Chef J. Scot Jones is home, and he couldn't be happier.
The Fairlawn Heights native and vegan cuisine guru has taken the reigns as new head chef. The cafe will roll out his new vegan-friendly menu on April 16.
Jones, the former chef for Chrissie Hynde's vegan venture VegiTerranean, was out of a job when the joint was forced to close last year. Hynde wanted Jones to help open a new restaurant in California, but leasing plans fell through. Then, Ellen DeGeneres offered him a job, but what Jones really wanted was to come home.
Jones spent his childhood cooking with his family. He looked forward to Sunday dinners because it meant shopping for the right ingredients with his father and then spending the rest of the day in the kitchen.
"I knew then that this is what I wanted to do," Jones smiled. "I felt that I needed to come back home and finish the mission I started here. So I came home to my family and to the public who wanted more of what I was doing."
Jones' new menu caters to every appetite, from meat-lover to vegan, and if a customer sees a menu item that doesn't meet his or her needs, Jones insists that they order it their way.
"I'm working on wrapping my head around the right way of eating," Jones said of his vegan or vegetarian selections. "The times have changed and as chefs, we need to change. You can still get flavor from food without the fat."
All of Jones' dishes use food that can be bought in the Mustard Seed Market so consumers can replicate the dish at home.
Customers can look forward to trying hot Italian banana peppers in a fresh herb risotto, drizzled with basil lime sauce. Or look for the grilled and marinated cauliflower steak, complete with braised greens in a quinoa sautee and topped with an eggplant companata.
Guests even have the option of building their own burger, where everything that comes on the burger is picked by them.
Fans of the old Mustard Seed menu, fear not. One-quarter of the menu is still in tact, including flat breads and signature salads.
"This is a very fresh, forward-seasoned menu," Jones said. "And when I say forward-seasoned, I don't mean salt and pepper and garlic, I mean fresh herbs and accoutrements you use to bring the flavor out."
Mustard Seed co-owners Gabe and Abe Nabors are excited about the new path the cafe is taking.
"We get to create something that's completely new," Abe Nabors said. "It's fun and exciting. Mustard Seed has a great foundation to build on and our potential is vast."
Gabe Nabors agreed.
"The menu we have is four years old and it hasn't changed," he said. "We are excited to excite the customer again. We've had a lot of loyal customer support for years and they are excited for change as well."
Jones is excited to earn the trust of the customer, the same way the Nabors have for the last 30, soon to be 31, years.
"Everyone is welcome to the table," he smiled. "Whatever you want to be, you can eat here. We've touched based with every lifestyle on this menu and we want to succeed in the execution of what we serve you."