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Q&A with Vegan Chef Tal Ronnen

Vegan Crab Cakes

Chef Tal’s crabless cakes


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PlumpJack Cafe teams up with Wanderlust Festival and one 
of the most celebrated vegan 
chefs Tal Ronnen for the first ever “Vegan Farm To Table Dinner” presented by Gardein. Join us on the patio Thursday July 17th at Plumpjack Squaw Valley Inn. Diners will experience a delectable four-course vegan dinner featuring plant-based proteins and locally sourced organic fruits and vegetables. The menu will also include a delectable assortment of artisanal nut milk-based cheeses from Kite Hill. Tal is a partner in the company, whose cheese was the first non-dairy cheese sold in Whole Foods’ esteemed cheese department, as opposed to the processed cheese or vegan cheese section, where all non-dairy cheese had lived prior to Kite Hill’s arrival. Pretty impressive! We caught up with Tal for a quick Q&A before he graces the PlumpJack patio next week. Hey, we’re not Ellen, but we are so excited to host such a renowned culinary figure and learn more about being vegan. Bon appétit!
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What’s your go-to vegan comfort food/dish?
Peanut butter and jelly.
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What are some of your pantry staples?

  • nutritional yeast flakes are great for texture and have a rich, nutty flavor. They’re good on anything from pasta to popcorn.
  • black garlic is available everywhere now and it has a great soft, sweet taste. I toss it with broccoli or make a vinaigrette with it.
  • white balsamic vinegar is light and makes nice light vinaigrettes.

What kind of advice do you have for someone who is thinking about transitioning to a vegan diet?
Take it slow – start with a day or two a week and progress from there. Check out ethnic restaurants that inherently have vegan cuisine like Indian, Thai, Chinese, or convert your favorite recipes using non-animal alternatives.
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What are your favorite seasonal ingredients?
Summer: stonefruitcranberry beans
Fall: applesbeetsartichokes
Winter: root vegetables
Spring: english peasfava beans
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Was there a defining moment when you decided to become a chef? Were you always a vegan chef?
Yes – when I crossed over to becoming a vegetarian, I was frustrated by being served the side dishes as main plates at restaurants I used to go to.
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What’s your favorite vegan-friendly travel destination?
San Francisco has a lot of wonderful restaurants. Even the non-vegan restaurants have great vegan food.
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How did you get involved with Wanderlust? Tell us about the vegan dinner you’re presenting on July 17th with PlumpJack Café?
My good friend Yves, the founder of Gardein, asked me to be a part of it.
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What do you love most about living in Los Angeles?
Sunny weather! I love waking up to sunshine.
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Tal Ronnen CookbookIncluded in Thursday’s dinner ticket price are two glasses of wine and a complimentary copy of Chef Tal’s award-winning cookbook The Conscious Cook. Busting notorious vegan myths including “You won’t get enough protein” and “It’s boring to eat vegan,” this cookbook encourages all to sample a taste of healthy, ethical, environmentally-friendly eating, without pushing an agenda. “It’s easy to be convincing when the food is delicious,” Chef Tal states, backed by his success at opening minds and menus to vegan options. “It doesn’t feel like a sacrifice—it feels like a step up.”