Sunday, April 06, 2014

Roy Choi Book-Signing

Kogi food truck

Not only is Roy Choi one of L.A.’s most celebrated chefs, he is also the father of the current food truck craze that began with his highly recognizable Kogi truck. Although originally focused on a blend of Mexican and Korean flavors that reflect his geographical and cultural upbringing, Choi’s palette now incorporates a broad mix of tastes—and all of them are good. He also owns several well-known brick-and-mortar restaurants in town, including Culver City’s A-Frame, which we love. Roy had a book-signing event at the Williams Sonoma store in Beverly Hills yesterday and we were there.

The BH Williams Sonoma is one of our best-kept secrets. Several times a month, they offer affordable weeknight cooking classes that I attend on occasion. These 2-to-3-hour classes are usually seasonal (e.g., how to make a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner or Easter brunch) and are always fun. Plus you get to eat what the chef has just demonstrated. The weekend classes tend to be free and only an hour long, so you can blow into Beverly Hills, watch a cooking demo (with usually the same small group of foodies), grab a quick snack, and be on your way, all without spending a dime. Unfortunately, we never leave Williams Sonoma without buying at least one or two things, but that’s another story altogether . . .

Williams Sonoma demonstration kitchen

The place was pretty much packed when we arrived yesterday. The Kogi truck was outside, but everyone was inside jostling for a good view of the demonstration kitchen. Two Williams Sonoma chefs were busily frying something in a pot of oil. In front of them were two platters piled high with what looked like brown balls of dough. Tim immediately tried one.

“They’re donuts covered in cinnamon and sugar,” he exclaimed after one bite, so I grabbed one. Very yummy. Tim saved us a good spot right next to the kitchen counter, while I ran our books up to the car. Roy Choi was standing by the Kogi truck, but no one bothered him.

Roy Choi and daughter making "ghetto donuts"

The event started at 1PM. Roy emerged with his young daughter and talked briefly about his early life in L.A. and how it eventually shaped his culinary philosophy. The donut recipe, which he demonstrated, was created during a period of addiction when he wanted fast food that was cheap as well as filling. The recipe is way simple: Pillsbury biscuits fried in Crisco and then covered with cinnamon, sugar and sesame seeds. Choi’s daughter helped make them. Shoppers could watch the demo for free, but you had to pay if you wanted a book (L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food) and specially-prepared lunch from the Kogi truck outside.

Waiting for tacos


As soon as Roy finished, we ran outside to the truck while everyone else got books signed. Tacos were the only thing on the menu—two per person. Tim got short rib and spicy pork; I got all chicken. Though small, they were scrumptious. We then went back inside and had a couple more donuts for dessert. And, oh yeah, bought an oil thermometer, so we could make our own “ghetto donuts.” Homemade donuts and ice cream, anyone?

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