The Vet Chef is a food truck by veterans, for veterans
Bothell’s Kyle Gorlie is the owner and chef of the food truck, The Vet Chef.
“We like to say we do southern California Mexican food.”
Gorlie fell in love with San Diego style burritos and carne asada fries when he was in the Marine Corps, stationed in Camp Pendleton. But his road to rolling big, baby-sized burritos was quite rough.
“I got deployed to Ramadi, Iraq,” said Gorlie. “Towards the end, I got blown up in an IED, and after that I had to spend a couple years learning how to walk and talk again. I pretty much fully recovered in the sense of having a traumatic brain injury. Broke my back in five places and my neck in two, so I was in pretty rough shape there for a bit.”
So he came back to the states and did his rehab at The Scripps Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center at Scripps Memorial Hospital in San Diego.
“One of our classes there was basically an introductory back into life. One of the things we had to do was cook or set tables, and I just really liked that. I hooked on to it and I felt good. My wife’s dad is a wonderful, wonderful cook and we started cooking and drinking beers and hanging out over a fire and just loving life. And I’m like, I can do this. I need to do this. This is wonderful, this is fun, and it just brings people together.”
After four years in the military, he came back home and used his GI Bill to go to culinary school in Seattle. A restaurant seemed too expensive and daunting, so he opened The Vet Chef food truck with his wife, Amanda Gourlie.
“We actually met in 4th grade, the day before my 10th birthday,” she said. “Here’s Kyle sitting diagonal across the table from me, and I was never able to get rid of him.”
The star of The Vet Chef’s menu is the California burrito, something that can be hard to find outside of San Diego.
“The California burrito is carne asada steak, cheese, french fries, and guacamole. But after you hit Del Mar, they stop putting guacamole on, and I’m a non-guacamole kind of guy.”
At least once a week, Gourlie parks the truck at the Port of Everett naval base, offering a discounted menu, and he hires other veterans looking to transition back into civilian life. The next step is to franchise.
“There is just too much of a struggle getting out of the military and back into civilian life. I think it’s that you’ve been told for your entire military career not to make a choice. You take orders. It works for the military, but for the civilian life, that’s not going to work, and I felt that if we could open up a business and have the opportunity to move that business into other people’s hands through franchising and getting on military bases, it would just be a wonderful opportunity.”
The Vet Chef serves up hulking burritos at the Fremont Sunday Market, on the Bothell T-Mobile campus and many other locations, but the Gourlie military family especially enjoys the camaraderie of serving veterans and service members.
“Just the banter of the military is what we kind of live for. So when we get back on the Navy base, it’s the typical banter between two military people about, ‘the Marines are the best!’ ‘No, the Navy is the best!’ ‘You guys are this, you guys are that.’ And it’s wonderful. It’s just where we belong, for sure.”
If you’re a veteran interested in franchising with Gourlie, get in touch.