Not gourmet, but smarter

By Maddie Ramsey

Maddie Ramsey talks to Chuck Wagon Head Chef Ryan Stanton about the rise of the burger in Adelaide, Martha Stewart and stupid-good sandwiches.

‘We’re very happy with what we do, what we make,’ says Stanton.

We’re sitting at a corner table at Chuck Wagon, located at the northern end of O’Connell Street, surrounded by vintage film posters, graffiti and life-size statues of Captain America and Batman. The giant chalkboard wall is covered with illustrations of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and old Spiderman cartoons play on the TV, which is wired to a couple of Guitar Hero controllers hanging on the wall. Along with the rising popularity of the burger in Adelaide, this American-style eatery has stayed ahead of the game despite a number of new competitors joining the race. So what keeps them on top?

‘I am not using the word “gourmet”. We’re not gourmet; we just have a smarter agenda.’

That agenda is to make true American-style dishes, using local produce when they can’t get it from the States. Classic, inventive and pop culture-inspired burgers fill the menu to the brim, along with Southern-style Buffalo wings and pizza fries, all followed by an ‘insane’ dessert menu.

Stanton’s favourite is the Polo Loco ($13), which he developed since being hired in February, and includes double-crusted chicken breast fillets dipped in Chuck’s Special Hot Sauce, with Signature Chuck Coleslaw, fresh tomato and cheddar cheese sauce on a soft, toasted, sweet bun, though he also says that Chuck’s Stuffed Sandwich ($14) is ‘stupid good’.

‘The cuisine itself is very easy, but the volume is very hard,’ says Stanton.

And no doubt. Over the past year or so, Chuck Wagon has risen to glory, so much so that they’re desperately trying to find a second location. The team can be thanked for that, as their dedication to their growing audience is evident.

Staff can remember an order off by heart and are more than accommodating, happy to have a chat about Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy when they can. And whilst he has never travelled to the States, Stanton knows exactly where to look for the right influences when coming up with his creations.

‘Blogs! I cannot stress reading enough,’ says Stanton, who turned to home cooks, Martha Stewart and a book on molecular gastronomy to develop Chuck’s signature cornbread recipe.

‘[We] want to be able to stand by each product…[and] make food people really appreciate.’

And appreciate we do, Chuck Wagon, appreciate we do.

Trading times, menus and links to social media are available at