Roy Choi Just Opened Up To Fans About His Pandemic Motivations

Chef Roy Choi is a bad boy with a heart of gold. Read his 2013 memoir L.A. Son, and the bad-boy stuff jumps out at you: Choi threw some roadblocks onto his own path with excessive alcohol, drugs, and gambling in his youth (via Los Angeles Times).

Don't let all the tattoos and the rough-and-tumble backstory fool you. That's a good heart that is leading the way in Choi's life. It was on full display March 2 on Instagram, where Choi detailed his plan to help people during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Coming from a chef, the idea is as fundamental as it gets: Feed people who need to be fed, for free, no questions asked.

Choi's life is glamorous enough on one level. He opened a big, neon, hip-hop-meets-Koreatown restaurant in Las Vegas (via GQ). He's also a TV personality, co-hosting The Chef Show on Netflix. But Choi has not lost his feel for basic human needs, and he's going to tackle that problem the same way he approached his Las Vegas restaurant: more heart than rational things like business plans.

"There's no business plan," Choi told GQ, in a 2019 interview about the Las Vegas restaurant. "Everything's about taking care of people, bringing joy and what I call the different type of currency: the currency of connectivity and love and nourishment and caring and giving a [crap] about each other."

Roy Choi wants to create a nonprofit to feed people in need

In his March 2 post, Roy Choi reflected on the failures in society that have been exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. "The lack of accessibility and affordability, especially in food, nutrition, and healthcare ... make the divide even deeper," he wrote. "I don't have all the answers ... But on the streets, feeding, you can't tell me nothing. Invincible. Because the only thing I answer to is the truth and our collective unity."

Choi and his Kogi BBQ food truck have been hosting free-food "drive-thrus" since the first days of the pandemic: way back in March 2020 in San Gabriel, California (via Cal State Fullerton); in May 2020 with the L.A. Galaxy soccer team and the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank (via CBS Los Angeles); and on February 28 in Long Beach, where he served 700 meals, primarily to people in the hospitality industry (via Long Beach Post). This latest effort was co-sponsored by Voodoo Ranger IPA.

"Each time we do these drive-thrus, I'm laying bricks to what I hope will one day become my nonprofit foundation that can live and put love into the world long after my physical body leaves the earth," Choi wrote on Instagram. "Because feeding folks for free, no questions asked, is what it's all about." Choi is accepting donations for this effort through a link at the top of the page at