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Roy Choi Will Speak to Cal State Fullerton’s Class of 2024

The Kogi BBQ food truck owner, author and CSUF alumnus will speak at the May 22 College of Business and Economics Commencement ceremony.
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Cal State Fullerton alumnus Roy Choi, restaurateur, New York Times best-selling author and a founder of the gourmet food truck movement, will speak at the May 22 Commencement ceremony for the university’s College of Business and Economics.

Choi ’94 graduated from CSUF with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and is known for his partnership in the gourmet Korean-Mexican taco truck Kogi BBQ. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree during the 5 p.m. commencement ceremony. 

“Roy Choi’s impact on the culinary world is unparalleled, and it’s an honor for Cal State Fullerton to recognize his achievements with an honorary doctorate degree. His innovative approach to food and his dedication to social causes have inspired and delighted many,” said Cal State Fullerton President Sylvia Alva. “We’re proud to call him one of our own.”

Choi was born in Seoul, South Korea, but moved to the United States permanently in 1972. He grew up in Los Angeles and later, in Villa Park. His parents owned Silver Garden, a Korean restaurant in Anaheim, for three years when he was young. Choi’s mother made kimchi that was so popular within their community that they packaged it and sold it locally. His favorite childhood memory is making dumplings at his family’s restaurant.

Obsessed with Emeril Lagasse’s “Essence of Emeril,” he moved to New York for culinary school and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America before working as an intern at three-Michelin-star restaurant Le Bernardin, in New York City, and for Hilton hotels in the 2000s. 

Choi, a Los Angeles resident, launched Kogi in 2008 with his partners – fellow Titan Mark Manguera ‘02 and Caroline Shin-Manguera, a food journalist. He was named one of the top 10 Best New Chefs of 2010 by Food and Wine magazine, and is the first food truck operator to earn the distinction.

His restaurants include Sunny Spot, in Venice and Best Friend, in Las Vegas. His 2013 autobiography, “L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food” was a New York Times best seller, and he was named in Time magazine’s TIME 100 list of the most influential people in the world in 2011 and 2016. Choi’s more recent projects include the Netflix series “The Chef Show” with Jon Favreau, and hosting the civic-minded Emmy Award-winning PBS SoCal series “Broken Bread,” for which he also won a 2020 James Beard Foundation award for outstanding host in a television series.

“I’m excited and honored to accept this honorary doctorate from the Cal State University system and I hope it can inspire these Fullerton Titan graduates and future entrepreneurs to embrace the challenges ahead with wisdom and patience as they progress through life with the tools they gained from their coursework matched with the real-world experiences they’ll acquire as they break down barriers in their industries and change the world,” Choi said.