Judging at the National Buffalo Wing Festival: A Hot & Saucy Time
Labor Day weekend may signal the unofficial end to summer but for many fowl fans that date means it's time to consume chicken wings of every size, taste and style. Drew Cerza, the Wing King himself, said the 12th annual event welcomed in 15 new eateries from around the country, Canada and from our own back yard. Coca-Cola Field in downtown Buffalo was the setting for the festivities.
My colleague, Tony Caligiuri, from the Sandy Beach Show on WBEN AM & FM and the host of WGR's "Inside High School Sports," and I smacked our lips in delight when we were invited to be judges in the National Sauce-Off competition. Tony tasted dozens of wings with traditional flavors, while I opted for the Traditional Hot and Traditional X-Hot.
I've been accused of having an iron stomach and an asbestos tongue, both of which came in handy for this contest. While most of the hot and extra hot sauces were tame, my fellow heat-seeking judges and I encountered a pair of sauces that had us mopping our brows.
A few of the wing boxes were adorned with hot peppers just to reinforce the spicy and "heated" competition. We chomped on those peppers too, never fearing the heat.
While I wished that the sauces were consistently hot across the board, I do commend Quaker State & Lube and Fire on the Mountain for their X-hot versions, both winners in my book.
As for my fellow foodie Tony, he had the these thoughts: "Peanut butter and jelly does not belong on a wing and using too much BBQ rub is not good; it supposed to add flavor not drown it out. When making a traditional hot chicken wing, don't overdo it on the butter," Tony said. "The creative category should be eliminated so many of them were flat out gross. I did think it was a nice time and a nice event."
As another Wing Fest is put in the coop, kudos to Drew Cerza and all the staff for a fun event and for continuing to raise more than a quarter million dollars for local charities over the past decade.
Here is the list of winners from the 2013 Sauce Off edition: