The Reizod Vegan Experience is a restaurant in South Carolina where, according to a recent menu, a diner could get a plant-based take on a chili dog or Philly cheesesteak and where, a few years ago, Josh Gosar decided he could live like this.
Josh and Carly Gosar, an almost lifelong vegetarian turned vegan, had decided for the course of a road trip from Minnesota to stop at restaurants that suited her diet. At Reizod, he found options went beyond variations on salad and mimicked the meat dishes he thought he'd miss if he fully committed to eating plant-based foods.
He committed for 21 days, then three months. Now he's on pace to open Grumpy Goose, a vegan food truck, on Friday.
"For people like me," Josh said last week, dressed in a branded T-shirt and standing next to his 26-foot commercial kitchen on wheels. "I want something that's going to be a good (meat) replica."
Josh isn't immune to the smell of, for instance, fried chicken. But instead of heeding the call, Josh has experimented with both seitan and oyster mushrooms to create similar flavors and textures. He likes the creativity of recipe creation, he said, and the truck's Facebook page offers photographs of his meat- and dairy-free work:
- A burger topped with a fried onion ring with chili and nacho cheese shares a to-go container with golden, seasoned French fries;
- S'more flavored cookies;
- A gyro with rounds of onion, cucumber and tomato topped with tzatziki in a pita;
- Nachos, macaroni and cheese, a chicken crunch wrap.
Or, like it says on the back of his shirt, "Plant-based food that feeds your craving."
Asked her favorite, Carly couldn't pick.
"We have so many things that we like," she said.
The meals get a test run through their 18-year-old son, though, and he's a meat-eater.
"He's my biggest critic," Josh said.
Earlier this year, Josh, a former amateur football player with the Duluth Superior Shoremen, made the 30-plus-hour round trip to Houston to pick up a food truck that, in its past life, offered Cajun food from a roadside in the desert.
He spent months making upgrades to the water heater, the prep sink, ventilation and plumbing. He hasn't yet added signage to the outside of the truck, but it's on the list, along with finding regular places to park it on weekends so he can serve up meatless chili dogs and barbeque ribs.
Josh was a special education teacher who needed a change. With Grumpy Goose, he's diving into a world he and Carly said they couldn't have imagined back in his meat-and-potato days.
"You have to be innovative, willing to take a risk," Josh said. "You have to bet on yourself."
Follow Grumpy Goose on Facebook.