If you are a meat eater, prepare to be shocked by Crossroads Kitchen, a spectacular vegan restaurant which makes all your favorite dishes taste great—sans meat. Along with celebrity chef/founder Tal Ronnen, gay executive chef, Scot Jones serves up innovative cuisine to his culinary guests.
“I love the diversity of our clientele. Coming from Ohio, we didn’t have that; there are some very close minded people in the Republican state of Ohio. Out here it’s more open and welcoming. Being a gay chef in West Hollywood means I have got the corner, people really respect me and what we do here at Crossroads.”
To mirror the diversity of the people who come in, Crossroads has a wide ranging menu to satisfy any palate.
“People love Crossroads because we have great food. We change with the seasons, four times a year. We’re consistent; we’ve got flavor, texture and color. And it just so happens that we are plant based.”
Jones noted that not everyone who walks in the door are vegan or vegetarian. “I would say, 65 per cent of our clientele are not plant based lifestyle customers, but they love coming here because the food is so damm good. The culinary family here puts a lot of love into our dishes. We enjoy pushing the envelope so that we stay on top of things.”
While many other restaurants have multiple locations, Jones is happy with just the one location at the crossroads of Sweetzer and Melrose (8284 Melrose) in West Hollywood.
“To be consistent is very hard, if you have five restaurants. Tal and I don’t want that; we want this one that we concentrate on, that people come to as the mecca of great food. If Tal is not here, I’m here. That’s what makes a great restaurant.”
Many celebrities have come in to Crossroads. “You name it, they’ve been here!” Jones quipped. “It’s very humbling to Tap and I that they enjoy our food so much. We respect their privacy and they know they can trust us. You don’t see paparazzi hanging out here, because we built a $40,000 garage in the back.”
Jones spent many years developing his blend of Italian and Mediterranean recipes, and is a firm believer that healthy dining is not necessarily synonymous with minimalist surroundings and quiet contemplation.
“Crossroads is just as much of a neighborhood spot as it is a serious restaurant,” he said. “The food we’re creating is meant to be enjoyed both for its ingredients as much as the way we serve it.”
It was rocker Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders who first introduced Jones to Ronnen, who, according to Jones, “turned a light switch on in my head that every chef should have turned on” about the virtues of vegetable- based cuisine. Prior to meeting Ronnen, Jones had started to explore healthier culinary options as a way to help keep him in shape, and discovered that the enticing flavors of many of his favorite Italian dishes could be recreated without using meat.
In his down time, Jones is very involved with LGBTQ charities. “I do a lot with the LGBTQ Center in Hollywood. I back it and do as much as I can for them, with events. I also like to be involved with the AIDS Walk. It usually goes right by us but this year, they did another route this year. I asked my husband the other day, when is the date, as I like to give out food samples and water while it’s happening, and he’s like, “honey, it already happened!”
Gay waiter Matthew Swann has been working at Crossroads for the six months. “I have seen more imagination in Chef Tal Ronnen’s food than I’ve seen over 20 years of fine dining service.,” Swann swooned. “My favorite dish is his take on the crab cake, fashioned from hearts of palm.”
Chef Tal always adds the perfect Hollywood ending: “It’s so good it could make Hannibal Lecter a vegan!”