Wednesday, 13 July 2011

LIFF Chicken Wing Competition: WingFest 2011

A few months ago I received a phone call from Cecil Hillier of Family Shows Canada. They were talking about while the past two years the Ribfest has had a wing competition, they were thinking of experiment and see about having a wing competition at the London International Food Festival. Since I think any showcase of wings is a good idea, I said sounded good and I was happy to judge. Shortly after, WingFest was born. (just to clarify, I had no hand what so ever in the creation of WingFest, I just thought the concept was great!).

WingFest 2011 was a competition among three vendors battling for the title of Best Wings. Simple, but such an honour.

The judging took place on the Sunday at 3pm. I had been asked to be there at 2pm and I was excited to see a big table set up for the judges.

Since this was a test run for the festival, I was told it wasn't going to be as large in scale as Ribfest, and that there would only be two 'celebrity' judges; myself, and Bill Paul, London's Town Crier and Laff Gaff entertainer. Bill and I got to talking and it was great just chatting it up with him.

The other 9 judges were to be selected from the audience. They simply had to fill out a ballot, and their names were drawn out of the pile. A lot of people submitted ballots, with at least two names being drawn but not available so we kept calling names until 9 people were up at the front.

Above is the 2011 WingFest Judges

As judges we filled out some paperwork . . .

And there was a scoring card. The Hilliers asked me to go over the score sheet with the judges and explain to them what to look for when judging wings. Each vendor was serving up two types of wings: a 'regular' wing and a 'spicy' wing. There were three main components for the judgement: Taste, Texture and Tenderness each out of 10. Several people had questions about how to judge and I had a lot of fun being the expert!

The Judges in all their glory!

Above were the three vendors: Sal's, Hank Daddy BBQ and Ring-A-Wing. They were all set up sepperately from the LIFF in 'Winger's Row'. A beautiful sight to see at a festival.

After going over the rules, some opening statements and being given refreshments (Beer[Mill Street], Water, pop, whatever we wanted), it wasn't long before they were bringing out the wings to be judged. Here are the notes I took:


#1 - A little crispy, very sauce. Sweet but slightly spicy with pepper and  flakes visible in the sauce. Good wing, good start.

#2 -  Red glaze. Hint of BBQ smoke - is there an Asian influence? reminds me of a Peking Duck. Sticky, slight crisp skin. Very tasty - something different and I like it.

#3 - Very crispy, dusted in flour skin - slight spice, but very slight sweetness. Classic hot sauce and almost Buffalo sauce-like. Also good.


#4 - Breaded in flour - very crispy. Not wet (sauce absorbed into breading). Traditional 'hot wing' : was a medium heat level for me but I think others are finding it hot enough. Good solid hot wing.

#5 - BBQ spicy wing. Must be a follow up to wing #2. There is a slow burn, but its building into a good heat. Warms the whole mouth. I think an extract is used to boost heat. Heat and flavour here.

#6 - Breaded and deep fried and the sauce is thick. Just like #1 except more heat. I like the sauce and I like the wing.

I have to say I was impressed with all the wings. The competitors brought their A-games and scoring was difficult. In fact in the end all the scores were not far off from each other. I was glad that each competitor had two different categories to compete in so that they could show off their talents. No matter who won, I was going to be happy, because these were some good wings.

Michael, Hillary, Bill the Town Crier and myself post judging.

And the winner was . . . 

Hank Daddy's BBQ!

Like I said, it was very close and I thought the whole event went really well. It was an honour to be a judge and to get a lot of attention from the festival.

To learn about some post wing wingery, see the Vendor's post next.


Randy in China said...

Looks like so much fun!

Lord of the Wings said...

@Randy in China - it was a blast!

Teena in Toronto said...

Lucky you! They look freakin' amazing!