Savory favorites

Food / September 11, 2017

New food truck joins Spa City scene

Nan Diaz-Gooch has always had a job that allowed her to serve people while working independently, first with a nail salon and then as a nurse. Her latest venture is the New Day Gourmet food truck, from which she and her family offer up tasty bites with a quickness.

Along with help from her husband, Todd Gooch, the truck itself was found on Craigslist and purchased in October. They worked for several months to get all the necessary paperwork and recipes in line, making their Hot Springs debut at Food Truck Fridays, held in May in the Hot Springs Farmers & Artisans Market.

Though their primary residence is in Little Rock, they have property in the Spa City, and she chose that location as the truck’s home because, “For some reason, it always feels like you’re on vacation in Hot Springs,” she said.

Of course for the business, it’s indeed a working vacation, as she spends several hours leading up to any event getting everything prepped before service even

Owner Nan Diaz-Gooch stirs soup inside her New Day Gourmet food truck.

Owner Nan Diaz-Gooch stirs soup inside her New Day Gourmet food truck.

begins. But for her, the work combines life’s best aspects — “I love to cook, and the truck has my favorite things of family, friends, food and fun.”

When coming up with a menu, she knew they didn’t want to fry anything. She decided to go with comfort food items that her family loves, like sausages, baked potatoes and soups.

But this isn’t just a regular hot dog on a bun situation. At New Day Gourmet, recognized sausage brands including Petit Jean and Johnsonville are browned to perfection, served in a toasted sourdough roll that’s been basted in garlic butter, then topped with deluxe sauces and condiments.

“We want everything fresh, fast and high-quality,” she said, so they go the extra mile of getting their sourdough buns from Arkansas Fresh Bakery in Benton. The bread has a chew one would expect from sourdough, which stands up to the meat and toppings in a way traditional buns couldn’t.

One creation is the spicy Italian sausage that simmers in a homemade marinara sauce, then gets pepperoni, grilled green peppers and onions, and  mozzarella cheese added to amp up the flavor profile. Another favorite is a Polish sausage, served with the grilled vegetables or sauerkraut or both. The hot dogs are plump, 100 percent beef sausages that can come dressed to any specification — plain, mustard, ketchup, chili, cheese or even crumbled bacon.

Roasted potatoes are specialized to taste, too, and can include any above additions, along with real butter, sour cream and freshly chopped chives. “I make the potatoes as if I’m going to eat them, so there’s no skimping,” she said.

All soups and chilis are made from scratch by Diaz-Gooch, and varieties range from chicken noodle with leeks, potato, broccoli cheese, taco soup, chicken curry, and a vegetable beef soup with green beans, corn, celery, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and onion. She stocks the truck with one flavor at any given time, and is always testing out new recipes to expand the options.

the Sentinel-Owner Nan Diaz-Gooch, bottom left, daughters Maegan Diaz and Anna Diaz, and her husband, Todd Gooch.

the Sentinel-Owner Nan Diaz-Gooch, bottom left, daughters Maegan Diaz and Anna Diaz, and her husband, Todd Gooch.

“I love soups,” she said, adding that her adult son says his favorite kielbasa sausage and potato soup even cures homesickness with its comforting properties.

New Day Gourmet can cater for 100-200 people, and she’s completely open to customizing the food for a client. In fact, going with a breakfast theme was a strong possibility at first, and she’d be happy to specialize a menu for a brunch-type catering event with items like hashbrown casserole and egg creations.

For now, the truck is set up from noon to 7 p.m. on the third Sunday of each month at the 910 Park Avenue Food Truck Park, established by Itz güd füd owner Elaine Nesmith. As time goes on, Diaz-Gooch imagines New Day Gourmet will expand both the dates and locations of service.

For her, there’s definitely a stand-out aspect to this business — “My favorite part is that it’s something I can do with my family … It’s almost like camping,” she said, with the set-up, hanging out together and cleanup afterward. She emphasized that running the truck wouldn’t be possible without the support of her husband and children.

She’s felt love from the community, too, and said, “The public has been so wonderful and accepting of the food truck movement that it’s made it a joy to try this.”

She realizes that word of mouth is her best advertisement, and encourages her customers to give feedback, either in person or on the New Day Gourmet Facebook page.

Both cash and card payment are accepted at the truck.

To arrange for catering, call or text 501-247-8984 at least a week in advance, and earlier if possible.

Lorien Dahl

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September 11, 2017