VZD’s Alex Aguilar puts his money where his burger is.
Alex Aguilar is a nerd. He happily owns the playground and classroom insult, and his nerdy quest for information, learning, and understanding has driven his entry into the kitchen of VZD’s Restaurant and Bar at 4200 N. Western Ave., a space he didn’t feel qualified to occupy at first.
“I still struggle with impostor syndrome,” Aguilar said. “I didn’t know how to do this, but I’ve always had a do-what-you-got-to-do mentality, so I’m making it work.”
The native of San Jose, California, moved to OKC with his family when he was 4 years old. He’d go on to play football at UCO after graduating from Putnam City North High School, and he talks about his mother as his main source of inspiration and what he calls “generational appreciation.”
“I was the youngest, so my mom had more time to be involved with me,” he said. “She left a job running one of Santiago’s busiest McDonald’s franchises to be the lunch lady at my elementary and middle school. She took an admin job at my high school. I’m ashamed to say that I was a little embarrassed at the lunch lady job, but Mom made it cool. After school, she’d cook for my friends again at our house, and then drive us to practice.”
When it came time to make a burger for VZD’s revamped menu, Aguilar thought about his mom and how the addition is a chance to talk about her and her influence.
“The song popped into my head from childhood: ‘Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun,’” he said. “I knew I was making a burger that was sort of based on the Big Mac.”
He also took inspiration from two of his other favorites: Smashburger and In-N-Out Burger. So take a Big Mac, a Double Double and a smash burger, and then nerd it up — that was the formula, and he’s a problem solver who would make an excellent engineer. Two beef patties, one smaller than the other so they cook properly when stacked, Kraft American cheese because it melts like a blanket of gooey deliciousness, fried onions, a sauce he created that he says Raising Cane’s would use if it opened a burger joint — heavy on Worcestershire and red wine vinegar — iceberg lettuce because it stacks right, and then a bun that is always brioche on the bottom because it holds up.
The planning was meticulous — and yes, nerdy — but the result is a burger so delicious that it’s become a phenomenon. As of February 2023, he’s preparing a head-to-head contest with multiple chefs whom he’s challenged to beat his burger. The prize is $1,000 of his own money. Aguilar’s impostor syndrome has given way to cash-on-the-table confidence.