A man credited for popularizing kimchi in Portland, Oregon died after getting stabbed in his home over the weekend.
Matthew “Matt” Choi, 33, was found wounded in his apartment at 300 Southeast 12th Ave. in the Buckman neighborhood on Sunday morning.
Matt received treatment from medics on the scene but eventually succumbed to his injuries.
On Monday, the Portland Police Bureau warned the city’s apartment residents to “maintain the integrity of secure entrances into their buildings, including front doors and garage doors; follow on-site property protocols regarding secure entrances; and establish relationships with building managers and neighbors to maintain safety.”
Matt, together with his mother, Chong Choi, co-founded Choi’s Kimchi in 2011.
Starting from a booth at the Portland Farmers Market, the company has now established a presence in more than 100 stores across the Pacific Northwest region, according to its official website.
Before entering the business, Matt, who graduated with a degree in business and sports marketing from the University of Oregon, took classes in commercial food production at Oregon’s Food Innovation Center with his mother.
The pair then set up a commercial kitchen in their home in Gresham, where Matt took care of tasks such as packaging, labeling, delivery and marketing.
“I woke up the morning of the market and she had made 150 jars,” Matt Choi told the Willamette Week in 2018 of the first batch they sold at the Farmers Market.
“I got super-pissed because it seemed like waste of effort. But by noon we were sold out. I remember thinking, ‘She’s right. We really have something here.’”
Choi’s Kimchi has since grown to become a local household name.
“He [Matt] is the reason Portland loves kimchi,” Han Ly Hwang, a friend and owner of Kim Jong Grillin’ food cart, told The Oregonian. “He was the standard of how to base how good your kimchi was in town. And he was a gateway to Korean food with kimchi.”
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, the Food Innovation Center described Matt’s death as “a senseless loss in our food entrepreneur community.”
A GoFundMe page set up on the family’s behalf has raised nearly $30,000 as of this writing.
An investigation into Matt’s homicide by stabbing continues. Police described his assailant as an African American male, between 5-foot-8-inch to 5-foot-11-inch, with a medium build, and wearing dark clothing and a blue mask.
Anyone with helpful information is urged to contact Detective Ryan Foote at 503-823-0781 or Ryan.Foote@portlandoregon.gov or Detective Travis Law at 503-823-0395 or Travis.Law@portlandoregon.gov.