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A chili love letter to food

December 10, 2018 GMT

Paul Bjelland is writing a proverbial love letter to food and cooking.

That love letter will come in the form of a new food truck, Willie Pete’s Chili and Eats. The way Bjelland sees it, it’ll be a way to share his love for food and cooking with anyone who comes by.

He will start serving bowls of chili and chili dogs on Tuesday at The Lot food truck pod in downtown Roseburg.

“Food and cooking is something that has always been my Zen place,” Bjelland said. “It’s something that brings me a great deal of peace and, I guess you could call it joy.”

Bjelland joked that the only place to get Chili in Roseburg is Wendy’s “and that comes from a can.”

“You’ll notice that most food trucks in general are sandwiches, general Mexican street food, or hot dog places,” Bjelland said. “We will be serving chili dogs, so I can’t really say we’re completely out of that loop.”

Bjelland will start with four chili recipes, Chili Verde and Texas Red Chili in meat and vegan versions of each. He hopes to add seasonal recipes at some point.

“Everyone likes chili, basically,” Bjelland said. “That’s the modus operandi of the truck per se, to supply tasty food for a reasonable price but is also filling.”

Willie Pete is military jargon for white phosphorus which burns at 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Chili is often associated with being very spicy and hot is also a word that is used to define spice, so it’s sort of a play on words,” Bjelland said. “I wanted to do something that was specifically me, and I do make some mean chili if I do say so myself.

“Chili’s always been my go-to food when I don’t know what else to make.”

Bjelland said he learned a lot with the food truck, with the first being to get a customized truck, not a pre-made truck after having to get his previously pre-made truck customized after realizing it wasn’t going to work.

“It’s so much less stress and ultimately less work and less money,” Bjelland said. “You also get the peace of mind knowing that you’re getting a truck that is customized specifically for you.”

Bjelland chose a food truck for the flexibility for his schedule and his location.

“There’s the ability to stay mobile in a food truck, and I think that’s important when it comes to food,” Bjelland said. “I can go to where the people are rather than having to rely on the people coming to me. It’s the sort of lifestyle that is appealing to me.”

He eventually wants to take the truck to events once he gets more established.

“This is my contribution to the food world,” Bjelland said. “It’s me giving back what food and the food world have given me.”