Food truck is long-awaited dream for Whitefish grad

Robert Bertelsen has been working in restaurants since the age of 14 earning money toward his dream.

Now just two years after graduating from Whitefish High School, Bertelsen has made that dream a reality by owning Golden Sammies food truck.

This summer will be his second year owning and nearly single-handedly running the food truck that serves gourmet sandwiches and lemonade. Bertelson spends most days of the week touring the Flathead Valley setting up at different locations serving up his unique sandwiches.

The mainstays of his menu are a brisket sandwich and a chicken focaccia.

“I like to do something that’s different,” he said. “I just really think about what’s really good.”

The brisket sandwich is served on ciabatta bread with pepper jack cheese, chili garlic mayo and pineapple.

“People weren’t too sure about the brisket with pineapple, but once I started giving out samples people saw how good it is,” he said.

Even before he was old enough to drive, Bertelsen purchased the food truck. Then he amassed years of experience working in kitchens and trained in the classroom with the culinary arts programs at Whitefish Schools. He says the work in the culinary arts programs provided him with the technical skills he needed to run his own food truck kitchen.

Bertelsen first found his love for cooking while his family was living in Costa Rica, where using local ingredients became a necessity because of the cost of prepackaged food.

Back in Whitefish he found himself working in a number of kitchens including after graduation.

Last summer he launched Golden Sammies. While he says starting the business in the middle of a pandemic was less than ideal, it also had a bonus.

“It was a good year to practice and figure the system out,” he said.

Bertelsen has some staple sandwiches on his menu, but he also likes to offer running specials. His pork chop sandwich has been a big draw, but the most popular is likely his burger topped with bacon jam, goat cheese and huckleberry sauce. Both will make an appearance at the food truck again this summer.

Since Bertelsen was an eighth-grader he has been riding his bike to kitchen jobs and dreaming of being his own boss. Now, he’s living that dream out of a food truck.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “I can do what I want.”

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