Time magazine dropped its annual list of the year's 100 Most Influential People today and among the names you'd expect — Pope Francis, Stephen Curry, Donald Trump, Kendrick Lamar — is one you might not: Roy Choi.
The L.A. culinary guru behind Kogi, LocoL and other restaurants is the only chef to make this year's list. His entry in Time's 100, categorized under the “Pioneers” section, was penned by fellow food icon Anthony Bourdain, whose Ecco imprint co-published Choi's memoir, L.A. Son, back in 2013. The laurel is yet another national accolade for Choi, who was most recently included as a James Beard Award semifinal nomination for Outstanding Restaurateur.
Here's what Bourdain had to say about Choi:
Roy Choi first changed the world when he elevated the food-truck concept from “roach coach” to highly sought-after, ultra-hot-yet-democratic rolling restaurant. It was a new entrepreneurial model that allowed talented culinarians to make their mark without hundreds of thousands of dollars in investor money. Choi’s Kogi trucks also pioneered the use of social media as a marketing tool.
Now he and fellow chef Daniel Patterson are changing the world with their ambitious startup, LocoL, whose goal is to bring healthy food, at an affordable price, to underserved inner-city neighborhoods across America while employing residents of those neighborhoods — basically, replacing traditional fast food with a more positive, socially responsible institution. Chef, activist, film producer, restaurateur and author of a superb memoir, L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food, Roy Choi has put it all on the line to improve the quality of life for people few others seem to care about. It’s not a pose, it’s not a cause: It’s who he is.