Roy Choi Talks Developing Philosophy Through Tacos

The Kogi BBQ Food Truck founder reflects on his ten-year milestone of being in the business.

Presented by New Balance
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Roy Choi Talks Developing Philosophy Through Tacos
Business of HYPE
10,598 Hypes 8 Comments

Business of HYPE is a weekly series brought to you by HYPEBEAST Radio and hosted by jeffstaple. It’s a show about creatives, brand-builders and entrepreneurs and the realities behind the dreams they’ve built. On today’s episode, Jeff sits down with chef and restaurateur Roy Choi in his newly-located Las Vegas home to discuss his thought process, early beginnings and newest venture.

Prior to being a restaurant industry staple, Roy spent 10 years working as a chef for various hotels and boutiques. It wasn’t until the 2008 recession left him unemployed did he decide to open Kogi Truck, a Korean-Mexican fusion taco truck, that disrupted the fine-dining-based food industry with its aggressive yet organic social media presence. And it all started on a dirty napkin.

“We literally started a business on a napkin,” recalls Choi. “We went in and put in $1500 [USD] into the business. Everything became instinctual at the time. Even though it was money I didn’t really have in a sense, everything was completely instinctual—where I didn’t second guess a fucking thing. Soon as I said let’s roll, we went to the produce market; we went to all of my old connects as a chef and went directly to the source and said, ‘Hey, we’ll come out the back, talk and buy directly from you–the meat, the purveyors, the produce, everything like that.’ Then we just started prepping, and I worked on the prototype. We all ate at the first one, and we looked at each other like we saw a ghost. We were possessed.”

Since then, Roy has reinvigorated the Koreatown, LA scene with restaurants such as Commissary, Pot Lobby Bar and Pot Cafe inside the Line Hotel. He most recently stepped outside his hometown to open Best Friend, a Korean restaurant reminiscent of Los Angeles that resides inside the Park MGM Hotel. As he opens up about his various ventures, Roy discusses transitioning from being an independent owner to working with bigger conglomerates to take a more centerstage role. 

So tune in to hear Roy reflect on the past decade, from taco truck owner to restaurant mogul, and what he calls “the perfect storm” needed to become the visionary he is today.

As always, thank you for tuning into HYPEBEAST Radio and Business of HYPE. You can subscribe to our channel on AppleSpotifySoundcloudStitcherOvercastAnchor or wherever else you get your podcasts. Please don’t forget to leave a comment or review.

Additionally, feel free to hit Jeff on Twitter, @jeffstaple, or via email at questions@businessofhype.com, and he may answer your question on a future episode.

This episode features references to the following:

1:22 – Roy’s move to Las Vegas
2:17 – Best Friend
3:09 – Park MGM Hotel
4:53 – Patrick Martinez, Travis Jensen, Fung
6:43 – Drawing inspiration from marijuana
9:00 – Kogi BBQ Truck
9:39 – 2008 Recession
10:34 – Twitter
13:11 – Kogi Truck
15:35 – Beverly Hilton Hotel
18:31 – Roy’s book, L.A. Son
22:49 – Natasha Phan, Choi’s Director of Business Development
25:31 – Vision & process
30:51 – Alibi Room, Commissary, POTThe Line Hotel
32:56 – Daniel Patterson
33:15 – 3 Worlds Cafe
36:37 – Michelin Star

 

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JEFFSTAPLE
In collaboration with
byt.nyc
Director
Daniel Navetta
Producer
christina hong/hypebeast
Photographer
Travis Jensen
Editor
Christina Hong/HYPEBEAST

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