A 10-year dream in the making comes true for a Fox River Grove woman with a unique food concept.
Shauna Fetterman, a culinary school-trained chef, will take part in the 15th season of the Food Network show “The Great Food Truck Race” with her arancini-themed concept, Girl’s Got Balls.
“It’s gourmet take-out food,” she said.
The season premieres at 8 p.m. Sunday, June 5 on Food Network and Discovery+.
Arancini is an Italian rice ball traditionally prepared with risotto, parmesan and toppings such as pancetta and peas, then coated in breadcrumbs and fried. Fetterman gives them his personal touch.
“I actually wanted to be on the show for about 10 years,” Fetterman said. “I’m a really big fan of it and will always watch it.”
The eight-episode season, hosted by Tyler Florence, was filmed in Southern California and features nine teams of aspiring food truck owners from across the country. Competitors, with specialties ranging from fresh pasta to plant-based Cuban dishes, must not only cook great food, but also show off their marketing prowess and sales skills in challenges to earn more money than their rivals and stay in the race.
The season will conclude with the finale airing on July 24, with the final two teams facing off in San Diego and vying for the grand prize of $50,000.
Fetterman said she came up with 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 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 arancini combinations for daily specials. His best-selling “Cheesy Pig” grew out of this experimentation, stuffing the risotto ball with pulled pork and mac and cheese flavors like cheddar and gouda.
Fast forward to 2020, and Fetterman found herself in a customer service role that was eliminated during the pandemic.
She said it was the last push she needed to achieve her dream.
“I needed to do something,” the single mother of two said. “My kids lost their dad (her ex-husband) to COVID, and I had to do something to show them that if you work hard, you can accomplish anything. We needed positivity in our lives.”
She took the last $400 she had in her name and launched Girl’s Got Balls, initially selling them under a tent at local festivals.
The concept came faster than the name.
“I literally had a piece of paper with at least 50 different names revolving around different words for the 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 the business started, everyone loved it – everyone was so supportive, young, old,” a- she declared. “Honestly, I’ve never had any negative comments.”
After a year of working in tents, she bought a cargo trailer that had been converted into a food truck. With a few tweaks, she was able to get it on the road within months. She can be found most Tuesdays at VFW Post 4600 in McHenry, as well as non-food breweries, festivals, private events, and neighborhood pop-ups.
Fetterman says she sees eventually having “a small fleet” of food trucks, in addition to a restaurant.
“Carrie (Jones, co-worker and castmate on the show) and I have been discussing this non-stop, and we have full plans and a concept to open a brick-and-mortar location in the near future.”
She says the restaurant would be in Fox River Grove, where she has lived for 27 years and Jones for 18.
“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 expectation.
“I loved every second,” she said. “I remember the very first time I got on the food truck they gave us, and I knew I was where I needed to be.”