How That Roy Choi Gilmore Girls Cameo Came About
And what it is like behind the scenes.
In the week since the Gilmore Girls revival dropped on Netflix last Friday, fans of the show have been furiously parsing the four 90-minute episodes for cameos and Easter eggs—and they have not been disappointed. But given protagonists Lorelai and Rory's famously lowbrow taste in food (in the original version of the show, they spend an almost incomprehensible amount of time binge-eating Pop Tarts, diner burgers, and whatever junk food they can get their hands on) we were surprised to see the show's newfound focus on chefs and the food world—including a cameo from 2010 BNC Roy Choi.
According to Choi, who plays himself in the role, the whole thing came about very "cosmically"—in large part because creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, along with the cast and crew, were big fans of Kogi, his Korean taco truck.
"I knew of the Gilmore Girls—I wasn't a rabid fan, but I watched it sporadically when it was first on," he told F&W. "They got in contact with me [to be in the new episodes], and it was one of those things where I didn't think twice. I got the call and I was like, 'fuck yeah.' Every step just kind of fell into place from there. The writing was on point, and I liked the fact that I had to play a self-deprecating role."
In the new episodes, Choi shows up briefly as a chef at Lorelai's Dragonfly Inn, which is dealing with an empty kitchen after the departure of beloved longtime chef Sookie (Melissa McCarthy). In the universe of the show, Sookie has gone on a long-term hiatus to work with chef Dan Barber on such agricultural experiments as, in the words of one character, growing "a pineapple out of a coat rack." There's also a Rachael Ray cameo and a lengthy dialogue about various acclaimed chefs who are not, in Lorelai's eyes, good enough to fill Sookie's shoes. (Bourdain: "Parked in Sookie's spot"; April Bloomfield: "Too much pork"; Alice Waters: "A little flighty"; David Chang: "Al's [Pancake World] does the same thing.")
"The scene is written so well. The reference to Chang and Al's Pancake World—it was spot on," Choi said. "[Sherman-Palladino] is definitely someone who eats out and who is very, very in tune with and aware of our food world. She loves our food and appreciates who we are as chefs and personalities. And having Rachael Ray be the other chef—those are bookends that balanced really well. It all felt right."
Choi said he filmed the scene and then more or less forgot about it—until Friday, when the revival dropped and Gilmore fans came at him with Justin Bieber-level-fandom.
"It was nonstop all weekend," he said, of the response. "It was amazing. In the food world, we don’t have [fandom] on that level. It was Twitter, Instagram, emails, shouts on the street. It was like walking into a party, and it was a surprise party for me but it wasn’t my birthday, and every single person there was so fucking ecstatic to see me. It went on for four days, and it was really great. I'm kind of missing it now."
It was a quick and dirty introduction into the Gilmore Girls community, said Choi. "I feel like I was jumped into the GG gang and now I’m good for life."