LA chef Roy Choi talks about going bigger with season 2 of ‘Broken Bread’ – Daily Bulletin

When Los Angeles chef and social activist Roy Choi eats with fellow chefs, restaurant owners, activists and others defining local food culture on his series “Broken Bread,” the talk isn’t just about flavors, ingredients and culinary innovations.

Choi digs deeper than the plates piled with delectable dishes as he connects food with issues like gentrification, culture, lack of nutrition, racism and other topics on the series, which has earned Emmy and James Beard awards.

“It’s a storytelling show about broken systems and social justice disguised as a food show. But we always use food as the through line to be able to get to deeper topics,” the 51-year-old chef said in a recent phone interview.

For the second season of the show, which premieres Jan. 25 on KCET and food streaming network Tastemade, Choi’s exploration continues as he sinks his teeth into the future of restaurants and food while crossing borders for the first time.

Like the acclaimed first season of the series, Choi looks at the local Southern California culinary scene with a focus on how visionary chefs, activists and others in the food industry who are making an impact on their communities.

“It’s about good people doing great things against all odds. That’s what ‘Broken Bread’ is all about. And we were definitely hoping to go bigger, we’re definitely making a bigger show,” Choi said.

Choi promises a lot of delicious food throughout the season as well.

“There’s a lot of really great visuals as far as food. We don’t try to veer too far off. I’m not trying to be Anderson Cooper. I’m not trying to go too far off the road,” he said.

In the new season, Choi, who made a name for himself as a game-changing street chef when he rolled out his widely popular Kogi BBQ food truck, tackles the question of how to “feed the future.”

The chef visits places such as mom-and-pop food stalls in Grand Central Market, restaurants in L.A., a community garden in Compton, a restaurant focusing on Native foods in Oakland, a spot on Slauson Avenue that serves vegan foods and tortilla and taco makers in L.A. He even hangs out with star chefs such as Wolfgang Puck and artists including Chuck D of Public Enemy.

“We just look for people that are trying to better this world. We have enough (expletive) right now and hate and vitriol and just division and anger and blaming and there’s so much horrible stuff going on, so we’re just looking for people who have a good heart and stories to tell,” he said.

The six-episode season starts with Choi looking at one of the biggest challenges restaurants have faced recently when he explores how COVID-19 has and will continue to impact the restaurant and food industry.

Among the topics is the story of the Avenue 26 Street Market, a Lincoln Heights night market that became popular during the pandemic.

The open-air market was shut down by the city in August 2021 after complaints from local residents about issues such as trash and parking.

“Because of COVID it became this bustling, sprawling, thriving epicenter of street food, and it was shut down,” Choi said.

He also checks out the organization No Us Without You, which was formed during the pandemic when back-of-the-house workers found themselves without a job and ineligible for unemployment. The charity provides food to hospitality workers affected by the pandemic.

“Nobody gives a (expletive) about us brown folk out here when (expletive) hits the fan, only when you need your coffee refilled or your strawberries on the table,” Choi said. “And that’s what happened when COVID hit. The heart and soul of our industry was left to die, so we covered an organization that stepped in and said ‘No, we’re not going to have this,’” he said.


Choi also crosses the border for the first time on the series and heads to Tijuana, Mexico, where he hangs with the Latin rock and ska band Tijuana No as he checks out the nightlife, street food and restaurants.

“We didn’t want to be pigeonholed as a local show. We wanted to make sure we were telling global stories and we’re taking baby steps starting in our own neighborhoods and our own state. But the show is a show that reflects global problems — the broken food system, the broken equity system,” he said.

“It just felt right to go there and we didn’t know what to expect when we went in, but I think that going to Tijuana maybe revealed what ‘Broken Bread’ can be in the future, which I think will be an international show,” Choi said.

Broken Bread

Season two premieres Tuesday, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. on  Tastemade and KCET.

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