The judges—Jamie Freedman, Saul Spady, Prisilla Ray, and Julie Ross—seemed to enjoy my french fries.
The judges—Jamie Freedman, Saul Spady, Prisilla Ray, and Julie Ross—seemed to enjoy my french fries. LB

Everyone else cheated and there really wasn’t enough weed involved.

That’s my excuse for losing the “Baked” cooking competition yesterday morning at Hot Stove Society, the downtown cooking classroom of Tom Douglas. I was there to compete against three other media people in a food competition to try to raise awareness about stoned driving.

This Friday is 4/20, the holiday to celebrate all things weed. That means CNN will spend most of the day airing videos of people smoking obnoxiously large joints, Volunteer Park will smell even more like pot than it usually does, and there will likely be more stoned drivers on the streets.

In attempt to keep those stoned folks from getting behind the wheel, SDOT is partnering with Lyft to give the ride sharing service’s customers $4.20 off of up to two rides on Friday (just use the code SEA420). The city wants to make sure all you stoners out there know this is an option, which is how I found myself getting beaten in a game of Top Chef (Chopped?) by Komo 4’s Denise Whitaker.

First things first—although this event was called “Baked” and it was promoting safety on 4/20, there was absolutely no pot involved. That both surprised me and put me at a disadvantage. When I agreed to participate in the event, I assumed we would be making pot infused food, which would give me a leg up since I spend my days immersed in all things weed while I write The Stranger’s pot column.

That wasn’t the case. And there wasn’t even any pot smoking in the green room before the show, which also would have helped me out. I feel like if I went dab-for-dab with the bright face of Komo 4’s weekend news, Whitaker wouldn’t have fared so well.

But there I was stone cold sober at 8 a.m. on a Monday with nothing but a coffee buzz. The Lyft people divided us up in our individual teams, with two helpers for reach of us (mine were Tanya from SDOT and Todd from Lyft), and we set out to create our munchie-themed snacks in less than an hour. Spread before us was a selection of vegetables, oils, and spice rubs with the Tom Douglas imprint. Plus three bowls of Funyuns, Chex Mix, and Cheetos—the mystery ingredients that we'd have to include in our meal.

Where were the grains, noodles, dairy, or meat? I asked the staff and was told that this was all we could use. Left with limited options, my team decided to make french fries, and a fresh salsa-and-spiced aioli on the side. If executed perfectly, we figured we could win. Plus, what the hell else are you supposed to make with only some vegetables and spices?

Denise Whitaker (right) and her winning hushpuppies.
Denise Whitaker (right) and her winning hushpuppies. LB
As I was dropping my hand-cut french fries into a pot of hot oil, around came Denise Whitaker to fry up her blend of hushpuppies. “I don’t usually eat red meat or fried food,” she'd commented to me, then proceeded to pour another team’s bacon fat into her fried hushpuppy mix. What the fuck?, I wondered. Where did this other food come from?

It turns out there were other supplies, I'd gotten the wrong information. I looked around and realized other teams had a seeming grocery store of other food items to choose from. One team was making macaroni and cheese, while Rachel Belle—Kiro Radio’s food host and occasional Stranger contributor—had gotten figs and was somehow making homemade pizza in less than hour.

And then there was my team with our french fries. The judges, which included Saul Spady, the grandson of the guy who founded Dick’s Drive-In, said the fries were cooked perfectly and the dips were great. And then they proceeded to give the award to Whitaker and her team.

My fried russets weren’t enough to win the competition, but maybe they'll be enough to convince you not to drive really stoned. It’s a terrible idea, especially if you want to avoid going to jail and paying big fines.

Our state’s laws are extremely strict when it comes to driving with THC in your system. The state-mandated limit is just 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood, an extremely low and unscientific standard. THC doesn’t work like alcohol when it comes to measuring impairment. The state’s 0.08 blood alcohol limit is backed up by decades of science showing that level is reasonably predictive of how impaired a person is.

That is not the case with the 5 nanogram limit. The amount of THC that impairs a novice versus a regular cannabis user is wildly different, and frequent users of pot can have over 5 nanograms of THC in their blood even if they haven’t consumed it in a day.

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But that hasn’t stopped the state from mandating that arbitrary limit, or from the courts charging you if you appear to be driving impaired and subsequently show a higher level of THC in your blood.

For that reason, you should never drive impaired, and especially not on 4/20, when there will be plenty of cops looking for dumb stoners driving high. If ridesharing is your thing, hop on this Lyft deal and save some cash. Or, take the bus or link or streetcar or bike, or walk your damn ass around. Point is, there are plenty of other ways to get around that don’t put you in the driver’s seat.

Smoking weed on 4/20 can be a lot of fun, as long as it doesn’t end with you in a cop car.