An Interview With: Kim Rael, CEO Of Inventive CBD, and Cannabis Edibles Brand, Azuca

I sat with Kim Rael for a few minutes at the Seed to Sale Show, held up in Boston, a couple days ago. I could immediately see the potential of her company, in between talking about everything else but her company. And then I forgot to give Kim my business card. That's not like me, sorry Kim! At any rate, I was conversing with Tom Weihmayr of the Toronto Drink Factory about flavors, the potential for flavor driven products like cannabis in beverages and the like. A flash of inspiration put a light bulb into my head, and it led me back into my recent chat with Kim Rael. Why not take this thing called cannabis and spread the philosophy and medicinal benefits around the globe? Why not indeed? Which brings me back to the conversation that enjoyed with Kim. She's whip smart, that's immediately obvious, and I saw her mind working, always thinking of the next sentence carefully before putting the words into the air. Kim is a studied business-minded visionary. A deeply pragmatic, highly talented business woman who is a force for change. Becoming CEO of a major corporation in the cannabis field is not usually the role that someone aspires to, especially when it's so risk filled. After all, there are certain regulations in every state, and of course the Federal Government as a bureaucracy to contend with. And of course the 'stigma' which is, quite simply the 900 pound gorilla in the room. That gorilla comes in many formats, be it regulatory, or more simply, the law of the land, or even a disapproving family member. It takes guts to be a success in the cannabis world and Kim Rael is, for all intents and purposes making a massive dent in the veneer of the traditional business model. She is living the experience of a metric-driven entrepreneur, but the successes are far more vital when you are using someone else's money. Sure it's cannabis, and this CEO role, running the top of the house is no less important than a Forbes Fifty list member in traditional business. Because traditional business is about to be overtaken by intellectual superiority and women like Kim Rael, who is going to be very well known. I have every anticipation that Azuca and Inventive CBD will become household names before long. They offer the finest culinary products,that are unlike anything else on the market. Culinarians should be equally charmed with Chef Ron Silver involved in the Culinary equation. Certainly, he is someone who knows his way around flavor, quality, and most importantly, class. These full flavored products that certainly, 'Raise the Bar' in the form of fun, intriguing flavors, and the simplicity of execution.  I'm honored to share Kim's story, and her entrepreneurial style, based in real, old-fashioned business-sense. The kind that you find in rational thinkers, and in working entrepreneurs. Real hard workers.

Kim is just the right fit for my column, and I'm honored to share her story with my readers.  Thank you Kim, you absolutely made my day, even if I did forget to give you my business card.

And for the record, it does say that I make you, hungry and thirsty.

This is something that I know you have experienced first hand. For success.

WB: Warren Bobrow

KR: Kim Rael

WB: Where are you from? Why Cannabis? Where do you see your company in six months?  One year?

KR: I grew up in the mountains of Northern New Mexico.  I’ve lived on both coasts and abroad, and happily returned to the Land of Enchantment after finishing my MBA.  I now live in Albuquerque, and commute to NYC where Azuca is headquartered. I would have never imagined myself in the cannabis industry. In fact, I often call myself the “accidental cannabis entrepreneur.” After a long career in tech, I decided to make a pivot.  I was looking for a new challenge that would allow me to leverage my startup expertise in the sector that I am most passionate about, and that is wellness. While I was looking in the other direction, cannabis came knocking on my door.  A former classmate and long-time colleague in the entrepreneurial world introduced me to Chef Ron Silver, Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Azuca.   I was a skeptic at first, but after doing my due diligence and conducting thorough research on the industry, I came to understand the healing and wellness power of the cannabis plant. I knew that I was destined be a part of this new venture, and the cannabis wellness movement in general. Since then, Azuca has taken off, with hemp-derived CBD products available nationwide, and THC products available in Massachusetts, through our licensee, Mayflower Medicinals which is an iAnthus company.   We are currently expanding our licensee footprint to multiple states.  Six months from now, we will have launched our next product line expansion (Sneak Preview:culinary inspired tinctures and Stevia drops.) We will have grown our THC licensing business to multiple states and partners.   A year from now, I anticipate we will be one of the fastest growing cannabis brands in the United States, with an emerging footprint overseas.

WB: I see you are an accomplished business leader. I used to support (as an executive assistant for twenty years...really) a series of C-level, mostly female executives on their way up the C-Level and above ladder. How do you manage your company? Top down? Bottom up?  Business school?

KR: It’s all about the team, or as Jim Collins taught us in his classic book, Good to Great, it’s about getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats on the bus.  I like to surround myself with people who are smart, fun, ethical, self-motivated and hard working.  We have a highly virtual team so we rely on a everyone to “self manage” and exhibit strong personal maturity and “assumed ownership” of the business challenges at hand.

(Editor's note: Well said, Kim...)

WB: Do you cook?  If so, and if you have time.  What would be your favorite kind of cooking?  Who taught you? Mother? Father? Television cooking shows?  Do you have a favorite restaurant? Why?

KR: I have loved to cook since I was a little girl.  My mother used to laugh because I would fall asleep at night reading the old red and white Better Homes and Gardens cook book.  (I knew I was going to get along with Ron the first time I walked into his office and saw that same beloved cookbook on his shelf.) Mom did not like to cook, so she happily let me run the kitchen at home, and I enthusiastically experimented on my brothers with all kinds of crazy recipes growing up.  Now I am very interested in tasty, whole food cooking inspired by the likes of Canyon Ranch and love to keep a fresh herb garden. Hands down, one of my favorite restaurants is Ron Silver’s restaurant, Bubby’s – but I’m not saying that because he’s my business partner! It’s truly the best comfort food around, with a successful 30-year track record in New York City’s competitive restaurant scene to prove it (not to mention seven locations in Japan!).  I like to say that Ron’s fried chicken is worth the calories!  (Funny story:  I learned after the fact that our lead investor ordered fried chicken from Bubby’s five times as part of his due diligence to see if it really was that good and consistent before investing in Azuca.)

WB: Tell me about your company?  What is your core customer? How has your company evolved in the leader it is today?

KR: Azuca is a technology-driven, culinary-inspired cannabis company.  Ron developed what we believe is the best cannabis edibles delivery system available.  Around that innovation, we have launched a line of fast-acting cannabis and hemp-infused edibles, sweeteners and ingredients. We have both THC and full spectrum hemp products based on our three-patent-pending technology that emulsifies the Full Spectrum/CBD and THC molecules in order to make them more water-friendly and therefore more easily absorbed. The end result is a consistent, predictable effect that takes the fear and guesswork out of edibles. Right now, our Hemp line consists of infused simple syrup, sugar and chocolate coins.  Our THC line consists of pâte de fruits (aka an exceptional gummie), shortbread cookies, fruit syrups, sugars and chocolate coins. The idea behind the brand is to provide extremely precise dosing, with unique, delicious ingredients and flavor options that allow consumers to customize to their unique needs, palates and preferences. This makes our brand broadly appealing, but in particular, we built our brand to accommodate novice CBD and cannabis consumers, who want to dip their toes into the water by micro-dosing and trying products that are in familiar, approachable form factors. After all, who isn’t accustomed to putting a spoonful of sugar in their coffee, tea or lemonade? As a result, we have garnered widespread interest in our brand very quickly- because it’s fun, original and it truly works fast. Think 2-15 minutes, versus 1-4 hours with traditional infused products.

WB: If you could be anywhere in the world, right now- where would that be? Doing what? With whom?

KR: I would be hiking with my family, anywhere we could be trekking yet see the ocean, like the Pacific Coast Trail or Hawaii.  (Or Acadia National Park, but it’s the wrong time of year for that one!)

Thank you ever so much, Kim for your time in a busy moment of your amazing story and of your success-driven life!


Marijuana yes, CBD no? City's senseless cannabidiol crackdown

A sample of cannabidiol (CBD) oil in a jar.

If I were a betting man, I would bet my restaurants that New York will legalize cannabis in 2019. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and a majority of New Yorkers are on board. “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get a historic issue right for future New Yorkers," de Blasio said in a recent report. "Legal cannabis is coming to New York state."

A state Health Department study released last July determined that the benefits of legal marijuana outweigh the risks. The department determined that legalizing the drug for New Yorkers older than 21 would not significantly raise smoking rates and could help reduce racial disparities in police enforcement.

The benefits are clear: cannabis sales would feed our tax coffers, there would be a reduction in unnecessary arrests, and the black market would eventually be eradicated.

So then why is de Blasio allowing his Department of Health to crack down on coffee shops and restaurants for selling cannabidiol? CBD is a non-psychoactive chemical compound that contains less than 0.3% of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). A quick Google search fully explains the clear difference between hemp-derived CBD—an ingredient that has been safely consumed by millions—and cannabis. Among its countless and versatile applications, CBD reduces stress, alleviates pain, prevents seizures, helps with migraines and is a known antidote for opioid users. And it does not make you high.

The Department of Health’s crackdown happened, by the way, less than two months after passage of the new Farm Bill, which affirmatively removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. In other words, it made hemp-derived CBD legal. We understand wholeheartedly that the Health Department officials want to protect New Yorkers and “are not permitting restaurants to add anything to food or drink that isn’t approved as safe to eat,” but how do they know it is not safe?

The agency is saying eateries to sell it as an additive but not put it in food. Now the conversation is getting murky. Restaurants have received no guidance from the city on the legal requirements of using CBD as an ingredient, despite requests by numerous small business owners and the New York City Hospitality Alliance.

In light of the shift toward legalization in New York and across the country, this aggressive approach of issuing fines and confiscating food containing CBD is irresponsible and unnecessary—and creating massive confusion among consumers who use CBD to combat a myriad of mental and physical health issues.

If New York wants to compete in the most exciting growth industry in our lifetime, we must adopt a robust and affirmative stance on hemp-based extracts and CBD in foods and supplements.

The informed public wants this product. And will get it. The smart localities will welcome it and reap the rewards in their tax base (or lose out, period). The market is moving and it is up to the local regulators to decide if they want to thrive with the industry or not. Because the industry will thrive; it will just relocate to where it is welcome.

New York City must take a deeper look at the Farm Bill as well as the myriad benefits of hemp-based products. Let consumers have what they have been promised and what was federally legislated. And for goodness sake, don’t turn back the clock on CBD when adult-use cannabis legalization is already on the docket—and, for New Yorkers, a sure bet.


Azuca Featured on Your Highness Podcast

In our 15th episode, we begin once again with our favorite things, but this is a first! We have a collective favorite - Mary Jane Gift Boxes - of which we both were super lucky to receive! We review this awesome theme box and talk about the different collections!

Next, we keep it on a positive note to talk about some of the exciting things we expect this year! There is so much to look forward to, even if it is sometimes difficult to hopeful!

https://s147.podbean.com/pb/dd5e7220e4c1552d2080d772852f34b6/5c3e8732/data1/fs92/1979147/uploads/Full_Episode_2_15_MP3.mp3


The New Consumer Guide to Cannabis: Breaking Down the Basics

We get it. Cannabis can be confusing, and questions abound when you dive into the nitty gritty details.

But as the popularity and awareness of cannabis increases—specifically surrounding two of its most talked about components, called cannabinoids, CBD and THC—so do misconceptions about what cannabis is, what it does and what all of the hype is about (well worth it, if you ask us!).

Some of the most common questions we hear:

Do all cannabis products get you high? (short answer: no)
What is it used for? (the list keeps on growing)
How does it taste? (Azuca was founded by a chef—you can trust us on this one)
Why should I try it out? (how much time do you have?)

Like all good stories, we think it’s best to start at the beginning to help you nail down the basics. For the sake of brevity, we’ll hone in on THC and CBD only—though bear in mind, the cannabis plant contains more than one hundred unique cannabinoids.

Do all cannabis products get you high?

Nope. A cannabis-infused product’s ability to provide a high is dependent on whether the product contains THC or is CBD only. Not sure what THC and CBD are? Read on.

THC and CBD—what’s the difference?

CBD and THC, shorthand for cannabidiol and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, respectively, are cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant. More simply, they are two of the most abundant active ingredients found in cannabis.

A common difference cited between the two is that THC can get you high and CBD doesn’t. But it’s a little more sophisticated than that. Both THC and CBD are psychoactive—by definition, any substance that has an effect on the mind is psychoactive—but only THC is intoxicating, meaning that it can provide you with a euphoric high while CBD cannot.

Why? It all has to do with cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors, which naturally occur within your body’s endocannabinoid system. Since THC is an ‘agonist’, it stimulates CB1 receptors in the brain. CBD on the other hand, is an ‘antagonist’ and inhibits activation of CB1 receptors. A 2001 study1 demonstrated that when an antagonist blocks the CB1 receptors, an individual cannot get high, therefore when the CB1 receptors are open to being stimulated by an agonist, an individual can get high.

What is cannabis used for?

A growing body of literature indicates that cannabis has a variety of health benefits that can aid in the treatment and recovery of a range of ailments. Since the research on its medicinal applications is still in a nascent stage, its complete capabilities are not fully known. That being said, studies 2,3  have shown that cannabinoids can be an effective and well-tolerated pain reliever, with evidence suggesting that they are also helpful in the treatment of cancer,4, 5 fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis,6 muscle spasticity,7 Tourette Syndrome,8 schizophrenia,9  Parkinson’s Disease and Huntington’s Disease.2

Cannabis is also frequently used to treat the symptoms that accompany drug therapy for HIV infections,10 and synthetic cannabinoids have proven to be effective in relieving the side effects of cancer chemotherapy, like nausea and vomiting.11

CBD in particular is highly regarded for its calming effects, with individuals reporting that it relieves insomnia and anxiety, and can also help manage epilepsy.

What does it taste like?

Historically, cannabis has gotten a bad rep for tasting ‘grassy’ and smelling ‘skunky’. But that doesn’t have to be the reality—today’s edibles have advanced to the point where the “weed” flavor that many find undesirable is virtually undetectable. Our mantra? You can have your cannabis, and enjoy it too! Our products range from CBD simple syrup to THC-infused chocolate coins, shortbread cookies, Pâte de Fruits (Azuca’s Head of Kitchen Crew, Quino, dubbed this as his favorite product) and more.

We’re constantly coming up with new flavors—think Root Beer Pâte de Fruit and pomegranate simple syrup—and are expanding rapidly, so make sure to follow us on social (@azuca.co) to stay up-to-date! Warning: mouthwatering is a frequent side effect of looking at our Instagram page.

How much should I consume?

For novice consumers, it’s recommended to begin with a very small amount of cannabis—also known as a microdose—and gradually work your way up to the point when the desired effect is reached. For instance, with Azuca, this might mean using a half teaspoon of sugar or syrup in your drink. Fortunately, our products take effect within 30 minutes, so you won’t be waiting and wondering for hours as you would with many other edible products on the market.

The bottom line: every person is different, so starting low and going slow is the key to finding the correct dose for your unique biology and needs—in fact, many people prefer to microdose because it allows them to benefit from the plant’s vast medical potential on a daily basis, without experiencing any unwanted lethargy or euphoria.

Alright, all of that sounds great. How can I get in on the action?

Whether you’re looking to discover your Zen through CBD-only products or are desirous of finding balanced, THC-infused edibles and ingredients to incorporate into your lifestyle, Azuca promises to deliver fast-acting, precise and delicious edibles that you can count on.

Our CBD products can be bought online here, and our THC-infused edibles are available at Mayflower Medicinals in Massachusetts.

Sources

  1. Huestis MA., Gorelick DA., Heishman SJ., Preston KL., Nelson RA., Moolchan ET., Frank RA. Blockade of effects of smoked marijuana by the CB1-selective cannabinoid receptor antagonist SR141716. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2001;58:322–328. [PubMed]
  2. Natalya M. Kogan, Raphael Mechoulam. Cannabinoids in health and disease. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2007;9:413–430. [PMC]
  3. Mary Barna Bridgeman, Daniel T. Abazia. Medicinal Cannabis: History, Pharmacology, And Implications for the Acute Care Setting. P T. 2017;42:180–188. [PMC]
  4. Kogan NM. Cannabinoids and cancer. Mini Rev Med Chem.2005;5:941–952. [PubMed]
  5. Bifulco M., Laezza C., Gazzerro P., Pentimalli F. Endocannabinoids as emerging suppressors of angiogenesis and tumor invasion (review). Oncol Rep. 2007;17:813–816. [PubMed]
  6. Cabranes A., Pryce G., Baker D., Fernandez-Ruiz J. Changes in CB1 receptors in motor-related brain structures of chronic relapsing experimental allergic encephalomyelitis mice. Brain Res.2006;1107:199–205. [PubMed]
  7. Brenneisen R., Egli A., Elsohly MA., Henn V., Spiess Y. The effect of orally and rectally administered delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol on spasticity: a pilot study with 2 patients. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1996;34:446–452. [PubMed]
  8. MulIer-Vahl KR. Cannabinoids reduce symptoms of Tourette's syndrome. Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2003;4:1717–1725.[PubMed]
  9. Zuardi AW., Crippa JA., Hallak JE., Moreira FA., Guimaraes FS. Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent, as an antipsychotic drug. Braz J Med Biol Res. 2006;39:421–429. [PubMed]
  10. Woolridge E., Barton S., Samuel J., Osorio J., Dougherty A., Holdcroft A. Cannabis use in HIV for pain and other medical symptoms. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2005;29:358–67. [PubMed]
  11. Berlach DM., Shir Y., Ware MA. Experience with the synthetic cannabinoid nabilone in chronic noncancer pain. Pain Med. 2006;7:25–29. [PubMed]

Azuca Brings Innovative Artisan Edibles to Medical Market

—New Brand Leverages Breakthrough Technology to Offer Customizable Culinary Cannabis Experience—

NEW YORK (October 2018) — Azuca, a line of all-natural cannabis edibles and ingredients, is launching in the medical-use market, with products hitting shelves in the iAnthus network of dispensaries. Azuca’s product suite will fill the cannabis industry’s demand for an edible that offers a more controllable experience—not to mention a great taste.

The line consists of a variety of cannabis-infused sweeteners and syrups in THC, CBD and combination formulas, which can be added to food and beverages as the building blocks of a sophisticated culinary cannabis experience. Products are available in a wide range of flavors, all made in artisan batches to deliver medical benefits that not only provide patients with discreet relief, but are delicious as well. In addition to the sweeteners—with flavor options including lemon, pomegranate and orange—the line also offers an array of shortbread cookies, chocolate coins and Pâte de Fruit in both high and low doses, customizable for individual medical needs.

Azuca products are set apart by their patent-pending technology, developed by Azuca Founder and Chief Creative Officer Ron Silver, which wraps the cannabis molecules to make them more water soluble, allowing for easy digestion in the stomach, and avoiding the gut and liver where cannabis is degraded and absorption is slowed. Increased water solubility is associated with increased bioavailability and faster onset, enabling patients to more accurately and effectively medicate.

Silver brings a unique set of expertise to the cannabis market, as a renowned chef and owner of Bubby’s, a popular brunch destination with two locations in New York City and seven in Japan. Recognizing a void for trustworthy edibles in the marketplace, Silver developed the underlying technology for Azuca over a two-year period of R&D, before infusing it into specially crafted edibles that combine the science with chef-quality taste to offer medical relief in a safer, more desirable way.

Azuca is licensing its Intellectual Property to iAnthus, to bring its innovative cannabis solutions to iAnthus affiliates like the Massachusetts Registered Medical Dispensary, Mayflower Medicinals. Mayflower Medicinals will cultivate and manufacture world-class cannabis products out of its 36,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art production facility in Holliston, MA.

“Even as cannabis becomes less stigmatized in the U.S., there is still a widespread issue with edibles causing unpredictable and negative experiences. Cannabis is a powerful medicinal plant with a myriad of health benefits that should not be deterred by a lack of trust. To resolve the common problems plaguing today’s consumers, Azuca edibles utilize a unique technology that delivers a more controllable effect. Launching with iAnthus is the first of many milestones for Azuca, as we continue to grow our brand and push the boundaries of product innovation,” said Silver.

Leading the Azuca management team is Kim Sanchez Rael, CEO, who has entered the cannabis industry with over 20 years of entrepreneurial start-up, executive management, policy and venture investing experience.

# # #

About Azuca

Azuca is a privately-held, investor-backed cannabis company which commercializes a line of edible products using patent-pending technology. This technology wraps cannabis molecules in order to make them more water soluble, to increase bioavailability and effectiveness and minimize wait-time for more controlled, reliable edibles.

The Azuca product line consists of sweeteners and syrups which can be added to food and beverages as the building blocks of a sophisticated culinary cannabis experience. CBD products are anticipated to be available nationwide from late 2018, while THC products will be launching through licensed dispensaries in legal cannabis markets.

The Cannabis Market

Azuca is tapping into the burgeoning cannabis market with its edible line. According to industry estimates, the legal cannabis market is expected to grow to $50 billion by 2026. Currently recreational use is legal in nine states plus Washington D.C., while medical marijuana is legal in 30 states, with edibles representing a fast-growing segment.  New adopters are often health conscious and averse to smoking and vaping, making cannabis edibles the ideal solution.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Gabrielle Wesseldyk at gabrielle@rosengrouppr.com or 212.255.0945.


Leading Edibles Brand Azuca Launches CBD Division

—New Executive Sales Director and General Manager Join World-Class Team—

NEW YORK (October 30, 2018) — Azuca—the line of all-natural cannabis edibles and ingredients founded by Chef Ron Silver—today announced the launch of its CBD division, with plans to offer hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) simple syrup direct to consumers as well as to restaurants, bars and coffee shops through a wholesale model.

To foster and support growth of the CBD business, Azuca has expanded its ranks with the addition of two new sales-savvy team members, enhancing the company’s experienced lineup of culinary and cannabis industry professionals.

Barney Stacher joins the Azuca team as Executive Sales Director, spearheading sales initiatives and leading the sales infrastructure process for Azuca’s CBD division. Stacher’s responsibilities will include driving both business-to-business and direct-to-consumer deals. He comes to Azuca with more than 20 years of experience in directing business development initiatives in sales, marketing, and product strategy. Stacher has worked closely with leading brands—including Hyatt and Macy’s—across the retail, food, hospitality and tech industries to analyze diverse information and produce valuable insights. Prior to joining Azuca, Stacher launched the iced tea brand Teany with electronic musician Moby. Stacher has a proven track record of facilitating teams to expedite innovation and generate revenue.

“I have always been motivated by a strong passion for communicating the value of emerging brands with unique stories to tell,” Stacher said. “When I first learned about Azuca, I was immediately captivated by the brand message, groundbreaking technology and delicious taste—all culminating in a truly innovative product that is distinct from any other CBD offering on the market. I’m eager to play an active role in making Azuca a national, household name by connecting consumers and business owners alike with Azuca’s high-quality and versatile ingredients and edibles that appeal to both cannabis experts and novices.”

Jonathan Teeters joins as General Manager of Azuca’s CBD Division and Director of Business Development. Teeters served on the Board of Directors for the Minority Cannabis Business Association and brings deep industry experience in the cannabis space, most recently leading a team in Washington to open the first dispensary on an Indian Reservation for a Native American tribe. Teeters previously served as Director of Operations at the prominent cannabis publication, DOPE Magazine, and founded NorthStar Therapeutics, an online marketplace offering CBD therapeutic products direct to consumers.

“As the momentum for widespread legalization continues to pick up speed, new cannabis startups are emerging left and right. In this increasingly crowded and competitive landscape, it’s imperative for brands to stand out and differentiate themselves,” Teeters said. “I’ve seen countless cannabis companies open and close their doors over the last half-decade, and I’ve developed an instinct for identifying the most viable products. Azuca not only demonstrates immense potential from both a consumer-facing and wholesale perspective, but it also represents the ‘gold standard’ that other companies should strive to achieve from a product development standpoint. It’s an honor to join a skilled and ambitious team that is going above and beyond to elevate the CBD sector with unparalleled precision and reliability.”

“With two accomplished new team members joining, Azuca’s CBD division is poised for unprecedented success,” said Kim Rael, Azuca CEO. “Barney and Jonathan’s experience in brand building and sales marketing ushers in an exciting period of growth for Azuca. As we continue to expand our team, product line and national reach, we look forward to providing both new and veteran customers with the comfort and relief they seek in our approachable, natural and trustworthy edibles and ingredients.”

# # #

About Azuca

Azuca is a privately-held, investor-backed cannabis company which commercializes a line of edible products using patent-pending technology. This technology envelops cannabis molecules in order to make them more water soluble, increasing bioavailability and effectiveness and minimizing latency for more controlled, reliable edibles.

The Azuca CBD introductory product line consists of sweeteners and syrups which can be added to food and beverages as the building blocks of a sophisticated culinary cannabis experience. Additional CBD products are anticipated to be available nationwide in 2019, while THC products are launching through licensed partners and dispensaries in legal cannabis markets.

The Cannabis Market

Azuca is tapping into the burgeoning cannabis market with its edible line. According to industry estimates, the legal cannabis market is expected to grow to $50 billion by 2026. Currently recreational use is legal in nine states plus Washington D.C., while medical marijuana is legal in 31 states, with edibles representing a fast-growing segment.  New adopters are often health conscious and averse to smoking and vaping, making cannabis edibles the ideal solution.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Gabrielle Wesseldyk at gabrielle@rosengrouppr.com or 212.255.0945.


Meet Quino Baca: Head of the Kitchen Crew Behind Azuca

Chef turned cannabis culinarian, Joaquin (Quino) Baca is one of the key creative forces behind Azuca.

A member of the Azuca team since the very beginning, Quino has helped build out a product line of pioneering cannabis edibles that not only taste amazing, but also set an industry standard for what it means to provide consumers with a trustworthy, consistent and reliable cannabis product.

Quino’s resume touts headlining names like Momofuku Noodle Bar, Ko and Ssäm Bar, which he opened up with food industry mogul and former business partner David Chang before venturing off on his own to open up Brooklyn Star in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The Southwestern-meets-New-American style restaurant was a local gem and married Quino’s New York-based ambitions with his penchant for the smoky, Southwestern flavors he grew to love while living with cattle-ranching relatives in Texas. His latest restaurant, Teo, is set to open later this year.

Curious to hear chef Quino’s perspective on his new role with Azuca? We were, too.

In a recent Q&A session, Quino shared his thoughts on helming the kitchen crew of Azuca, his favorite product, and what he’s up to when he’s not in production mode (spoiler alert: chefs are always on the clock). Read on to see what he said.

How have your skills as a chef transferred to your role at Azuca?

Production and R&D are two major parts of my role at Azuca. The production part is second-nature to me. Logistics, organization – those are integral aspects of running a restaurant kitchen, and that’s what I do for a living. On the R&D side, my chef skills and experience come into play by way of problem-solving and ideas for inspiration. What I’m doing at Azuca is still ‘chef work,’ just on a slightly different scale with a slightly different medium.

What has surprised you the most about the process of producing a cannabis edibles line?

What’s most surprising about this whole process is being in a field that’s in such a nascent stage. There’s nothing to go on – no recipe book, very few pre-existing guidelines. It’s all super fascinating, but also a huge challenge because we have to come up with answers to problems that haven’t been solved.

Has that been the biggest challenge then – the fact that the edibles world is, for the most part, uncharted territory?

That’s definitely been one of the major challenges. Having to start from scratch is tough in and of itself, and with so few guidelines and regulations, the learning curve is steep. Other challenges we’ve faced so far have been related to the science and technology that’s involved with making such a precise, fast-acting and reliable product.

As chefs, we know how to make dishes and their component parts, but we’re used to taking tastes here and there, and figuring out what’s missing. When we do this, the end product is undoubtedly delicious, but there’s also a slight variance from dish to dish. We don’t do that with Azuca products, this is not that kind of environment. Scientific exactitude is of the utmost importance here, so we’re always sure to be hyper-organized and exact in everything we do.

What have been the successes?

Being that the edibles world is one without a lot of guidelines, trial and error has played a big role in getting us to where we are today. A lot of our successes have come about as a result of accidents and mistakes because they allow us the opportunity to go back to the drawing board and see where we went wrong. We’re constantly learning better and more efficient techniques, improving our products and dreaming up new ideas so that Azuca remains an innovative and exciting – while also reliable and trustworthy – product for our customers.

How did you become involved with Azuca?

I’ve known Ron [Silver; Azuca founder] since 2004, when I opened up Momofuku in the East Village. Ron and his family quickly became super regular customers at the restaurant and, since the initial design of Momofuku consisted of a small open kitchen, we got to know each other pretty well.

Ron and I have a lot in common since we’re both restaurant owners, and over the years we’ve had multiple talks about partnering up on a new venture – the problem was that the timing was never right. This time around with Azuca, the stars aligned. I’m in the middle of closing one restaurant and opening another [Teo], so when Ron came to me needing another set of hands, I thought, how can I resist?

What’s your favorite product from the line?

Pâte de fruits. A cool, old-school classic.

Where do you see Azuca in five years?

In five years, Azuca will be an industry gold standard. As a company, we are dedicated to removing the intimidation factor from edibles and providing people with a variety of products that allow them to customize their experience to their liking.

Sure, some people like to see brightly colored, Willy Wonka-inspired candies on the shelves, but we’re a product line, not a candy company and the reality is that a large number of people consuming edibles have little to no experience with cannabis. The friendly yet sophisticated, adult approach that we’re taking with Azuca is really important in this market and is going to be what helps solidify our reputation as one of the most trusted names in cannabis.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

As a restaurant chef, I’m always working. I also do carpentry, so right now I’m putting finishing touches on my new restaurant, Teo, before it opens later this year. Outside of all that, I love spending time with my son, Mateo – whose name inspired Teo – and I have hobbies like cycling, but my true passion is restaurants.


Renowned New York Chef Introduces Line of Innovative Cannabis Edibles

–Breakthrough Patent-Pending Product Offers Fast-Acting Effect–

NEW YORK (May 30, 2018)—Ron Silver, Chef and Owner of popular New York City brunch destination Bubby’s, today announced the launch of Azuca, a line of fast-acting cannabis edibles and ingredients made from chef-quality, all-natural ingredients. The product suite—which leverages first-of-its-kind, patent-pending technology—will fill the cannabis industry’s demand for a trustworthy edible product that offers a fast-acting, consistent effect.

Azuca is an idea that stems from both my career as a chef and entrepreneur, as well as my recognition of the cannabis industry’s critical need for trustworthy edibles, both for medical and adult use purposes. Edibles are notoriously unpredictable in their effects—you can never tell how long it will last, when it will hit, and its overall effect. We developed a way of resolving these issues so that the market finally has high-quality, artisan products. Our products taste great, and are safer and more predictable.” said Silver, Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Azuca.

Azuca launches with a variety of cannabis-infused sweeteners and syrups, which can be added to food and beverages as the building blocks of a sophisticated culinary cannabis experience. The product line includes a wide range of syrup flavors, such as almond, ginger, pomegranate, grapefruit and vanilla. Azuca products enable consumers to create their own flavor combinations.  Azuca sweeteners are available in varieties such as demerara cane sugar, maple sugar, coconut sugar, stevia, date sugar and agave.

Azuca CEO Kim Sanchez Rael added, “The combination of breakthrough science and culinary creativity is what makes Azuca truly unique. The launch of Azuca in New York today positions our brand as a leader in chef-created edibles and ingredients. Beyond New York, we are licensing our technology to partners in legal markets for the creation of our infused products.”

Azuca products are set apart by their fast-acting effects and high bioavailability. While an average edible can take 1 ½ hours or longer to take effect, Azuca works in 15-30 minutes. In terms of bioavailability, 18-22% of the active ingredient is metabolized with Azuca versus just 2-6% with competing edible products. This is achieved through a patent-pending technology, developed by Silver, which alters the shape of cannabis molecules to make them more water soluble, in turn allowing for more rapid, predictable and controllable effects.

Cannabidiol (CBD) Azuca products can be purchased in New York at Bubby’s restaurants inside lemonades, coffees or teas. In legal marijuana markets, Azuca will be launching THC-based products sold through licensed dispensaries, beginning in Massachusetts this summer.

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About Azuca

Azuca is a privately-held, investor-backed cannabis company which commercializes a line of edible products using patent-pending technology. This technology alters the shape of cannabis molecules in order to make them more water soluble, to increase bioavailability and effectiveness and minimize wait-time for more controlled, trustworthy edibles.

The Azuca product line consists of sweeteners and syrups which can be added to food and beverages as the building blocks of a sophisticated culinary cannabis experience. CBD products are anticipated to be available nationwide from summer 2018, while THC products will be launching through licensed dispensaries in legal markets.

The Cannabis Market

Azuca is tapping into the burgeoning cannabis market with its edible line. According to industry estimates, the legal cannabis market is expected to grow to $50 billion by 2026. Currently recreational use is legal in eight states, while medical marijuana is legal in 30 states, with edibles representing a fast-growing segment.  New adopters are often health conscious and averse to smoking and vaping, making cannabis edibles the ideal solution.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Emily Kielthy at emily@rosengrouppr.com or 646.695.7045.