Famed chef Roy Choi to host free drive-up food giveaway this weekend in Long Beach

The Godfather of the modern food truck and host of multiple food shows, chef Roy Choi, is partnering with Thunder Studios and Voodoo Ranger IPA in Long Beach to host a drive-up food giveaway this weekend.

The event will take place at noon Sunday at Thunder Studio’s production lot located at 20434 S. Santa Fe Ave. just off the 710 Freeway. Cars will be directed into the studio’s southern gate, where Kogi BBQ cooks will be handing out tacos through their car windows.

Though event organizers said food workers in the hospitality industry would be prioritized, the giveaway is open to all members of the public.

About 700 meals will be served on a first-come-first-serve basis and meals will not be available for purchase in order to adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines, Natasha Phan of Kogi BBQ said.

Jacqueline Carroll, director of sales at Thunder Studios, said the production studio wanted to partner with Choi and Voodoo Ranger IPA in order to show support for food workers in the hospitality industry.

“Food workers in the hospitality industry have been hit exceptionally hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and this is our little way to let them know we care,” Carroll said. “We see them as essential workers and members of our communities and that Thunder Studios’ acknowledges their importance to our communities in Long Beach.”

Chef Choi is known for his Mexican-Korean fusion cooking and for producing multiple shows and movies such as “Chef,” “The Chef Show” and “Broken Bread.” Choi announced the giveaway via a post on Instagram where he said he was hosting the event as a way to celebrate his birthday but also to honor three close friends who have died.

“Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my three best friends who have passed away throughout the years and how the heck I’m the one out of us four that still happens to be here,” Choi’s post read. “They were my heroes. But that’s a story for another time.”

Choi has hosted similar events last year in Carson, San Gabriel and Whittier particularly for workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.

“We’d like to prioritize hospitality folks that need any bit of love during these hard times but it’s really for any of you that need a meal or know someone that needs a meal,” Choi wrote. “If you don’t need a meal I ask that you not take a free one but still come by and we can break bread and just say hi on a Sunday and emanate love into the universe.”

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Sebastian Echeverry is the North Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of his grant-funded position with the Long Beach Post. If you want to support Sebastian's work, you can donate to his Report for America position at lbpost.com/support.