This review is late. Exactly one year late. But better late than never.
In 2010 I was invited to come and judge the first Battle of the Wings challenge at Chestnut Residence at the University of Toronto. Run by executive Chef Jaco Lokker and Food & Beverage Manager Glenn Edwards, the competition was between Jaco and his three sous chef's, Eddie, Fitzroy and Oliva with each of them designing their own wings.
I was honoured to be a judge again and for all the promotion. My vote didn't count for as much this time, but really that's much more fair.
At 4:45pm the wings came out. Each student picked up a ballot, then plated up the wings. This went on until the wings ran out around 7:30. How many wings do they go through? 1000 pounds of wings. That's one pound for every student in the building.
I was fortunate to also get behind the scenes and see how the wings were made. It was fascinating to see how the food was prepared and the testing that went into the wings.
The ballots were secret, with students only knowing the number of the wings. I'm going to tell you though who's was who's.
Eddies wings (with help from Berto)
These wings were quite different from the ones I had sampled behind the scenes. They were breaded, deep fried, and had a sweet and spicy sauce.
Jaco's wings were similar to the ones he won with last year, but toned down a bit. Breaded and deep fried with a sweet and spicy sauce as well. I didn't get to try these earlier because he was keeping very secretive.
Fitzroy went with jerk-style wings again. These were marinaded, then baked.
Olivia tested out a number of recipes, and being the 'rookie', had a lot of pressure on her. She went with a breaded dry wing, that was seasoned with citrus and salt and had a creamy dressing put on the side.
My first test plate. It was so good. And I need to be clear, they were all very good. Choosing was tough.
I think these are Jaco's wings. Not only has it been a year, but Jaco's and Eddie's wings look very similar. If they were Jaco's, they were a bit sweet, and a bit spicy. They also had a nice crunch.
Fitzroy's jerk wings were tender (having marinaded at least over night, then roasted). They weren't too spicy heat wise, but they did have a lot of flavouring of spice.
Olivia's wings were definitely a unique way to go. Crispy and crunchy - they maintained this structure because there was no sauce. The seasoning was citrus/salty which made for a nice piece of chicken, but add the creamy, garlicky sauce on the side and you had a lot of different things going on different levels.
Eddies wings were also crispy. I was told the sauce went through several revisions, and one of the ingredients was 7-Up! It had a nice heat to it, but was also sweet. Although I have to admit I did like the tandoori style sauce that they started out with.
Of course you need to keep trying to make sure you're judging correctly.
No seriously. Because different batches came out slightly differently. This is both an art and a science.
Hundreds of votes were cast for their favourite. Everyone had their opinion heard. I also made my judgement, who happened to be in the majority.
So who won (Well besides all of us eating the wings)? Well, lets watch the video and see:
Congratulations Eddie (and Berto)! It was close, but I think Battle of the Wings 2011 was a complete success.