Chef Roy Choi And Cheetos Bring The Flamin’ Hot Spot Pop-Up To L.A.

Photo: Cheetos.

We know you love Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. You sprinkle them on every food imaginable, right? Those spicy, crunchy snacks can make anything taste amazing. Chef Roy Choi is right there with you. The Los Angeles culinary legend known for Kogi BBQ, a fleet of Korean-Mexican taco trucks, and Chego!, a Korean-Mexican rice bowl counter service joint, has teamed up with Cheetos for the most tempting pop-up known to humankind: the Flamin’ Hot Spot.

The Cheetos-themed pop-up restaurant is in L.A. for three nights only: Sept. 18 through Sept. 20. The bad news: the pop-up sold out in minutes! The good news: there is a wait list.

If you’re lucky enough to get in, you’ll see the menu is packed with the crazy good fusion food Chef Choi is known for. Of course you’ve got your finger foods like Flamin’ Hot Chipotle Ranch Wings and Flamin’ Hot Elotes, but there are also options for your sweet tooth like Cheetos Sweetos Hot Cakes and Chester Cheetah’s Churros. Are you salivating yet?

We talked to Choi to find out how he helped create this insanely delicious concept and how you can recreate it at home.

Mandatory: What made you want to get involved in a Flamin’ Hot Cheetos pop-up?

Roy Choi: Because I love them and the Kogi fans and the Chego! fans love them. I’ve been putting them in our food for fun snacks anyways and then the company reached out to me, so it was just like, “OK. Let’s go.”

Photo: Travis Jensen.

From your perspective as a chef, what makes Flamin’ Hot Cheetos such a good ingredient?

I think it comes down to flavor. Being a chef, you have many different angles and points of view on what is a good ingredient. For this, it’s all about flavor, that mouth-feel, the spice, the addictiveness, the fun. That’s really what it is.

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How did you come up with the dishes featured on the menu at the Flamin’ Hot Spot?

The most important thing I try to do in any collab is try to find an anchor or some sort of bridge between “Why am I doing it?” and “What’s it going to be?” This bridge was Kogi and Chego! because we’re late-night food, on-the-couch-food, on the streets, really drippy, juicy, spicy food. I wanted to take all our food and look at it through the lens of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. So we took our foods like Kimchi Carnitas Ooey Gooey Fries, the Kogi burrito, the Chego! meatballs, I took those recipes and altered them with the hot Cheetos. They came out so good. It’s crazy.

What is your favorite dish on the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos menu?

I’d say probably the wings and the meatballs came out pretty spectacular, better than I expected.

Photo: Cheetos.

Are there any foods that don’t pair well with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos?

We tried ice cream and it tastes pretty good. That was one where I thought, “Let’s take a shot at it.” Pickled herring? I don’t know. Gefilte fish? It might go OK, actually. I don’t know if there’s any food that doesn’t go with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, to be honest.

For those who can’t make it to the pop-up, what are some good ways to incorporate Flamin’ Hot Cheetos into foods they make at home?

I would say start with the recipes that we provided. They’re all on the website. Everything we’re serving in the restaurant, we have recipes on the website. The recipes are designed so that they can actually be a part of your life. They’re not too complicated, but they’re just complicated enough to where they’re really going to bring a smile to your day. I would say start there. Another way to start is crushing them up and folding them into things or using them as a crust for something. Even crushing them up and pulverizing them and using them as a seasoning for your fries or your salad or something like that.

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You sold out all three nights of the pop-up. Has there been any talk of expanding it or making it more of a permanent restaurant?

Shoot. I feel like if we did a month pop-up, like if we had it for 27 more days, they’d sell out in an hour, too. It’s crazy. I don’t know. I thought about it but I actually forgot to bring it up so you’re reminding me. I’m going to bring it up when I see the team today. We should do round two.