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Game Changers 2015: Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson

The West Coast chefs are reinventing what's between the bun.
Jake Stangel
The men behind LocoL, Choi (right) and Patterson, have created one of the world's most creaveable healthy fast-food burgers.

When Daniel Patterson, 46, the chef at Michelin-starred restaurant Coi, in San Francisco, started teaching inner-city kids how to cook by co-founding the Cooking Project in 2012, he stumbled onto a problem: “They had no ‘taste memory’ of real food,” he says. “And it’s hard to follow a recipe if you don’t know what the result should taste like.” But, he thought, “What if there were a fast-food restaurant that could serve real food at fast-food price points?” 

That’s when he decided to partner with L.A. street-food maven Roy Choi, 45, whose taco trucks have taken critics, the public, and even the big screen (he was featured in 2014’s Chef) by storm, to start their own restaurant, LocoL, which will open in the city’s impoverished Watts neighborhood in December. 

But what to serve?

“We knew we had to go with something iconic that the public was already being fed,” says Choi. “The head of that snake is the cheeseburger.” 

The LocoL burger will have a bun made with koji rice; a patty that’s about 70% beef and 30% tofu and healthy grains like quinoa; and a sauce with all the expected burger flavors—relish, pickle, mustard, mayo, and ketchup. Proper cooking techniques will be used—sweating onions and garlic, adding chili paste and tomatoes, and cooking those down. And, yes, there will be cheese. “Real, not processed,” says Choi.

The result is a burger that’s Instagram-ready and utterly “craveable,” says Choi. “It gives you the sensation of eating a greasy cheeseburger, but afterward you don’t feel like your life fucking sucks.”

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