He's known as the Godfather of Korean Tacos, but here in Los Angeles he's just Roy. We're talking of course about renowned Korean-American chef Roy Choi, who ascended to culinary royalty after his Kogi BBQ food truck became the tastiest treat in Tinseltown, leading to restaurants across the country and a hit show on Netflix.
Ordinarily, the Kogi BBQ food truck is known for its short rib tacos and burritos. Yes, the truck has vegetarian options like tofu tacos, and my persona favorite the kimchi quesadilla, but the short ribs have always been the star. But now, thanks to the new vegetarian hot dog from Field Roast, Choi is hoping that changes.
Since 1962, the world famous "Dodger Dog" at Dodger Stadium was provided by sponsors Morell meat and Farmer John. That all changed in 2020, when the Dodgers contract with Farmer John ended, and the team moved on to a new supplier, California-based Papa Cantella's.
Now with a new supplier, the Dodger Dog has created a controversy among faithful fans, but it has also provided a new opportunity for a new market and a new supplier with the "Veggie Dodger Dog."
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More and more people are choosing to go with plant-based alternatives to meat, and both the Dodgers and Choi believe that is a trend that will continue into the future.
"Almost 10 years ago I was just like, ‘If I truly believe in change and the things I speak about, I have to start with myself.’ So little by little I started to change and make conscious decisions about what I ate and when I ate it," said Choi in an interview with the website InsideHook. “I tell people who want to make a change but don’t know how to go cold turkey that everything’s about the process. Don’t let peer pressure or society dictate your goals. Just because you’re not all the way there doesn’t mean that you’re not trying. I think it’s important to celebrate the small successes. If someone chooses to eat one meal that’s not animal-based, we have to celebrate that and then help them get onto two meals and three meals. Everything’s so absolute, where either you’re vegan or you’re not. Either you believe in animal rights or you don’t. Either you’re completely plant-based or you’re not, and you’re the villain. I don’t look at the world in that kind of binary way. For me, it’s about trying to make conscious decisions with each meal and each bite.”
On June 3rd, the Dodgers announced that they had entered into a multi-year partnership with Chicago-based company Field Roast, to be the supplier of the team's new veggie Dodger Dogs at Dodger Stadium.
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Choi is partnering with Field Roast as well, adding the double-smoked hot dog to his Kogi BBQ menu, and calling it the "The Home Run." The Field Roast Signature Stadium plant-based hot dog is grilled and topped with Choi's famous Kogi slaw, three kinds of salsa, sesame seeds, vegan cheese, and relish.
"The Home Run Dog"
"My relationship with Field Roast is very important to me, but not just for myself," said Choi. "I feel like where I am in my life and in the food world and in the journey of everything, I have an ability to influence people to make better choices. But the only way to do that is to not force things on people where it looks like a hollow PR move or some twist you don’t really mean. If I want people to believe I really want them to eat less meat or maybe even change their lives with plant-based, I have to treat the food as if I was cooking anything else. That’s why I thought a hot dog being the first pathway to all this was really, really important. From tailgates to birthday parties, to ballgames to the home, the hot dog is everywhere. My goal was to take this gateway that connects us all and make it so delicious people wouldn’t notice the difference between eating a meat hot dog and a plant-based hot dog. This is the first time I’ve ever had a hot dog that’s completely plant-based where I eat it and don’t think it’s not meat."
The "The Home Run," is available nationwide via Goldbelly beginning in late July, as well as Los Angeles and Pasadena-based Kogi BBQ Truck locations. In addition to the new plant-based Kogi Dog, Chef Choi is collaborating with Field Roast and Studio Number One, a Shepard Fairey Company, to launch a new limited-edition, baseball-inspired SS21 Stadium Streetwear collection that will come with the purchase of a “Home Run” Kogi dog at select Kogi BBQ Truck locations in Pasadena and Los Angeles, and select Kogi Dog orders via Goldbelly.
"Kogi is a taco truck, but we’ve made a conscious decision to add a plant-based item that’s a signature item," said Choi. "Maybe that leads to another one and then another one. Who knows? A year from now, we may have five items. It’s just all about that process. I wouldn’t mind if Kogi went from being a taco truck selling Korean short rib barbecue tacos in 2008 to being the leader in plant-based Korean barbecue plant-based tacos in 2028. I wouldn’t mind that progression as far as the journey of the company and the story of the company. I believe in plant-based, I believe in reducing the carbon footprint of cattle raising, I believe in not killing animals on a factory level as we do."
Choi himself made the transition to eating more plant-based items and believes his diet now consists of between 70-80% plant-based protein compared to eating animals.
The regular Field Roast "Veggie Dodger Dog" is available at Dodger Stadium at select concession stands throughout the stadium. The Kogi "The Home Run" is only available until September.