Rebel Radio Ep. 25: Chef Roy Choi - The World's First Hip-Hop Chef
Adam Weissman is an old friend and a guy I play tennis with regularly. He’s also an art director at Stüssy, video director for clients such as Nike, one third of the obscure but credible post-trip-hop (I say that as if it’s a thing) band Pollyn, occasional DJ, and aspiring screenwriter. You might call him a restless creative.
Today he brings his friend and collaborator Roy Choi — in many ways the most important chef Los Angeles has given the world since Wolfgang Puck — to the Rebel Radio studio. Roy is the man most responsible for transforming food trucks from the lowly all-white roach coaches seen mainly at construction sites into the elevated cultural phenomenon now found on TV, movies, and pretty much every cool corner and workplace in America. He and his partners at the Kogi truck empire not only gave most Americans their first taste of Korean food, but are a driving force in the democratization of gourmet food. And also possibly the first food brand built in social media.
The two often work on projects together. On today’s show, the renaissance man, the world’s first hip-hop chef, and your humble host explore what it takes to do meaningful work and build a fan base in the process.
“We didn’t know what it was and we didn’t know what we were going to do next but we just knew in that moment that something was happening. I knew that the food was good. I had this confidence and a little bit of a swagger like, “Yo, you’re going to eat this shit and love it.” No substitutions and I don’t what to hear nothing. Then as I saw them eating it my sensitive side was picking up on all of these little sound bites and emotions. “What the fuck them Asians doing up in the truck?” Everyone curious. The bigger dudes calling the girls over and saying, “I’m going to buy everyone a taco right here.” And so there was all this weird energy happening and I knew that we hit something at that moment because everyone was engaged.” - Roy Choi, on the first night on the Kogi Truck
“I try not to overthink it. I just try to do what feels right. If it feels right, cool. If it doesn’t throw it away and start again, do something else.” - Adam Weissman, on trusting your gut.
“There was no agenda. We weren’t looking for followers. We weren’t looking for attention. We just stumbled upon this thing and we were messing around with it and I think because of that that was very powerful... Things definitely go viral still. It’s so saturated sometimes no one is doing anything original and it’s just selfies and all this shit all this fucking trash that nothing is coming through. But something will.” - Roy Choi, on using social media, then and now.