April 8, 2010 / 1:47 PM / 10 years ago

Korean-born street cook named best new chef in U.S.

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - A Korean-born cook selling tacos from a truck was named one of the hottest young U.S. chefs by a leading food magazine.

Roy Choi with his "Best New Chef" award. REUTERS/Sylvain Gaboury, courtesy of Food & Wine

Food & Wine magazine cited Roy Choi and nine other cooks in their 20s to 30s in its annual list of best up-and-coming chefs.

Choi, who was born in Seoul, has built a loyal following in Los Angeles with his mash-up of Mexican and American street food with Korean flavors.

Food lovers can find his Kogi BBQ trucks via Twitter, the social networking tool that other food trucks rely on.

“Roy is bringing food to the street with real passion,” Food & Wine editor Dana Cowin told Reuters.

The 39-year-old Choi rolled out his food truck in late 2008 targeting young club-goers. His business has blossomed with his debut restaurant slated to open this week.

Before his food trucks, the classically-trained Choi had worked at Michelin-star Le Bernardin in New York.

The other nine chefs named by the magazine work in more traditional settings across the United States.

In addition to Choi, three other chefs are based on the West Coast — Matt Lightner with Castagna in Portland, Oregon, Jason Stratton with Spinasse in Seattle and James Syhabout with Commis in Oakland, California;

Three are from the Midwest — Mike Sheerin of Blackbird in Chicago, Alex Seidel of Fruition in Denver and Jonathon Sawyer of The Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland.

New York City had only one representation on this year’s list — Missy Robbins of A Voce. The other chefs from the East Coast are from small towns in Virginia — Clayton Miller of Trummer’s on Main in Clifton and John Shields of Town House in Chilhowie.

Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Patricia Reaney

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