April 19, 2018

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Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix by Jacqueline Briggs Martin & June Jo Lee | SLJ Review

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redstarMARTIN, Jacqueline Briggs & June Jo Lee. Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix. illus. by Man One. 32p. bibliog. further reading. photos. websites. Readers to Eaters. May 2017. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9780983661597.

NF-Martin-ChefRoyChoiandtheStreetFoodRemixGr 1-5 –Spicy, sweet, colorful, tangy—all the words that authors Martin and Lee use to describe Roy Choi’s Korean Mexican cuisine apply just as accurately to the book they’ve created along with L.A. street artist Man One. Choi’s parents came to the United States from Korea when he was two years old, opening a family restaurant in Los Angeles. After stints as an aimless street kid and a cooking school–trained chef, he combined his local knowledge, Korean heritage, and chef skills to open a taco truck, serving Korean barbecued short ribs wrapped in corn tortillas and loaded with Roy’s “awesome sauce.” One truck turned into many, which led to his first stationary restaurant, Locol, in the Watts neighborhood of L.A. Choi’s dedication to bringing wholesome, flavorful fast food to low-income neighborhoods is reflected in every word and stroke of this colorful book. The jaunty text has the rhythm of a griot’s story (“What? Chefs cook in kitchens, not on trucks!”) without sacrificing readability. Graffiti tags and airbrushed landscapes are the background for energetically warped cartoon illustrations. Lots of diagonals and brilliant colors capture the speed and flavor of street food served hot. One particularly effective sequence juxtaposes Choi in his chef’s whites garnishing a plate of lamb chops with Choi, wearing headphones and a backward baseball cap, scratching a record while mixing up “awesome sauce” on the following page. In both spreads, the focus is on his skilled hands, the concentration evident on his face. If you’re not hungry already, this savory array of sizzling words and art will make your mouth water. VERDICT This excellent picture book biography about an inventive chef doing good belongs on all shelves.–Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson

This review was published in the School Library Journal May 2017 issue.



  1. Readers to Eaters has become a favorite, if not a staple of my school library diet. The release of Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix during May’s Asian Pacific American heritage month is perfectly timed. And having it ready to be served up again in September as back-to-school meets National Hispanic Heritage Month Sept 15 to Oct 15th. Thanks to Jacqueline Briggs and June Jo Lee and publisher Philip Lee for their efforts.

    • Janet Wong says:

      YES! I love this book–and so many of the Readers to Eaters titles (FARMER WILL ALLEN, A MOOSE BOOSH, etc.). Philip Lee was a multicultural books pioneer when he started Lee & Low decades ago, and his current focus on food justice and sustainability shows so much VISION!!

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