Chef Roy Choi strolls the streets of L.A.’s Koreatown. Behind him is the Westgate Apartment complex, where Choi and his business partners first developed the legendary Kogi taco, the Korean Mexican taco that birthed the modern food truck movement, nearly a decade ago.
It’s impossible to bottle up all that Roy Choi is – an L.A. local with street cred, a classically trained chef, a socially conscious leader of the food access movement – yet his new collection of sauces and seasonings for Williams Sonoma gets close. From the versatile Garlic Everything Sauce, which blends the essence of an everything bagel (garlic and sesame) with the savory kick of gochujang fermented red chile paste, to A Pinch of LA, a Korean-style seasoning blend of toasted sesame and kochukaru chiles, each one was designed to have a “one-splash magic” – just one splash, sprinkle or slather will give your dish that unique, crave-able flavor Choi is known for.
As we stroll through L.A.’s Koreatown for our photo shoot with Choi, it becomes clear that he doesn’t walk through the neighborhood without being noticed. As he crosses the street, a friend leans out her car window and yells, “You gotta smile!” He strolls down Wilshire Boulevard past a wall plastered with posters for LocoL, his partnership for a socially conscious fast food restaurant, and ducks inside the City Center on 6th, where he fist-bumps a friend behind the counter at the noodle joint.
“I was raised in Koreatown, and K-town has been a part of my life at every stage,” explains Choi. “What I love about it is that it’s not one thing – it’s old school, it’s modern, it’s parties, it’s families.” It’s all remarkably similar to the way Choi sees food – not as one defined dish or ingredient, but as the beginning of a great remix – something personal and more than the sum of its parts. “I’m a student but I’m also a rebel of the game,” says Choi of his unique cooking style. “I’ve been cooking so long that I know how to retool a dish without fear, but with respect.”
It’s this approach that catapulted him to notoriety nearly a decade ago as the co-founder of the Kogi taco – a Korean-Mexican sensation that helped launch the modern food truck movement. From there he opened restaurants across Los Angeles including Chego, A-Frame, POT, Commissary, LocoL, and wrote an award-winning memoir, L.A. Son. His latest goal? To give fans outside of L.A. a taste of his flavors through this sauce and rub collection at Williams Sonoma. “I’ve been so fortunate that people have trusted me to represent Los Angeles,” says Choi. “Now I want to bring those flavors to the rest of the world.”
L.A.–based creatives he invited over for a first taste of his new sauces.