’s, Grimaldi’s, there’s a ton of bomb pizza all over Brooklyn,” Wais said. “When I moved to California I found it so hard to find a good pizza spot so I thought, ‘why not perfect, as best as I can, my pizza?’ And it’s so easy to grab some [cannabis-infused] olive oils and infusions and enjoy it that way.”
Wais says he loves the simplicity of cannabis concentrates and appreciates the lack of smell and ease of proper dosing. Although he began consuming cannabis recreationally, since learning about concentrates he’s come to appreciate the extensive medicinal benefits of the plant.
“Cannabis is much better than alcohol and harder substance abuse,” Wais said. “A lot of my friends have passed away from pills. I worked seven years in the pharmaceutical industry, and I see how cannabis is helping people with the pain they got from pharmaceuticals. My family has a history of Crohn’s disease and other stomach issues, and I’ve been fortunate to introduce my mom and others to infused coconut oil capsules and Delta9 Extracts, which seem to help people with those illnesses.”
Although Wais has an indisputable passion for food, he’s always had a special love for the camera and was often the comedic star of his household. And it’s not hard to see why. He’s charming. And his New York accent and genial vibe are reminiscent of modern food icons Action Bronson and Matty Matheson. An inspection of his Instagram accounts, @Chefbuds and @Chefdwais, reveals his easy-going personality resembles a fusion of the two personalities and looks equally at home in the kitchen.
“When I moved to California I found it so hard to find a good pizza spot so I thought, ‘why not perfect, as best as I can, my pizza?’ And it’s so easy to grab some [cannabis-infused] olive oils and infusions and enjoy it that way.”
But if Chef Wais is anything, he is a hard worker. And every day he’s busy posting new content, precisely at 8 a.m., because content creation demands routine. But he credits his passion for his rising success and often turns to his mantra, “Do what you love, and show people that you’re having a great time.” The rest just seems to fall into place.
Chef Wais is currently working on a vlog that he plans to launch on YouTube by the end of the summer. He’s also in the editing stage of a cannabis lifestyle show he hopes to pitch called, “Badooz with Buds,” a nod to his years dodging Brooklyn police with his friends over cannabis. In addition to his educational and entertainment projects, Wais will be releasing his own spice rubs and infusions and looks forward to future collaborations with fellow cannabis chefs and content creators.