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1. wood-fired oven

If you can’t stand the heat, you probably wouldn’t last five minutes aboard

balkan treat box. That’s because Loryn Nalic’s food truck is hot – and not just in terms of its red-hot reputation.

2. coal-fired grill

In just a few square feet, the food truck features no less than three forms of heat: A wood-fired oven baking airy Turkish flatbread, a coal-fired grill lined with Bosnian cevapi sausages and gas-heated spit roaster slowly spinning shaved-to-order chicken. It’s a unique setup, and one that's proved instrumental in creating the wood-fired flavors that have cemented Balkan Treat Box’s reputation among St. Louis’ best restaurants – roaming or otherwise. Although the truck has been on the streets for less than two years (earning its share of raves, including a mention in Food & Wine), Balkan has been a longtime labor of love for Loryn, who owns the business with her husband, Edo. Loryn has worked in the restaurant industry for years, including overseeing pastry and bread service at the now-shuttered Luciano’s Trattoria as well as Tavern 43 and also working special events for the venerable Pappy’s Smokehouse. She credits her childhood best friend, who is Croatian, with first introducing her to cevapi, though it wasn’t until she met Edo – a Sarajevo native who arrived in St. Louis with his family in 1998 seeking refuge after the Bosnian War – that she truly fell in love with Balkan flavors. “It just spoke to me: really slow-style food, beautiful to make and beautiful to watch people make,” Loryn says. “That style of cuisine was really moving for me, and of course it brought back amazing memories for [Edo].”

3. gas spit roaster

“It’s very important to make it as authentic as we can. Back home, somun is something they’ve been doing since the late 1500s and, as you can imagine, they cooked with wood. So it just has to be done with wood.” X Edo Nalic

After they met, Loryn and Edo frequented St. Louis’ many Bosnian restaurants in the Bevo Mill neighborhood. She dreamed of opening her own place and began mapping out plans in her head, but first, she knew she had to go straight to the source. In 2013, Loryn traveled to Sarajevo, where she spent two months working in restaurants, bakeries and home kitchens, furthering her knowledge of Bosnian flavors and cooking techniques. She traveled alone, and actually met Edo’s parents on the trip for the first time after seven years of marriage. “When I was over there, they were willing to share [recipes],” Loryn says. “The culture itself is very hospitable – I felt like they were really excited that somebody cared and wanted to learn about what they were doing. Being true to what I was taught and what I saw is really important.” “They really embraced this American woman wanting to cook their recipes,” Edo adds. In particular, Loryn learned the techniques for preparing cevapi, and how – although styles change from region to region – the dish relies on a simple, straightforward combination of spices. She also fell in love with somun (a soft, chewy Bosnian bread similar to pita bread), and saw firsthand how cooking the bread with fire imparts a flavor that can’t be mimicked in other ovens.

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Profile for Feast Magazine

December 2018 Feast Magazine  

In the December issue, we’re taking a look at how chefs and bakers are using wood-fired ovens for more than traditional Neapolitan-style piz...

December 2018 Feast Magazine  

In the December issue, we’re taking a look at how chefs and bakers are using wood-fired ovens for more than traditional Neapolitan-style piz...

Profile for feaststl