Adrian Niman knows his way around the food industry. He founded The Food Dudes 14 years ago, when he was just 22, and has spent the last decade and a half looking for new ways to explore his culinary passion while injecting youthful energy into the Toronto food industry. Although the last year presented many challenges, it also provided the energetic foodie with a rare opportunity to make forays into uncharted culinary territory.
Three years ago, the opportunity came for Niman to partner with John B. Aird and Sarah Gillin of Olli Brands on a line of cannabis-infused food products, and Niman took the chance to venture into yet another facet of the food industry. They struck a deal, built a state-of-the-art facility in the west end of Toronto, and set to work.
The result is a range of cannabis chews, teas and brownies created with the highest-quality ingredients.
“We can guarantee that our products are much more nutritious and more beneficial for you than anything else on the market,” Niman says, pointing to the natural benefits of cannabis as a treatment for anxiety, physical pain and more.
Niman, Aird and Gillin hired a team of industry professionals to help them develop their line — the soft chews in both strawberry and dragon fruit flavours are available now (priced at $7.90 per pack), and the teas and brownies will drop by the end of the year.
A food scientist ensured that the goodies have a shelf life of up to six months without sacrificing the flavour profile.
“I’ve been able to work with them on a bunch of ideas,” Niman says. “And now we have such a great team. They come to us with ideas, and it makes my job really fun. I just get to come in and see what they’ve been working on and try their amazing products.”
But that wasn’t the only new venture for Niman in 2020. This recent launch comes on the heels of Niman’s experience with Hotel X, catering for the hotel’s NHL playoff bubble. He was given the task a mere 10 days after signing a deal to cater for Hotel X.
As a former competitive hockey player and a big fan, it was an experience that Niman says brought endless positivity to 2020.
“We took over our first hotel deal and then 10 days later, we’re told they won the bid to be able to be one of the hotels to cater to the players and teams. I ended up having to live in the hotel for 40 days and 40 nights,” he says. “We had to launch three different restaurants and run a breakfast, lunch, and dinner banquet for all the teams every single day.”
The players recognized his efforts, and Sidney Crosby even signed a stick for him. “It was definitely the highlight of 2020 for me, in a year that was full of so much despair,” he says.
For 2021, Niman and The Food Dudes are working to open more Blondie’s pizza locations and continue to establish their name with Fare by The Food Dudes, a grocery and gift experience that provides curated boxes and experiences for six different themes. But, more importantly, he’s looking forward to a COVID-free future.
“Really, it’s just trying to stay patient and wait for everyone to get vaccinated so that we can get back to doing what we love,” he says. “And that’s cooking for people.”