Restaurant entrepreneur and social activist Roy Choi takes viewers on a journey through his hometown to showcase the inspiring people who are working to fix broken food systems in their communities. See our episode guide below.
Transformation: On The Margins
Roy explores the power of cooking to rehabilitate those on the margins of society and the organizations taking a chance on those who need it most. Roy spends time with Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy and Homegirl Industries, the pioneer of socially minded food enterprises focused on transitioning former gang members from lives on the street to lives in kitchens. Roy also visits Mar Diego, a food entrepreneur who has opened Dough Girl, a pizza shop in the San Fernando Valley employing local kids struggling with drug use and homelessness. The episode also features L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti shedding light into workforce models with a purpose.
Access: Moving the Plant
Roy meets the individuals bringing healthy and affordable food options into South L.A. communities that lack access to fresh food. The journey begins with revolutionary sidewalk gardener Ron Finley on a mission to inspire change, one sidewalk plot at a time. Roy also visits with vegan grocer Olympia Auset, whose startup Süprmarkt delivers healthy and affordable food to the doorsteps of her community. Finally, Roy visits Earle’s Hot Dogs, a vegetarian hot dog cart that has grown over its 30-year history into a multi-location brick and mortar shop, now a staple of a community hungry for healthier options.
Future of Food
Roy explores future culinary landscapes looking forward to a world affected by climate change. Roy spends an evening with chefs Henry Fischer and Anna Rose Hopkins from Hank and Bean who make a surprising plant-forward dinner featuring non-traditional protein sources like crickets and jellyfish. Roy also visits with Ethan Brown of Beyond Meat, a company pioneering the plant-based replacements for our favorite burgers and sausages, and Vegan Hooligans, a pop-up restaurant in eastside LA’s Eagle Rock making classic American diner food out of entirely plant-based ingredients.
Cannabis: The State of Weed
Roy visits Chris Yang’s Pop Cultivate to explore the emergence of a new culinary landscape since the advent of legalized recreational marijuana. Roy tackles the gentrification of cannabis culture by visiting Med Men, the leader in upscale legal weed retailers in Los Angeles. An interview with Virgil Grant, a formerly incarcerated weed dealer now seeking to run a legal distribution business, sheds light on efforts to build cannabis equity for those hit hardest by the War on Drugs. The episode also features interviews with actor/activist Cheech Marin and Shep Gordon.
Waste: Recovery and Possibility
Roy journeys from L.A. to Orange County to discover how two non-profit innovators are tackling the problem of food waste. Roy visits Robert Egger, whose project LA Kitchen is simultaneously aggregating wasted food, using it to cook fresh meals for those in need, and providing workforce training. Roy also visits Bill Bracken of Bracken’s Kitchen who partners with Chefs to End Hunger to reuse leftover food and distribute it with his food truck in Orange County. Roy also visits with Richard Garcia at Alma Backyard Farms in Compton where kids are learning how food in grown by digging in to Alma’s hands-on program.
W.A.T.T.S: We Are Taught To Survive
Roy takes a head-on look at efforts to heal the social and economic wounds of Watts, acknowledging one of the oldest communities in Los Angeles as a mirror into ourselves and our future. Led by activist Aqeela Sherrills, Roy visits with Sherrills' mother as she prepares free food for the community, digs into the soul of what makes Watts Coffee House a cornerstone in the neighborhood and examines the missed opportunities of the Jordan Downs Housing Project redevelopment. Sharing the "real" story of his own restaurant Locol and where it stands within the community of Watts, Roy reflects as he connects with the very people navigating the most pressing issues facing our food systems.