July 28, 2023

Teena Anderson Anoka Meats


Today we have a special guest joining us, Teena Anderson – the Anoka Grilling Queen from Anoka Meats! Teena owns Anoka Meat and Sausage, a full-time grill located outside her butcher shop. But her journey to becoming the Grilling Queen was not always on the menu. Teena reinvented herself after leaving the corporate world and living in a diner for 20 years. Now, she’s a thriving entrepreneur in the culinary world. Today, we’ll dive into Teena’s fascinating story – from starting a small salad business to taking over Anoka Meat and Sausage. Plus, we’ll explore her love for cooking, and her passion for specialty ingredients. Get ready to fire up the grill and join us as we uncover the secrets of the Anoka Grilling Queen on this episode of Makers of Minnesota!


Stephanie [00:00:14]:

Hello, everybody. Welcome to Dishing with Stephanie’s Dish, the podcast where we talk to people in the food space who are as obsessed with food as I am, whether they’re cookbook, writers or just foodie aficionados. Like our guest today, whose name is Tina Anderson, and she bills herself as the grilling queen of anoka, which anoka is a big place, Tina. These are high standards.

Teena Anderson [00:00:36]:

It really is. We run a full time grill outside our butcher shop. I bought Anoka meat and sausage about a year and a half and a half ago, and I’ve always had a passion for the industry, but I really did reinvent myself. I came out of the corporate world, and I lived in a diner for 20 years. I started a small salad business, and I started catering things on the side. And my passion really kind of turned into my new future career. And Anoka Meat and sausage fell in my lap twice. Not only once, but twice, and I couldn’t really pass it up.

Stephanie [00:01:15]:

Well, tell me about that story because that sounds like one for the books.

Teena Anderson [00:01:18]:

Yeah. So I was just cooking along in my career and doing this little side hustle following my passion, and business broker approached me and said, you know, there’s a meat market that’s going up for sale in October. Would you be interested? And I said yes. Sure. But when I got close to doing it, somebody had bought it and looked at it. Timing was bad. My mom had cancer. She passed away. We had moved up north a little closer to Albertville, and the deal fell through. Somebody had bought it, and he was trying to buy two businesses. Couldn’t get it done. And long story short, the business broker reached back out to me a year later, and then I kind of went to business and said, you know what? This has crossed my path by path twice now, and I should really take a serious, hard look at it. And I did. And then following March, it was a done deal.

Stephanie [00:02:22]:

So I find it funny, like, not ha ha funny, but interesting funny that you went from, like, you think you’re doing salads, which is your cake business. Right? And now all of a sudden, you’re in this meat business.

Teena Anderson [00:02:37]:


Stephanie [00:02:37]:

Meat is super different and requires different skill sets. Are you a butcher and did you have any of that knowledge?

Teena Anderson [00:02:43]:

I did not have any formal training. I started working a lot of ton of farmers markets. I developed my own barbecue sauce line. It’s called sweet teas. And I’ve got a rhubarb barbecue sauce, bourbon, peach. It’s sort of a gourmet, unique, niche barbecue saucing, and it was just like gangbusters. And then I started doing other things for people. I’m Scandinavian, so I was doing left side. I was doing meatballs, Swedish meatballs, and then I was also doing pulled pork and tons of ribs for my barbecue sauce. So cooking has been my passion for a very long time. Even though outside of starting that little salad business that kind of launched my name, but I had such a broader perspective of the things I made. Homemade potato sausage and in my neighborhood people kind of call me the meatball lady.

Stephanie [00:03:46]:

I’m the tomato lady on TV, so we got that going for us.

Teena Anderson [00:03:50]:

I’ve been hustling barbecue sauce and Swedish meatballs and rosettes and Krumkaka and all kinds of different things for a long time.

Stephanie [00:04:03]:

Sorry, go ahead.

Teena Anderson [00:04:05]:

I really just wanted a platform where I could do all the things I loved and then also fulfill a need for when you’re a specialty cook. The way we ate changed a lot in the everything went to process. Big box stores and butcher shops became fewer and fewer around and I’ll just call myself a home cook, so to speak, even though I’ve written a cookbook and all that kind of stuff. You can’t buy a bone in anything anymore. Good luck trying to find a brisket, good luck trying to find a crown roast at a local grocery store. The resources weren’t out there and I get super frustrated and I like to make very creative recipes sometimes and I was just like I want to make a resurgence of the old fashioned butcher shop. I want to have the availability, the people know that they can come and get whatever they want, custom cuts for barbecuing or family events, that kind of stuff.

Stephanie [00:05:09]:

So tell me about the cookbook that you have.

Teena Anderson [00:05:12]:

Sure. 2019 I did a cookbook my first ISBN I should say, and it was called all about Gratitude and it’s more like a holiday fair cookbook with all kinds of great recipes on it in it. Like my Swedish meatballs and my crown roast turkey, making that Thanksgiving turkey, all kinds of different things. And after that, that was all before I bought the butcher shop. And then now I’m kind of finding myself in a place where I’m cooking on TV, live on Twin Cities live about once a month and I’m going to be on Fox Nine on the 4 July. And then I got lucky to be introduced to you through my person who reaches out to I just got to be really busy with everything so I hired what do you call it, publicist. Thank you. Word escaped me there for a SEC, a publicist. And she’s like, well let me just look at a few places around your market and see where you might fit. And I was just so thrilled.

Stephanie [00:06:27]:

So let’s just chat for 1 second about you called yourself a home cook, which is what I call myself, yeah. And I call myself that because I feel like if you’ve gone to culinary school or you’ve owned a restaurant that puts you in like a chef category and I have never done that or had that training. So I’m just a home cook. Is that kind of your distinction.

Teena Anderson [00:06:51]:

Absolutely. And I have a Facebook group called Sweet Tea’s Kitchen that I have about 1300 followers. Locally or regionally? Locally. And I put all of my Twin Cities live episodes out there, all of my recipes. I cook almost every day online and I posting things, what I’m doing today, special projects.

Stephanie [00:07:16]:

What do you find that people that follow you are interested in learning more about or interested in cooking these days?

Teena Anderson [00:07:23]:

A couple of different things. I think there is a real desire to renew old fashioned cooking. Like, I just make cooking things like my Swedish meatballs or Lesa. People really want to have that touchy, silly heritage stuff, but mix in there. Everybody loves a great Italian dinner. Or I make a veal papperdale pasta dish and different things like that that are just hearty interesting and you can make at home that they sound more difficult than they really are.

Stephanie [00:08:00]:


Teena Anderson [00:08:01]:

So I’d like, kind of take old recipes but put a more modern flair.

Stephanie [00:08:05]:

On them when you cook on TV. I think that cooking on TV is like a unique skill set. Is it different than when you’re cooking in your kitchen or doing your Facebook lives? And how is it different?

Teena Anderson [00:08:20]:

It’s different because I love it so much and I just love it. I get to share a part of me that’s even though I’m cooking, it’s that artistic outlet that you’re expressing your love for cooking in a whole different way. Knowing people ask me, Are you nervous? I said, well, at first I was very nervous, but I’m not anymore because I think of it more as a conversation, right. With my friends. This is what we talk about. Or make me a little dummy up or shortened up because we only have five or six minutes to get it all done. So we condense it. However, it’s the same. It’s just the thrill of sharing recipes with other people that are interested in the same thing as I am.

Stephanie [00:09:10]:

Right. When you think about meat in particular, have you noticed a difference in the meat market? Like people being interested in more vegetarian things? And do you carry some of the, I guess, fake meat, we’ll call it?

Teena Anderson [00:09:24]:

Yeah, we don’t we carry everything that we can. Like our organic Amish chicken. We have some grass fed things that we order. You can order a half a cow through us or a quarter. We can do grass fed or non grass fed. I tend to feel that prime is a little overrated, even though it has its place. Not only and I may differ in opinion with a lot of other people, but it gets somewhat of a marketing thing for the agricultural people to make more money sometimes.

Stephanie [00:10:01]:


Teena Anderson [00:10:02]:

There is a place for it. There is a place for grass fed. But like, if you’re making a prime rib, I say you don’t want grass fed. You want the fat, you want marrow, you want the buttery flavor that comes from a corn fed animal. And realistically, the only difference is all animals are pasture fed on grass, but they’re also supplemented with corn and other things. So there’s a little bit of a mystery there. I kind of feel like it’s a little trickery on how it’s put out to the public.

Stephanie [00:10:39]:

Yeah. We have grass fed beef. We have corn fed beef. We have grass fed corn finished beef.

Teena Anderson [00:10:46]:

Yes, exactly. They use things like rotated pastures. It’s all stuff that every cow is on a rotated pasture. Unless you’re living on a tiny farm in the middle of nowhere with a barn and one stall, they’re out in the pasture eating fresh grass all the time. But what gives it the great marbling and some of those flavors that you want is going to be grass fed, is going to be a lot leaner and have a little different flavor.

Stephanie [00:11:17]:

Anoka meat and sausage, obviously. I’m assuming sausage is kind of your sweet spot. Are you like one of those places that has the crazy sausages, too? Like the wild rice habanero and the gummy bear?

Teena Anderson [00:11:30]:

Absolutely. We’re kind of known as the home of the three inch ribeye. We’ve got butter steaks. It’s a terrace major muscle. It’s a non working muscle of a shoulder and a cow. It’s very much like a tenderloin or fillet, but you just don’t want to cook it. You want to make sure you cook it medium rare to keep it tender. But then you’re right. We have this other side. We smoke fish, we process deer, we make sausage. We have beef sticks, jerky. We have our own two smokers that are going pretty much all the time and a very big part of our business.

Stephanie [00:12:05]:

What’s? Your weirdest sausage?

Teena Anderson [00:12:07]:

Tina Let me think about weirdest. Oh, we get some good ones. We’ve got like a baked bean broad.

Stephanie [00:12:14]:

Yum. That sounds amazing.

Teena Anderson [00:12:16]:

It’s a little bit out of my taste. I tend like myself to stay in more of the classic flavors. A beer broad or a plain fresh brat is really good to me. But I do love our mac and cheese brats.

Stephanie [00:12:31]:

Tell me about that. It just sounds like a burst of cheese. Yum.

Teena Anderson [00:12:35]:

Yeah. And just a little bit of chew from the macaroni. It’s so good. I love it. Some people love our dill pickle brats and then we’ve oh, gosh, we got like, the mango habanero.

Stephanie [00:12:49]:


Teena Anderson [00:12:51]:

Just wild rice. We have blueberry wild rice. Summer sausage that we make. We have jumbo homemade wieners. There’s nothing better than once or twice a summer having a skin on homemade wiener.

Stephanie [00:13:04]:

Skin on homemade wiener is my jam.

Teena Anderson [00:13:08]:

If you’re up north a lot and you’re doing campfire cooking and it’s just so easy and yummy.

Stephanie [00:13:13]:

Yeah. And I love Polish sausages, too.

Teena Anderson [00:13:16]:

Absolutely. And we do our own Swedish potato sausage and our own Swedish meatball mix. So we’ve got a big variety of things.

Stephanie [00:13:27]:

So when you talk about potato sausage and some of those I guess I’m going to call them like old world arts, as it were, because that’s kind of something that came over maybe from the Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Scandinavian folks. Are you rediscovering a love for those?

Teena Anderson [00:13:47]:

Yep. And that’s kind of where I started before I moved up here living Den, I was doing the Swedish meatballs because you can’t find it anymore. Not everybody is as adventurous in the kitchen and they’ve got their grandmother’s old recipe or they’ve got their mom’s recipe and they may not be brave enough to do it. So I started saying, hey, I make Swedish meatballs. And they’re like, I want to put me on the list. I love Swedish meatballs.

Stephanie [00:14:13]:


Teena Anderson [00:14:14]:

And I think one fall, the first fall I moved up here, I sold like nine to 1200 meatballs just in my neighborhood.

Stephanie [00:14:21]:

When you think about cookbooks that inspired you, are there like specific books that are on your shelf that you would never give away?

Teena Anderson [00:14:29]:

Definitely. I’ve got a Better Homes and Garden Heritage Cookbook. That was my mother’s. And it’s all about foods of America from immigrants.

Stephanie [00:14:38]:

Oh, neat.

Teena Anderson [00:14:39]:

It is so fascinating. And it has a story for every region and all of the nationalities during the big immigration, at least into the United States in the early 18 hundreds. Early 19 hundreds, right. In fact, my grandmother’s cooking recipe was in there. My mom’s Swedish meatball recipe is in there. Very similar alert. They’re not exact, but they did just such a great job of covering the southern states. Louisiana, I learned a lot about Florida, the Spanish influence coming through there. And it’s a great book. I also tell you I’m in the middle of trying to read Julia Child’s cookbook that is like an encyclopedia.

Stephanie [00:15:25]:

Yeah, she’s got a few. Are you going through the original Mastering the Art of the French Chef?

Teena Anderson [00:15:30]:

Yes, and I’m finding so many things in there that I know, like sweet bread. We carry sweet breads in our butcher shop. I’ve never made them. It’s on my list to conquer at some point. I hope I can. That one’s a little far fetched out there for me, as far as my palate is. I think there’s only two things that I don’t really like as far as food is concerned. And that one I’m just trying to drum up the okay.

Stephanie [00:15:59]:

Sweet breads, which I actually do like sweet breads. If they’re prepared, I do. I didn’t think I would, but then I had them and veal sweet breads in particular, which if you’re not familiar, it is brain. It is a piece of the brain and it is fried and pan fried sometimes. Or breaded. What’s your other thing you don’t do, Tina?

Teena Anderson [00:16:22]:

I’m not a real big fan of mutton. I like a nice lamb chop, but it’s a little gamey for me.

Stephanie [00:16:28]:

I love lamb, but I refuse to do like, haggis or blood sausage.

Teena Anderson [00:16:33]:

Yeah, right. I haven’t done blood sausage since I was a kid.

Stephanie [00:16:37]:

Those are my hard nose.

Teena Anderson [00:16:39]:

Yep. I love ludafisk. I like know there’s just not a lot of people these days don’t like ludafisk anymore. And I love Ludafisk.

Stephanie [00:16:48]:

I wouldn’t say I love, but I would do know I would do it.

Teena Anderson [00:16:52]:

I kind of compare it to a sea bass a little bit. It’s a little.

Stephanie [00:16:58]:

Well, it’s been super fun to talk with you, the anoka grilling queen. We will put a link to Sweet tea’s kitchen facebook page in our show notes so that people can find that also a link to anoka meat and sausage. I just really have enjoyed talking with you, and I may contact you about some other projects I’m working on. You sound like you’re a real fun chick.

Teena Anderson [00:17:19]:

Oh, you do too. And I feel like I know you already, but that’s just because I’ve been following you for years. And I do have what do you call it? A manuscript that I need to pitch to the historical Minnesota press at some point. I’d love to pick your brain on some ideas. Sure.

Stephanie [00:17:36]:

Feel free to DM me or reach out anytime. I’d be happy to help you spread the word.

Teena Anderson [00:17:40]:

Thank you.

Stephanie [00:17:41]:

All right, tina, it’s great to talk to you. Thanks.

Teena Anderson [00:17:43]:

Yes. Bye.