Not long ago I received a very interesting e-mail/invite:
"Hi there,What do seedless watermelon and piggies in a blanket have in common? They were both devised by world-renowned food innovator Terry Peters. Well, Terry is at it again, but this time Boston Pizza has enlisted him to help create a new item for its menu, so prepare your taste buds for a true flavour feast!As a passionate wing lover, I wanted to reach out to you about an exclusive invite to try Boston Pizza’s latest food innovation. Boston Pizza is unveiling the new food item and serving up an all access tasting at the downtown Front and John Street location next Wednesday April 4th and they want YOU to be one of the first in Canada to try it!WHO: Boston Pizza
WHAT: Exclusive tasting preview of their secret new menu item
WHEN: Wednesday, April 4th at 6:30 p.m.; special screening at 7:00 p.m.WHERE: Boston Pizza at Front and John Street"
I was intrigued, flattered and very excited. Secret new menu item? Special Screening? Me? How could I not go?
I asked my staff if anyone wanted to go, and Kathy was available to go. We trekked on down to the Front & John Boston Pizza, which I didn't even know existed. It was quite nice inside, and when we arrived the young host took us on a tour upstairs. The feel of the place was more upscale crowd than the usual family oriented BP's.
We were led back downstairs, through the bar area to a private dining room, which had these huge glass doors and a big long table with lots of swag.
I met Kate from High Road Communications who sent me the initial invite (face covered in this photo), and Brenda the regional marketing manager for BP (pinky/peach blouse), Perry the director of communications for BP (standing in the suit). I don't know how Joe (blue hoodie) was connected to BP. The other guests included Emily (I think from Bloorp) and Steve Tilley (from the Toronto Sun) and The Food Fella (not in the pic).
We were handed envelopes that were marked "TOP SECRET," which I won't lie was a little fun. OK a lot fun. And I'm about to reveal these secrets to you now. That's right, you lucky readers you, you are about to become the first (after our little group) to hear about some new things at BP (cue James Bond music). The official campaign hasn't started yet even amongst BP staff.
Inside my folder were several documents and a gift card (awesome). There was a letter from Terry Peters, the new mascot for BP:
Terry Peters. He's described at 1/3 Tony Stark, 1/3 Steve Jobs, 1/3 Richard Branson. We watched a TV commercial starring Terry that only a handfull of people have watched. I'll have more on him in and the commercial on here in another post, but basically, he's invented BP's ALL MEAT WINGS.
Yes, their newest release is
New Rubs & Sauces
- Spicy Asian Sauce
- 40 Creek Whiskey Sauce
- Classic NY Buffalo Sauce
- Cinnamon Maple Sauce
- Mediterannean Dry Rub
- BBQ Ranch Dry Rub
- Ragin' Cajun Dry Rub
The room had a lot of the marketing material for the launch. For example, above we have one of those triangle shaped table top ads for beer and boneless wings.
One of the sides had more info on Terry Peters. Who is on Twitter too. And Facebook.
There were also some new items on the menu. But we stuck to the wings.
Actually we did have an order of Cactus Cut Potatoes, which were good. Like a thick potato chip that had a bit of a bite to it. And a tasty dip.
It wasn't long before our friendly server Lauren and the product specialist Ola were bringing out our first samples. They came in three waves, the first having 3 'All Meat Wings' (AMW) and 2 classic style wings. Above you can see the traditional wing on top and the boneless wing below. It even looks like a flattie.
The chicken is an actual piece of breast meat that is breaded and fried, then tossed in sauce or rub. I asked how the chicken is prepared (if there was a big cutter mold) but I didn't think there was because they were not uniform pieces. They weren't sure, but explained that it wasn't ground chicken product molded. Each piece was a crispy from the breading, but very meaty and very tender.
Part of their concept targets people on their lunch break who won't order wings because they might get messy for work, or those who don't like gnawing off the bone and want to use a knife and fork. But you can totally still eat these with your hands.
We also sampled some traditional wings (some baked, some fried) in some new sauces too. It was quite the feast.
Rajun' Cajun Dry Rub All Meat Wings
Right off the bat - it was hard to visually keep track of the All Meat Wings - despite the different rubs, they all looked identical.
The flavour reminded me of All Dressed potato chips - a little spice, a little tang. It was good, but I think the rub could have been more liberally applied - I would have liked it stronger.
Mediterranean Dry Rub All Meat Wings:
The dry rubs have like a potato chip flavour to them. This was like a Greek seasoning.
It was also not as bold a seasoning as I would have liked. But I really enjoyed the texture of the breading and the breast meat that really shone through.
BBQ Ranch Dry Rub All Meat Wings:
A little bit BBQ chip, a little bit Ranch. It's very simple.
OK, this All Meat Wing looks a little lick a chicken nugget. Let's be honest, it is a chicken nugget - but premium nugget for sure.
Honey Garlic Oven Baked Wings:
We had some traditional wings too. As you know, I'm not an HG fan - but lots of you are. So I had one. Just for you. Hope your happy. I didn't hate these, the baking gave a bit of a char flavour.
Classic NY Buffalo Baked Chicken Wings:
OK, for these to be really classic Buffalo, they should have been deep fried . . . but over looking that, they tasted pretty good. They normally have hot, medium etc from Frank`s sauce, but these definitively have that buttery tasted to them. Because these were baked, they too had a char taste that was a nice touch.
Spicy Asian Sauce Breaded Deep Fried Wings:
This was the classic yin-yang balance of sweet and spicy. Now they already have a spicy Thai sauce on their menu, so I would be curious to try the two to compare.
This sauce worked very well with the breaded fried wings, but I think it would go well with the All Meat too.
The first round was a great set up, and I was satisfied at this point. It was hard not to clean the plates completely, but I knew more were coming and I didn't want to over-do it. We talked about all things wings, food and blogs. Soon, it was time for Round 2.
Classic NY Buffalo Sauce on AMW:
So I think this sauce was made for these chicken bites. The sauce was thick and absorbed into the tenders. It's not spicy, but it is very rich.
I don't think I captured the size of the AMW. These were a big chunk of meat.
OK so I am certain I heard Ola say these were 40 Creek Whiskey wings - but on the menu it just lists it as Whiskey.
If you've had a 40 Creek Whiskey BBQ - you know what this tastes like - a little sweet, but a little sour from the Whiskey. I'm not crazy about whiskey BBQ sauces, but if you are, you will like this.
Salt & Pepper Fried Wings:
These snuck into the new tastes parade - they have already been on the menu. That doesn't mean they weren't welcome.
Deep fried and tossed in (sea?) salt and pepper. No sauce. These were good. A little salty (I know, they should be). It makes for a nice contrast to the saucy wings.
Cinnamon Maple Sauce on AMW:
OK, I actually had these in a traditional bone-in wing too. And I know what your thinking because I was thinking it too. It sounded sickly sweet and I don't like a lot of cinnamon so these had a lot of potential to be not up my alley. But I was wrong. They BP's said this was like a 'dessert wing' and that was the perfect description. They were sweet, but just enough and the cinnamon supported, rather than trumping the maple. It gave a warm feeling after eating and if I was eating several orders of wings, these would be a nice plate to end the meal - bone-in or out.
We were pretty stuffed at this point (at least I was), but we still were not done. They were saving the 'best' for last. But it was a mystery. What would Round 3 be?
Ola brought out two amazing platters and I was caught off guard by what I was seeing . . .
Nacho Wings. Yes. Nacho wings. This is a starter sized platter ($12.49) that was a layer of nachos, about 8 All Meat Wings, and the fixin's.
This was quite an amazing little product. I looked at it and thought it was colourful and beautiful, but the idea made me hesitate. While I took pictures, the others dug in, discussing how you have to get a good chip with all the toppings and a AMW. And you have to get messy.
After hearing the sounds of people enjoying them, I dug in too and I really liked it. It may seem like a strange concept, but it really works. If I hadn't eaten so much before I would have polished this sucker off on my own. As for the AMW, you can get them sauced however you like, but ours came with medium sauce (good choice). The Santa Fe Ranch was really what topped it off - it's creamy and rich and so good.
My favourite All Meat Wing was also with the new Classic NY Buffalo Wing Sauce. But I also liked the Spicy Asian. And it was really different, but the Cinnamon Maple was just unique. The Nacho Wings just tipped the scale into complete awesome. My only constructive criticism is that the dry rub on the AMW's needs to be bolder and they could use a dipping sauce (but if they come sauced, you are golden). I personally am a bone-in wing guy, but if that's not your thing, All Meat Wings will be up your alley.
This was an awesome night. The staff at BP made us feel like mini-celebrities and treated us to some behind the scene events, some great food, and a great time. I really enjoyed just chatting it up, learning about the process and the launch. And it turned out that Perry and his buddy started a website over 10 years ago called torontochickenwings.com (now defunct) that was an inspiration for this blog when I first moved to Toronto.
Thanks for the free food and drink, the sneak peek, and for all the hospitality! I love anything wing related and I think the All Meat Wings and the new sauces and rubs will go over well. And I'm excited to hear more about Terry Peters - he sounds like quite a character.
Boston Pizza's Countdown
BP Front and John
See a few extra photos over at The Wing Bucket (yes it still exists)