Turning up the heat with St. John’s Fire Food Truck

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by Katherine Whaley/ KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on March 7, 2014 at 11:07 AM

Updated Friday, Mar 7 at 11:47 AM

HOUSTON -- Can you handle the heat? It is Food Truck Friday, and today we are checking out St. John’s Fire. This truck lives up to its name -- the chef is a Louisiana transplant who specializes in spicy southern favorites.

“He has that whole Texas-Louisiana feel,” Felice Simmons of Urban Swank blog says of Joel St. John, the chef who started the “fire.”

Joel is a Houston native, but New Orleans is his second city. He worked in NOLA for two decades at revered establishments such as Commander’s Palace. He eventually returned to Houston, and opened up the food truck three years ago. Unlike other food truck entrepreneurs, this guy has a few grey hairs.

“Everybody sort of test the water with their food truck, well I did it just the opposite,” Joel explained.

But with age comes wisdom. Ironically, Joel majored in marine biology in college, but instead of studying fish for a career, he decided to cook them. His menu highlights his Gulf Coast culinary training, with items such as the Cajun Eggroll, Shrimp Corndogs, and Tortilla Crusted Fish.

“I remember when I first took a bite of it, I was like shut the yum up, because it was crazy!” Felice said of the Cajun Eggroll.

The eggroll is a study in “fusion” cooking. The Asian-inspired dish is stuffed with traditional Cajun ingredients (crawfish, tasso, onions, celery, and peppers), yet it “Texas-sized” – definitely worth sharing with a friend.

Along with the southern flavors, comes southern hospitality. Chef Joel knows many of his customers by name, and his friendly wife, Gretchen, often accompanies him to help out with the crowds.

“Every time we come here we’re not sure if we’re coming here to see Joel or to taste the food,” Shanna Jones of Urban Swank laughed.

Joel credits his success to having a “fire in the belly.”

“Cooking is my passion, my fire, my reason for being around really,” he explained.

You can catch up St. John’s Fire by following them on twitter @firetrucktx or checking their website.

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