On the Line / Sam Geyer and Matthew Pauszek
Owners of Lomo Lomo food truck
Lomo Lomo owners, Sam Geyer and Matthew Pauszek
Photo by kc kratt
Name: Matt Puaszek and Sam Geyer; 30 and 29, respectively
Title and location: Co-owners and co-chefs
Location: lomo lomo; lomofoodtruck.com
If you hadn’t become chefs/cooks, what would you have done instead?
Matthew Pauszek: I would’ve been chief of surgery. Or a cowboy.
Sam Geyer: Truck driver. I’ve always liked to be on the road, driving into new cities and seeing new places.
It seems like just yesterday the Buffalo food community was divided over the issue of food trucks. Should Buffalo make legislation that encourages their existence, or should the Common Council make it hard for food trucks to operate? Today, thanks to the persistence of the WNY Food Truck Association, the region has more food trucks than it knows what to do with. At last count, more than fifty food trucks call Buffalo home.
Food trucks first gained popularity for their exploration of adventurous and nontraditional fare. The small businesses were often led by visionary chefs without the capital to put such a risky operation in a pricier (and more permanent) location. But, as with all marvelous, chart coursing, underground phenomena, it was only a matter of time until the mainstream entered the field. Today in WNY, most food trucks offer pretty prosaic menus.
Lomo Lomo is an exception. The truck’s wildly colored exterior lets diners know its vision is anything but mundane. Owners Sam Geyer and Matthew Pauszek dispatch boldly flavored food from the truck’s tiny side window, dishes that mash Asian and South American foods together with delectable results. In his spare time, Geyer works in the kitchen at Marble + Rye; Matt teaches nutrition at Niagara Culinary.
Of the challenges associated with operating a food truck, which are most frustrating for you?
MP: People thinking we should have a fast food menu or sell the same things you can find on countless other menus.
SG: The permitting. Permits vary so wildly from town to town, so it leaves us exposed to the whim of whatever municipalities we are serving in.
What obsession, food-related or otherwise, is currently a source of inspiration for you?
MP: I’ve been super into barbecuing and smoking foods and combining that technique with flavors you wouldn’t expect. We will actually be doing special menus throughout the summer at Buffalo Distilling Co., featuring some of the dishes I’ve been playing with.
SG: Art! Our truck was conceptualized with the help of Matt’s brother, Tim Pauszek. We never wanted to be “the lunch truck” or “the event truck.” We wanted to express ourselves and our art through this medium–cooking food that means something to us. Most trucks aren’t doing this right now because the profitability [attached to] that way of thinking is scary small. No, we don’t have French fries. Or ketchup.
What is your favorite dish from the truck?
SG: Our ramen. It isn’t available very often, but we do a damn good job with it. We make our own noodles, which is supremely labor intensive. Those, paired with a broth we’ve simmered for ten-plus hours, makes a good meal on a cold Buffalo day.
Do you ever feel hemmed in by the truck’s theme?
MP: We built Lomo Lomo on our culinary point of view and that is how we find our success. People tend to think our food is out there, but we’re just building our menu on flavors we love and food we’d want to eat ourselves. If anything is constraining, it’s the fact that people want tacos or nachos from us, and not the creative, composed dishes we’d rather serve. Finding the right balance is key.
Favorite LP to prep by?
MP: Minus the Bear, Planet of Ice and DANGERDOOM, The Mouse and the Mask.
SG: Danger Mouse, The Grey Album.
What do you wish you could change about the food truck industry?
MP: I’d love to have more impromptu services, rather than scheduling things months in advance. There isn’t quite enough foot traffic to just roll up on the street somewhere, and the parking restrictions downtown are lame.
SG: People’s perception of what a food truck is supposed to be. Our menu is small and we don’t have much storage, so we have to be very selective. Not every food truck can be Lloyd (we wish), and we don’t all have chicken fingers or “something for the kids.” Did I mention we don’t have ketchup?
What’s the most exciting thing about Buffalo’s restaurant scene?
MP: The number of chefs opening their own spots.
SG: The talent level. We have some talented humans working in our city, humans who are very passionate and creative. It’s so exciting to share spaces with people who are putting our city on the map.