Hot chicken came sizzling out of the oil, but it didn’t become “hot chicken” until it was smothered in Brandon Wilson’s cayenne pepper sauce.
Wilson was slinging hot chicken, a full cut of chicken breast deep fried, covered in cayenne pepper paste and laid over buttered bread with a slice of pickle and green onion, at Tap It on Friday for one of the growler bar’s takeover events. The truck also sold sweet potato fries, North Georgia tacos (which are heavy on the pulled pork) and a few other dishes in the parking lot.
Normally seen covering lunches at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, the Friday event was one of the first in Hall County served by Gonzo Gourmet as the food truck tries to break into the Hall market.
Wilson and Gonzo Gourmet operate from a farm just over the line in Lumpkin County. For the past 18 months — since he moved to Georgia from Knoxville, Tennessee, to be closer to his daughter — Gonzo Gourmet has sold food at North Georgia wineries, weddings and festivals.
“That worked out well, but I did want to branch out,” Wilson said, talking about his past few years running the food truck in Knoxville.
Gonzo Gourmet had become a regular around a few famous corporations, including Regal Cinemas, which has a theater in Gainesville. But in Tennessee the truck was operating from a “postage stamp” of a lot and, while it was still based on local ingredients, Wilson didn’t have the room to grow his own food.
The truck now has “a real focus on farm to table, so we try to bring forward local ingredients, local product, to nearly everything for serve off the truck — except for tater tots, today,” Wilson said, smiling and standing in the parking lot at Tap It.
Tater tots came in at the bottom of Gonzo Gourmet’s menu for the event. But now in Georgia, just about every bit of vegetable served from Gonzo Gourmet comes from Wilson’s Lumpkin County farm, and the meat comes from local farmers. The food and its background went over well at wineries and weddings, but Wilson said he’s looking to add more to the truck’s routine.
Hoping to get back into more regular lunch service, he and his girlfriend, Kim Hughes, made the jump into Hall County — starting with lunch at the hospital.
“I’m looking for more big corporations in Hall County that would love for me to be there for lunch services with their employees,” Wilson said.
The name of the truck was inspired by Hunter S. Thompson and his gonzo journalism. Wilson himself is a graduate of journalism school and spent 10 years working in newspapers, including the Marietta Daily Journal.