The truth about Roy Choi and Jon Favreau's relationship - Exclusive

If you're a fan of the Netflix series, The Chef Show, chances are, you've marveled at the amazing on-screen banter between Roy Choi, the chef this show is named for, and the director, Jon Favreau. Of course, it's always fun to see Choi vibe with the various celebs that make appearances in the kitchen with him — from Tom Holland to Seth Rogen — and flipping over to HBO, perhaps you caught Roy on Selena + Chef, teaching Selena Gomez how to make a breakfast taco. But, let's be honest. Nothing really compares to Roy's riffs with Jon. The common takeaway after seeing these two dudes cook together is, "But I want to hang with these guys!" according to Uproxx. So, what's the back story?

In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Choi revealed the truth about his friendship with Favreau... and how it all started with research for Chef – a widely acclaimed film which was inspired by Choi's life.

Roy Choi was a big fan of Jon Favreau before they met

While Jon Favreau was making a name for himself with several blockbuster movies, Roy Choi was just beginning to emerge from obscurity, mainly because of his Twitter posts about his Korean food truck, Kogi BBQ. "I was a fan of his," Choi said. "I remember first seeing Swingers when I was in culinary school. No — just before I was in culinary school, and I was watching it on videotape." This movie came out in 1996 (per IMDb), so indeed, the VHS player was not yet an antique. "I was a huge fan of him and his movies from that, to Made to Avengers, to Ironman, to Zathura, everything."

As much as Choi admired Favreau, he never expected that their paths would one day not only cross — but that they'd end up working together. "It wasn't even in my imagination that I would ever meet him!" Choi added. "And then I got a call that he was looking for a creative culinary consultant, and that he would like to meet me. And it went very quick. It was one of those calls you get in a movie: "He wants to meet you right now!' And so we met that night." The rest, of course, is history.

Choi and Favreau spent six hours together the first time they met

Favreau had wanted to meet with Choi to do research for a movie about a charismatic food truck owner — sound at all familiar? According to Choi, the director wanted to get a sense of what a typical day-in-the-life — or in his case, night-in-the-life — was actually like. "He met me on one of my work routes," Choi recalled. "This was before I knew him."

Choi said he was nervous about being in the presence of his idol, and was glad to have Favreau just tag along as he checked on his trucks, rather than the two of them sitting down for a lengthy interview. "I had to bring him onto my home court, just to be able to talk to him without being nervous and stumbling over my words and everything," Choi explained. "So what I usually do is I go around to all my restaurants and trucks throughout the night and throughout the day. And then I go check in for a half hour or an hour at each place, taste everything, say hi to everybody, give everyone a hug, check out the dining room, make sure everything's good, and move on to the next place. So that's what we did. So we spent all that time going to different places, being in the car, from place to place, just talking and hanging out."

This turned out to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. "And from the moment we met, on that six-hour night, to the end of filming, we were inseparable," Choi said.

During the filming of Chef, Choi and Favreau grew closer

Both Choi and Favreau thought at first that the extent of their relationship was just going to be preparing for the movie Chef. "Everything about it was supposed to be a job. I've spoken before about it, but it's very similar, like if he was training for a boxing movie. I was just supposed to go in for two or three weeks, or three months or whatever, the most, go in and teach him how to box — in this case, teach him how to cook — and slip out," he explained.

As much as he had enjoyed working with Favreau, Choi didn't kid himself that the two would stay close after Chef was a wrap. "In Hollywood, when the movie ends — I know it now — when the movie ends, it ends, it ends," he added. Referring to the actor and the boxer: "They go their separate ways." When it was finally time to move on, the separation was painful. "For Jon and I, we had spent everyday together. So by that point, it was seven months, eight months of spending that much time together. From meeting, to pre production, to filming the movie, to editing the movie, all that," he explained. "And it was over!"

According to Choi, the two made a few attempts to stay in contact. "And it was like summer camp ending," he said. "We would write each other letters, and emails, and text each other once in a while. But it wasn't the same."

The Chef Show was born from Choi and Favreau missing each other

Clearly in withdrawal, Choi said the two began thinking of ways that they could work together again. "So every day, we kept looking for excuses of how to hang out together," he recalled. "So we would throw pop-ups together. We imagined and fantasized about opening the restaurant together and all these things." At last, though, Choi and Favreau had a lightbulb moment. "And then finally we started The Chef Show together, and that gave us an excuse to hang out," he explained.

In fact, Choi's favorite episodes of this show are not those that feature celebrities; he prefers when it's just these two now-longtime friends, chit-chatting and cooking. "I always love cooking with Jon," Choi said. "I always love the episodes where it's just Jon and I cooking." Even the episode where they made "Scarlett's pasta," a nod to the dish Favreau's character makes for Scarlett Johansson in Chef, was as much about their friendship as it was this dish. "I think definitely making the Scarlett's pasta, is not only an iconic moment in the history [of the show], but also a very special one for Jon and I," he explained. "I love that dish. I love every time we cook that dish together."

Catch Roy Choi and Jon Favreau in Season 2, Volume 1 of The Chef Show, streaming now on Netflix.