New York City is beaming with entrepreneurial women, and Higher Dining represents a luxe dining and smoker-centric experience like never before.
Together, sisters Roshelly Pena and Shanelly Pena offer an array of Mary Jane delectables to devour. Their hemp foundation was built upon the limitless parameters of their global culinary excursions. With a mission to uplift the narrative associated with cannabis products, Higher Dining tastefully curates menus and levitated entertainment of all sorts.
The Knockturnal caught up with the duo to discuss their popular hashish adorned dishes — Higher Dining custom-baked private affairs, sisterhood, and what legacy means to them. Find out why Higher Dining remains a trusted source within cannabis culture throughout New York City and abroad.
The Knockturnal: Describe the creative process of conceptualizing seasonal menus?
Shanelly Pena: For my mental health, I meditate a lot and smoke sometimes. [Laughs] Meditating has helped me with so much, and when I need to get into a groovy space or to get my mind [right]. Also, I write out my ideas, similarly to a creative paper [assignment].[The process can be as simplistic] as scribbling on a sheet — penning dish ideas, or seasonal ingredients that can be prepared together. I consider [an element] on its own, the colors we want each meal to represent — then voila! I like to take my time with the Higher Dining menus.
Food is my art, so if I feel like I rushed the process, I know I won’t deliver my best. When I have an event coming up, I think about the food, and review my notes until I am convinced it is delicious. To get in the mood of being creative, I have to make sure my self-care is on point, too.
Sometimes that will be a long bath, a blunt, or a day without my phone. I may choose to stay away from social media, or, of course, meditate. Other activities that get me inspired are dining out, and museum dates [alone].
The Knockturnal: Roshelly, what sets your pastries apart from competitors?
Roshelly Pena: When creating pastries I always think of my initial reaction when I’ve seen something I loved or became awestruck by. And, when I become inspired by something that, I make sure it tastes as good as it looks. I want my consumers to feel that same way when they see and try my pastries.
I want Higher Dining event-goers to fall in love, and to get excited. They will not want to leave one bite. I take pride in what I do. So, my attention to detail has to always be on point. I’m also a firm believer in transferring energies, especially through hands — another thing I do while creating these dishes is personal meditation.
The Knockturnal: You take pride in running a Latina-owned company. What advice do you have for young women of color who hope to do the same?
Shanelly Pena: I would tell them to face their fears and jump on the wagon. We are about to take over. As a woman of color, and my life experience as a Latina, the odds are consistently against you. Putting that thought behind you is essential to move forward. Our greatest limits are our minds, once you [believe in yourself,] you start winning.
I am a first generation American Latina, and always prideful of my culture. Running a business is not easier than working for someone else. I think it is more laborious work; still, when you are working with a purpose, action changes to passion. Be sure to be delicate and thoughtful with your brand. Don’t rush and give yourself space to become creative.
The Knockturnal: What does sisterhood mean to you?
Roshelly Pena: Sisterhood to me is a divine connection. It is unconditional love, a judgment-free zone. It’s kindness, vulnerability, and compassion. It’s a community of like-minded women; together they can create change. It creates a vision [beyond myself].
The Knockturnal: Shanelly, You are a working mother. How important is a legacy to you?
Shanelly Pena: I am working to leave my family with something they can build on. I do not want them to have to struggle financially. I want my son to [live free, and have to option to] turn his hobby into his career.
He should not endure the pressure of feeling rushed to get involved in a career he’s not even sure he enjoys. My job is to show my son proof that limits are in his mind. Most importantly, it is vital for me to live out my dreams, so my son can understand that he can seriously do anything he wants to. It is important to me that my son finds purpose and passion in life.
The Knockturnal: How do you conceptualize the entertainment at your events?
Roshelly Pena: I always think of different ways to make the experience better than the last. Between meditation, smoking sessions, going to new locations — whether it’s to eat, sightsee, or travel, I absorb the experience. I always look for inspiration wherever I go. Also, I start writing down my ideas in my notebook. Sometimes [an event idea] clicks right away. I consider what is next for Higher Dining. Sometimes it takes me a little more time.
The Knockturnal: What makes a Higher Dining event one-of-one?
Shanelly Pena: Every Higher Dining event is different — the energies are unique, and our menus are always refreshed. We try our best to have a variety of strains. We choose a theme for each event. Lastly, the decor, entertainment, and menu must still flow within the theme.
The Knockturnal: Who is Higher Dining?
Roshelly Pena: Higher Dining is a community of like-minded individuals who come together to enjoy a one-on-one experience. Together, they open up their palettes to different foods and strains of cannabis. It is a boutique event company comprised of two women who are passionate about living fully through cooking and forming a community.
Through our Higher Dining events, we offer a fully-catered experience. Also, we shape unique and customized menus, with jaw-dropping creativity, and unmatched attention to detail. We have a judgment-free environment where our guests can connect with each other and Mother Earth.