Named one of Food & Wine magazine's Best New Chefs of 2010, Roy Choi is the Korean American chef behind Los Angeles restaurants Chego!, Sunny Spot, Alibi Room, A-Frame, 3 Worlds Cafe, POT and Commissary. 3 Worlds Cafe is a small smoothie shop and cafe he helped open in the heart of South Central, LA, with the neighbourhood-based Coalition for Responsible Community Development, fruit conglomerate Dole Packaged Foods and nearby Jefferson High School.
He has authored a New York Times bestselling cookbook/memoir L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food and has his own CNN.com series called Street Food.
He is also known as the "godfather of the food truck movement" thanks to his success with the much-celebrated Kogi, a Korean taco truck. At a time when chefs and food trucks were members of distinctly different classes of the food world, Choi had the gall to rent a truck with his partners and hit the streets of Los Angeles.
In 2014, writer/director/actor Jon Favreau collaborated with Choi on the movie Chef, which is about an upmarket restaurant chef who quits fine dining and opens a food truck in Los Angeles serving Cuban-style sandwiches. One of the food truck scenes in Chef was shot in Abbot Kinney Boulevard near Venice Beach, LA. "It was an important spot for Roy," said Favreau in a Los Angeles Eater article. "Because that's where his Kogi truck first started and that was the epicentre.”
With a pedigree that includes the Culinary Institute of America, Le Bernardin and the Beverly Hilton, Choi might not have seemed like a likely candidate to go roadside, hawking tacos on street corners. But this bold move garnered praise and attention of the food press and public alike. With his Korean-Mexican tacos as the star, Choi has expanded the vision that drives him: to keep building affordable, high-quality restaurants in inner cities.
As the California Sunday Magazine put it: "For him, the trendy juxtaposition of high and low culture is not just a culinary aesthetic: It’s a pathway to social change."