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The Untold Truth Of Esther Choi
Esther Choi’s passion for food started young, with inspiration from her grandmother. In 2014, years after her first job at a restaurant in New Jersey, she opened her own restaurant — Mŏkbar — at age 28.
Mŏkbar became an instant hit, earning awards and local accolades, with an appetizer based on her grandmother’s dumpling recipe turning into the most popular menu item. Choi went on to open the second Mŏkbar location, revamping the menu to reflect more traditional Korean dishes.
In 2017 she co-opened a gastropub named “Ms. Yoo,” after her grandmother, offering an inverse of Mŏkbar’s restaurants — American dishes with Korean flavors. She has since opened up several Mŏkbar locations throughout the upper east coast.
Before opening her first restaurant, Choi worked in the purchasing department at Food Network, later making several appearances in network shows. Her first appearance was on "Beat Bobby Flay," Season 2, and she later featured in "Her Name Is Chef," the 2021 documentary about sexism in the restaurant industry.
Esther Choi's ascension to TV celebrity coincides with increasing mainstream acceptance of cannabis. Her winning recipes on a 2019 episode of “Bong Appetit” proved her expertise in the kitchen, and she has created a CBD-infused sesame oil called Sessy.
Choi isn’t just a restaurateur anymore, as she also developed her own three-part video series, "Life of a Restaurateur," on her Youtube channel, Choibit, and a podcast, "Get Down with K-Town." Choi had set her sights on expanding from food to culture years earlier, saying in 2016, "What I'm trying to aim to do is spark an interest in the culture by food."