A dream 10 years in the making is coming true for a Fox River Grove woman with a unique food concept.
Shauna Fetterman, a culinary school-trained chef, will compete on the 15th season of the Food Network show “The Great Food Truck Race” with her arancini-themed concept, Girl’s Got Balls.
“It’s handheld gourmet food to go,” she said.
The season premieres at 8 p.m. Sunday, June 5, on Food Network and Discovery+.
Arancini is an Italian rice ball traditionally made with risotto, Parmesan and fillings such as pancetta and peas, then coated with bread crumbs and deep-fried. Fetterman gives them her own special twist.
“I’ve actually been wanting to be on the show for about 10 years,” Fetterman said. “I’m a really big fan of it and would always watch it.”
The eight-episode season, hosted by Tyler Florence, was shot in Southern California and features nine teams of aspiring food truck owners from around the country. The competitors, with specialties ranging from fresh pasta to plant-based Cuban dishes, must not only cook great food but also show their marketing prowess and selling skills in challenges to make more money than their rivals and stay in the race.
The season will wrap up with the finale airing on July 24, with the last two teams going head-to-head in San Diego and battling for the $50,000 grand prize.
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Fetterman said she got the idea for the concept that would become Girl’s Got Balls about 15 years ago.
After graduating from culinary school in 2009, Fetterman learned how to make risotto and arancini while working at an Italian cafe in Barrington called Gavi. Her boss, who was Italian, encouraged her to play around and invent new combinations of arancini for daily specials. Her bestselling “Cheesy Pig” was born of this experimentation, stuffing the risotto ball with pulled pork and mac and cheese flavors such as cheddar and Gouda.
Fast forward to 2020, and Fetterman found herself working in a customer service job that was eliminated during the pandemic.
She said it was the last push she needed to follow her dream.
“I needed to do something,” said the single mom of two. “My kids lost their father (her ex-husband) to COVID, and I needed to do something to show them that if you work hard you can accomplish anything. We needed some positivity in our lives.”
She took the last $400 that she had to her name and launched Girl’s Got Balls, initially selling them from under a tent at local festivals.
The concept came together faster than the name.
“I literally had a piece of paper with at least 50 different names revolving around different words for balls,” she said.
Her sister tried to talk her out of her final selection.
“She said it was vulgar and no one would buy from me, but after launching the company, everyone loved it — everyone was so supportive, young, old,” she said. “Honestly, I’ve never had any negative feedback.”
After a year of working under tents, she bought a cargo trailer that had been converted into a food truck. With some tweaks, she was able to get it on the road in a couple of months. She can be found most Tuesdays at VFW Post 4600 in McHenry, as well as at breweries that don’t serve food, festivals, private events and neighborhood pop-ups.
Fetterman says she eventually sees having “a small fleet” of food trucks, in addition to a restaurant.
“Carrie (Jones, co-worker and teammate from the show) and I have been discussing it nonstop, and we have full plans and a concept to open a brick and mortar location in the near future.”
She says that the restaurant would be in Fox River Grove, where she has lived for 27 years and Jones for 18 years.
“We want to stay close to home,” Fetterman said. “People have been very supportive of us.”
She said her experience on the show lived up to 10 years of expectations.
“I loved every second of it,” she said. “I remember the very first time I stepped in the food truck they gave us, and I knew I was where I should be.”
You can find where Girl’s Got Balls will be next on their Facebook page and eatatggb.com. They’re scheduled to take part in the 2nd Annual Woodstock Food Truck Festival on June 4.