You've probably seen Nicole DiMascio on TikTok, but you probably know her better as @dope_kitchen. Her adventures, her recipes, and herself are all pretty dope. Nicole shares much of her life on TikTok, but what she is known best for getting “unapologetically baked in the kitchen," where she cooks delicious, nutritious, and often unplanned meals after smoking. In the background, you can see her super cool kitchen decked out with brightly-colored decor, trendy artwork, and a neon sign that bears her page name, “Dope Kitchen." I was lucky enough to chat with Nicole and learn about her journey with cannabis, her TikTok recipe creations, and what it's like to be "California Sober."

Spoon University: How long have you been smoking?

Nicole DiMascio: I smoked a joint for the first time at age 18, after senior prom in 2009. But cannabis didn't become a regular habit until it became recreationally legalized in 2018 in California. I had dabbled with cannabis a few times in college and grad school, but there were so many hoops to jump through to access it, and I was admittedly too lazy — and too scared of breaking laws — to do so.

SU: What is your favorite dish you have made while smoking?

ND: I just love making food with whatever is in my pantry and refrigerator at the time of smoking. Sometimes I go into making dinner — or especially filming a recipe — with an idea already in mind and that just didn't feel genuine to me. I've started to shift my process of how I cook for myself and for my audience by just coming up with something on the fly based on what I have on hand. I do have a very well-stocked pantry, though, so that makes things easy for me, no matter what I'm craving.

SU: Has there ever been a dish you made while high that was just a complete fail? If yes, what was it and what went wrong?

ND: Oh yeah, for sure! It's usually a dessert, because I'm not much of a baker, so anything that requires extreme precision and technical skills will almost always lead to a failed outcome. I've tried making souffle, macarons, lava cakes, and they just aren't nearly as good as they'd be if I had just walked to the local bakery to buy it from someone who gets paid to make a good dessert.

SU: Do you make any of the dishes beforehand to test the recipe or is it always spur of the moment?

ND: It's mostly a 'just go for it' vibe. Out of the hundreds of recipes I've made for the internet, only a handful of them are 'repeat recipes' from something I've made before filming. I prefer to film while I'm making something for the first time because that's when the authentic moments come into play that make my content as unique as it is. I strive to be a genuine presence on the internet, so that means I don't need to have practiced a recipe beforehand, and I don't need to have a perfectly stylized plate when I finish a recipe, I don't need to have the most tidy kitchen, etc. The more chaotic the process, the better my video turns out.

SU: What made you start cooking after smoking?

ND: Before my Dope Kitchen days, I guess the end of my 9 to 6 workday would be me lighting up a joint and making dinner. It was my "me" time, my time to relax and have fun hanging out with myself while I cooked dinner. At the start of the pandemic, I just decided to film myself while doing this process because I had nothing better to do as I quarantined alone in my studio apartment. I grew a following pretty quickly, and now I get to keep cooking while stoned — and sharing more of my adventurous and chaotic life — with over a million people on the Internet every day!

SU: I saw on TikTok your video discussing why you stopped drinking and moved towards smoking? Were people off-put by that at first?

ND: No, but I think that's mostly because I live in Los Angeles, am a big part of the fitness and strength sports community, and have surrounded myself with many friends who are into wellness and don't drink much or at all anyway. So I already had a great support system, and I live in a place where there are so many things to do that don't involve alcohol at all.

However, cutting out drinking did help me realize who my true friends were. I had "party" friends and my genuine, close friends that I could hang out with without involving any sort of substance. I do understand that my transition into the "California Sober" lifestyle is much easier than most, but overall, I do not regret giving up alcohol as it has made me much happier, more energized, less anxious, and more connected to myself and the people I choose to spend quality time with.

SU: Why do you think people have a different viewpoint toward those who consistently drink compared to those who consistently smoke? How do you believe this has shifted in recent years?

ND: Drinking has just been a huge part of our culture for generations. It's the "status quo" and has become so normalized to drink for a variety of reasons — to celebrate, to relax, to ease the stress of a work week, to bond with friends, to get through a tough time. But because marijuana has been, and is still illegal, in many places, it hasn't been normalized yet and people are still afraid of it. People still see it as a gateway drug to more destructive substances. Society still views stoners as lazy and unproductive members of society, when the complete opposite is actually true.

I believe the attitude toward cannabis users has begun to shift recently, especially since the start of the pandemic when many people started to gravitate toward a sober-curious lifestyle. People are finding that "plant medicines" — not just cannabis, but also mushrooms — are helping people feel more grounded, self-aware, in tune with their emotions, creative, productive, and more connected to people and nature around them. And that is much more than alcohol could ever do.

Cannabis remains a federally illegal substance in the United States. Possession and consumption depend on your state of residence and your age. Only consume cannabis if you are of legal age and in a state where possession and consumption is legal. The intoxifying effects of cannabis can be delayed and you should not consume cannabis if driving or operating machinery. The information provided in this article is for entertainment and informational purposes only, the accuracy of which has not been.