By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN “I was shaking so bad when we were up there it still hasn’t set in,” said Jeff Vanderlinde, whose Delano barbecue team, Shiggin & Grinnin, was just named overall grand champion in the largest competition in the world.
“We were all ready to root for whoever won, and then our name was called. It was like, how do we handle this?” teammate Ted Moonen said, recalling the night of Oct. 7.
“It kind of shocked us,” teammate Derek Schansberg added.
With 545 teams from several countries competing in the American Royal 33rd annual World Series of Barbecue championship, the odds of winning were slim.
“We got fourth place in the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue last year,” Vanderlinde said. “For a team from Delano, Minnesota, we thought that was probably the best we could do.”
The team was ecstatic to be proven wrong, as judges ranked their mouth-watering chicken, ribs, pork shoulder, and brisket.
“Everything went smoothly,” said Schansberg, who’s known as “Pretty Boy.”
As the head cook, Vanderlinde is “Den Mother,” and Moonen goes by “Papa Moonen,” or just plain “Papa.”
A tasty pastime
Schansberg, Vanderlinde, and Moonen are all Delano High School grads, and have been friends for more than three decades. With similar interests camping, socializing, and grilling it was only a matter of time before barbecuing became their competitive hobby.
Their team name, Shiggin & Grinnin, comes from a widely accepted joke in the BBQ world. “Shiggin” means to steal BBQ secrets, and they’re “grinning because they’re winning.”
Worldwide success for a hobby team is rare. For most professional teams, barbecuing is their full-time job.
“I put the big-name barbecue guys you see on TV on a pedestal,” Moonen said. “It really boosts your confidence in your hobby knowing that you can compete with them. We were like, ‘Wow. We beat them.’”
As a Minnesota team, Shiggin & Grinnin is also an unexpected winner.
“A team from Minnesota is not supposed to compete with teams from Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma,” Vanderlinde said last year.
According to Schansberg, Minnesota isn’t in the “barbecue belt,” and doesn’t have nearly as many competitions as some states.
“We’ve got friends in almost every state,” Vanderlinde said. “The first thing they always want to know is how a Minnesota team got there. Then, they want to know how we beat them.”
Of course, a good barbecue team never reveals its secrets.
Claim to fame
Since they achieved official status as the “kings of barbecue,” Schansberg, Moonen, and Vanderlinde have had a hard time avoiding the limelight.
“The phone’s been ringing off the hook with sponsorships and radio interviews,” Vanderlinde said. “It’s been crazy.”
“We thought we were done for this season, but because we won, we’ve been invited to three additional contests,” Schansberg said.
They’re not sure if they’ll attend the Las Vegas World Food Championship in a few weeks, but they’re definitely looking forward to a competition at the Kingsford headquarters in Missouri the middle of November.
“There are seven teams total, and the grand prize is $50,000,” Schansberg said. Only the most prestigious teams are invited to participate.
The guys are also excited for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo world championship barbecue contest in February.
“That event draws 250,000 spectators,” Vanderlinde said.
With their recent success at the American Royal, the grins on the faces of Shiggin & Grinnin aren’t likely to wipe off anytime soon.
“We don’t do it for the money or the glory, but when it comes, we’ll take it,” Moonen laughed.