By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN From juicy ribs to sizzling steaks, Ted Moonen, Jeff Vanderlinde, and Derek Schansberg can battle with the best when it comes to barbecuing.
The Delano team, Shiggin & Grinnin, smoked the competition at the state barbeque championship in Marshall, receiving first place overall.
“This year, we’re going to try to cook in five different states,” Vanderlinde said.
The team is qualified for the American Royal BBQ in Kansas City, and is in the drawing for the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational.
Professional barbecuing combines some of the guys’ favorite activities spending time outdoors, socializing, camping, and, of course, sampling delicious food.
“It’s not a good hobby to be around if you like staying skinny or being on a diet,” Moonen said.
“We all like cooking and eating,” Schansberg said. All three team members graduated from Delano High School, and they’ve been friends for 30 years.
Each person on the team plays a different role. Vanderlinde is in charge of meat and spice preparation, and Moonen is the pitmaster, which means he watches the fire overnight.
“I do answer to the title of ‘pitmaster,’ and I answer to a lot worse names if the fires do go out,” Moonen joked.
As for Schansberg, “some days, we’re not sure what he does,” Vanderlinde laughed.
Schansberg is known as “pretty boy” in the BBQ world.
“One of the other teams named him that because he’s in good shape,” Vanderlinde explained. “Most BBQ guys are big, fat guys.”
Typically, competitions begin on Friday evening, and judging is on Saturday.
“We burn lump-coal, wood, and pellets all of which need special attention,” Moonen said. “Temperatures must be held for up to 12 hours, which means you are up most of the night keeping on eye on the smokers.”
As the pitmaster, Moonen said he doesn’t mind this part of the job.
“Staying awake all night mainly requires doing a little socializing and some visiting with the neighbors and fellow BBQers,” he said.
Shiggin & Grinnin
Shiggin & Grinnin started competing about a year ago. The word “shiggin” is a slang term in the BBQ world that means to steal BBQ secrets, Vanderlinde said. The term is a widely accepted joke, and no one takes it seriously.
“And we’re grinning because we’re winning,” Vanderlinde added.
The team is looking forward to more competitions this year, with high hopes of participating in the world championship.
“It was always our dream,” Vanderlinde said.
Scott Schreier of Delano is the team’s wood supplier.
“He also cuts, packages, and delivers it to us, sometimes delivering it right to the events,” Moonen said. “Sometimes, he stays up all night with us as long as he is there.”
“We use different types of wood for different types of meat,” Vanderlinde said.
In addition to using the correct type of wood, the cooking method and flavorings also play a role in making the perfect piece of meat.
Competition judging is based on appearance, taste, and texture.
Moonen said his favorite meat is the “brisket.”
“Any meat is very good when you give it the time and attention we do at the competitions, but barbecuing brisket is just different enough,” Moonen said. “I also think there is a little more pride when turning a lesser-class cut of meat into something so tasty.”
The cost of the meat, travel, supplies, and entrance fees make competition barbecuing a fairly expensive hobby, Vanderlinde said.
“Like anything that consumes time and money, we couldn’t do it without the help and support of our families,” Moonen said.
However, winning a contest can offset expenses, with prize money that can range from $10,000 to $30,000.
The team isn’t in it for the money, however.
“Each weekend feels like a very compact vacation getaway,” Moonen noted. “There is so much to do in such a small window of time. There is way more work involved than most people can realize, and having a team that can share all the responsibilities makes it a very fun hobby.”