Roy Choi’s flavorful journey

chef-roy-choiRoy Choi was born in South Korea in 1970 but raised in Los Angeles. In his new book, L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food  (Anthony Bourdain/Ecco, 2013), he tells his tale of being an immigrant misfit (embarrassed by the Korean cuisine in his lunch box) who finds a place in the L.A. biker culture, makes friends with drugs and gambling, and eventually focuses his addictive personality on creatively fusing flavors from all influences in his life and feeding people via his four restaurants and small fleet of food trucks.

The verbally gifted Choi captures the joy, determination, and diversity that immigrants bring to their new home, as well as the inevitable struggles. His irrepressible personality and his wide range of experiences—from poor immigrant to nouveau riche suburbanite, from addict to entrepreneur—remind us of the beauty and uniqueness of each person’s story, when embraced and (luckily for us) expressed.

home-banner-truckChoi is also an outspoken advocate for addressing hunger. At the MAD Symposium chefs’ gathering last fall, he talked about how food trucks, while a wonderful asset, are the result of the poverty, crime, and hunger issues that plague his city. “What language are we speaking as chefs?” he asked MAD attendees, urging them to use their platform and position to address social issues. “Are we just feeding the privileged? There’s nothing wrong with the fact that they can afford it, but are we feeding people just because they can afford it? We’re feeding a small populace, but we think we’re feeding the world.” Learn more at KogiBBQ.com/blog.

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