Mŏkbar - New York, NY
Esther Choi is an influential Chef driven by her Korean roots and is chef/owner of mŏkbar and mŏkbar Brooklyn, as well as chef/partner of Ms. Yoo. Inspired by the age-old technique of her Korean grandmother’s cooking, Choi believes that food is the ultimate expression of a country’s culture. With a personal passion for introducing New Yorkers to the flavors of Korean culture, Choi’s cooking combines traditional and modern influences with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Choi began her professional education at the early age of 14. Her formal training as a chef began at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), followed by various positions at New York City’s renowned ilili and La Esquina, as well as that of the Food Network. Esther was the host of Eater’s video series “Kitchen Gadgets”, where she channeled her cooking prowess and demonstrated compelling Korean dishes and flavors, garnering over 50 million views. She has appeared in numerous Food Network shows such as co-hosting “Beat Bobby Flay” a judge on “Chopped” as well as the show “Money Hungry” and “Throwdown with Michael Symon”. She guest-starred in HBO’s “Selena + Chef” alongside Selena Gomez. Finally, Esther is a challenger chef in the the highly anticipated “Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend” which premiered on Netflix in the summer of 2022.
Esther Choi was named a “Zagat 30 under 30” in 2015 and NYC Culinary Rockstar. Her praised restaurant, mŏkbar was acclaimed as the Village Voice’s 2014 Reader’s Choice “Best New Restaurant” and was awarded “Best Kimchi” in 2015 by Epoch Taste. Among her other enterprises, Zagat declared Ms. Yoo as one of the city’s hottest new restaurants, while Thrillist dubbed it the best place to eat during a Lower East Side bar crawl.
In 2020-21, Esther was a host and producer of two podcasts—iHeartRadio’s ‘Get down w/Ktown’, where she dives into the rich world of Korean-American culture, and the Food52 Podcast Network “Hot Offline”, a call-in show where she tackles burning questions for home cooks.
Her newest mŏkbar opened in Midtown Manhattan in the Fall of 2021, and has two more locations on the way scheduled to open in 2022.