After judging I decided to go chat with the vendors. I had some good wings and wanted to thank them for the wings.
First up I went to Sali's. I told them I had been one of the judges and while they didn't win, they produced some fine chicken wings. I asked if Sali's was a restaurant or a just the traveling vendor, and was informed they used to be an establishment but were now doing the trailer thing.
I stopped by Ring-A-Wing, who won last year's Ribfest wing competition. They were not happy about losing and didn't understand how they lost. I said that the voting was very close and that they had an excellent product. I wish Ring-A-Wing was in T.O. for sure.
The winner of WingFest 2011 was Hank Daddy's BBQ from Maple Ontario. Owner Frank Caputo came up to me at the judges table and said something to the effect of "I hear you like your wings hot . . . come see me later because I have something special". Sounds good to me!
I came over to talk to him and he told me about his wings, and that while he couldn't do heat competitions at this festival, he normally has a "Fire Wing Challenge" where a challenger eats 15 wings in 15 minutes with no drinks or wipes, and if they survive, get a picture, t-shirt, name on wall of flame and bragging rights. Frank told me he didn't have his waivre or anything here with him, but if I wanted to try a few of the wings, he'd whip up a batch. Not one to say no to free wings or a heat challenge, I was honoured and excited.
The wings came out and looked fantastic. I immediately recognized them from the competition, but it was clear that these wings were much hotter. I asked how he made his unique wings, and he told me they were rubbed and then smoked for several hours. Then they are tossed in the deep fryer and then sauced. This was a great idea because while I like the flavour of smoked wings, they are always soft and the texture is not my fave. But this method allows for levels of flavour and a crispy skin. Brilliant.
Immediately I could smell the heat in the wings. I'm pretty sure some level of spice extract is used. I was given some gloves to wear, which I normally wouldn't bother with, but considering I was eating these standing up with only port-a-washes nearby, I figured I should. I also got nervous about eating something super hot out like I was, but I dove in.
These wings were awesome. First off, they had a good burn. I mean these were a level above suicide for sure. My stomach grumbled from the heat, and my lips were on fire. But despite that there was still so much flavour. The smokey wings, the sweet but savoury sauce. Saucy, crispy - these wings had so much going for them.
The wings were great, and in the future if I get the chance I am totally doing the Fire Wing Challenge. A great product and I really think this is how smoked wings should be done.