Roy Choi on Chef: "I Only Know How to Approach Things With Honesty"
Chef Roy Choi is a rare breed. Part food celebrity, part everyman, he's celebrated for churning out seriously good, unpretentious food. We largely have him to thank for bringing food trucks to the masses. His Kogi BBQ trucks specialize in tacos, the most famous of which is filled with Korean barbecue short rib, heightened with salsa roja made from Mexican and Korean chilies, cilantro-onion-lime relish, and chili-soy slaw.
Courtesy Open Road Films John Leguizamo (left), Jon Favreau, and Roy Choi
Now he can officially call himself a food consultant and coproducer with the release of Chef, a film written and directed by Jon Favreau. If it wasn't for Choi, Favreau might not look so convincing as a chef who loses his restaurant job and starts up a food truck with the hope of regaining his inspiration and family. Short Order spoke with Choi to reveal the ins and outs of cooking on film, food trucks, and his source of creativity.
Short Order: Have you ever been involved in a movie before? What made you want to work on Chef?
Roy Choi: Not at this level. I've been around the industry, living in L.A., and the Kogi food truck feeds people in the industry all the time. Of course the project itself was appealing, bringing a chef's life to film, but I really did the project because of Jon [Favreau]. His approach and philosophy of getting it right, really going in and understanding the culture, was reason enough.
What sort of skills or techniques did Jon want to learn about cooking?
He wanted to learn about everything. That's what made the film impactful -- he didn't want to learn just how to do it, like how to just chop an onion; he wanted to immerse himself in it and go through the process and journey of how to be one with the onion. He applied that thinking to every station he worked on.