How Urkel Was Partly Responsible for the Kogi Truck Phenomenon

 

This story first appeared in the July 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Forget kimchi. It turns out that Urkel may have been the secret ingredient behind the now-legendary success of the Kogi truck phenomenon -- inspiration for May's Jon Favreau-directed indie film Chef, in which he starred alongside Scarlett Johansson and Sofia Vergara -- that took L.A. by storm a few years ago.

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In real life, actor Jaleel White (Urkel on Family Matters), a major foodie and long-time friend of Kogi mastermind Roy Choi’s business partner Mark Manguera, says he dismissed the initial plan to sell Korean BBQ mash-up tacos out of a street cart.

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"My suggestion was to repurpose the roach coach," White tells THR. Then, he notes, he hooked up Choi with another friend, Morris Appel of local trucking company Road Stoves, who supplied a vehicle "at relatively no cost."

UPDATE, JUNE 30: Kogi co-founder and creative director Alice Shin stresses that the concept was “raised by a village.” And, as for the light-bulb idea regarding use of a truck, she wishes to clarify: “My sister was out having a good time with Mark, [future Kogi marketing head] Wayne Chang, Jaleel and I believe Josh Hiller [co-founder of RoadStoves]. Mark talked about our idea and Wayne had suggested that he meet with Moe [Morris] and went out of his way to make the introduction, since Wayne is generous and kind like that. Jaleel was definitely there and encouraged the idea, but didn’t exactly suggest it. Though, to be fair, there was a lot of drinking to be enjoyed that night and he could have remembered details a bit differently.”

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