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Chef Keith Corbin Dishes On “California Soul: An American Epic of Cooking and Survival”

Published on Aug 17, 2022


Chef Keith Corbin discusses his new book, “California Soul: An American Epic of Cooking and Survival,” at Vroman’s Bookstore on Thursday, Aug. 18, 7 p.m.

In this free in-person event, Corbin will talk about his extraordinary journey: from cooking crack starting at age 13 and becoming so successful at it that he was flown across the country to cook for drug operations in other cities, to learning how to cook – food, this time – from fellow inmates at California’s most notorious maximum security prisons, to becoming chef of one of America’s best restaurants! 

“California Soul,” the book, tells that story and more. His modern restaurant, California Soul, was named one of the best new restaurants in the country by both Esquire and Thrillist, and, since opening, has consistently been on the LA Times best restaurant list.   

Corbin spent years in prison after his criminal enterprises caught up with him. After his release, he got a job managing the kitchen at LocoL, an ambitious fast food restaurant spearheaded by celebrity chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson, designed to bring inexpensive, quality food and good jobs into underserved neighborhoods. But when Corbin was suddenly thrust into the spotlight, he struggled to live up to or accept the simplified “gangbanger redemption” portrayal of him in the media. As he battles private demons while achieving public success, Corbin traces the origins of his vision for “California Soul Food” and takes readers inside the worlds of gang hierarchy, drug dealing, prison politics, gentrification, and culinary achievement. 

For more information, call (626) 449-5320 or visit

Vroman’s Bookstore is at 695 E. Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena. 

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