Daniel Pierce has envisioned opening his own restaurant for years.
He imagined opening a unique and gourmet place that allows him to use his culinary school education and extensive experience in the food industry.
The Nebraska native didn’t think his dream would be realized in a food truck, but a lucky find on Facebook Marketplace ended up aligning perfectly with his vision.
“The whole thing I’d come up with in my head, (the truck) wraps around it,” he said.
The Gonzo Gourmand, named by the truck’s previous owner, has burger ingredients painted on it in a surrealist style.
The name fits Pierce’s mission to provide unusual but high-quality fare, and so far his menu reflects that. It doesn’t include any specific type of cuisine, offering poutine, mac and cheese, tacos and burgers among its selections.
Instead, the food revolves around the ingredients, especially beef. Pierce sources all his beef from a rancher in Cozad, because it was “the best beef” he’s ever had, and he thought it could set his food truck apart.
“You can do so much with beef if you treat it and handle it as best you can,” he said. “You can get so much better product out there, and I’ve proven that.”
Gonzo Gourmand’s beef undergoes an extended 28-day aging process that Pierce believes provides more intense flavor and more tender meat.
“For some burgers, it’s all about the toppings; my goal was to present the beef,” he said. “Everything else is a complement — you can taste the beef in every dish.”
Since his menu is beef-first, it also changes based on what cuts he has available to best showcase their differing flavors. For example, barbacoa tacos have been replaced by a carne asada variation and could give way to flank steak in the future.
His burgers, however, have been a staple and are already making their mark, he said. The patties are made from ground beef that includes prime cuts for higher fat content, which ultimately means a messy burger bursting with juices and savory umami flavor.
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The truck’s signature burger really lets the beef shine, but Pierce also serves a Korean-influenced burger stuffed with creamy corn cheese that melds with spicy gochujang, or chili paste.
Another customer favorite is poutine, which has gravy made from beef stock and homemade fries. Demand has been so high that the truck often runs out of ingredients before customers’ cravings are satisfied, Pierce said.
“We get so many people who are really upset when we run out of poutine,” he said. “They drive across town for it … people say it’s the best poutine they’ve ever had.”
The rolling business has been running a few days a week since the end of June, since Pierce also has a full-time job. Gonzo Gourmand frequents the Adventure Golf Center parking lot and has parked outside Backswing Brewing Co. multiple times.
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On a recent Saturday, one of Pierce’s coworkers stopped by with his family to try the food.
Scott Houser ordered mac and cheese, poutine and a burger, and said his family appreciated the truck’s varied choices and unique take on food.
After trying his burger, Houser said Gonzo Gourmand instantly became a new favorite.
“You could tell it was fresh; the sauce they put on was great,” he said. “I just felt like it was a traditional Nebraska homemade beef burger … I love it.”
To find where Gonzo Gourmand will be parked next, visit its Facebook page.
Some Lincoln food trucks and mobile dining options