The 22nd annual Wing Ding – benefitting Easter Seals – was last night and I was fortunate enough to serve as a judge. Most of the 11 entries were at least good – only two got a “1” from me. In the end I went with entries 10, 7 and 2, in that order. These ended up being wings from Hemingway’s, D. Rowe’s and Buffalo Wild Wings. My rankings matched up pretty well with the final results:
- D. Rowe’s
- TGI Friday’s
Tasting notes and feedback from the winners after the jump.
The wings entered by D. Rowe’s stood out with their clean, smoky flavor, a nice contrast to some of the more chemically-induced smokiness I got from at least one other wing. They were also cooked just right – excellent.
I talked to David Rowe of D. Rowe’s today and asked him how they got started with those wings.
“We just kind of fell into it. We’ve got a big rotisserie smoker out back and tried the wings out at a few private parties a few years ago. What’s caught on is they’re different…a lot of people serve hot wings, but ours just have a dry rub and then we smoke them. We don’t fry ’em. They’re our most popular appetizer.”
He said D. Rowe’s uses regular old Sysco chicken for their wings.
Hemingways’ wings were a definite standout; I tasted coriander and there was a mysterious but altogether welcome crunch sprinkled on top. Very different and impressive for an outfit that doesn’t even have wings on the menu.
I also talked to Rocky Galloway, the chef at Hemingway’s, to get his thinking behind their Wing Ding entry.
“I’d done Korean barbeque-style lamb earlier in the week and liked those flavors. And I wanted to do something different,” he said, adding that sriracha, coriander, cardamom, cumin, honey, brown sugar and soy sauce also played a role in the wing’s preparation. The crunch?
“Crushed sriracha peas,” Rocky said, adding “I started messing with the wings at ten that morning.”
Any chance the wings are going to grace the menu at Hemingway’s?
“I have a feeling (Hemingway’s owner) Van is going to make me put them on the menu, yeah.”
For the record, Rocky’s wings come from US Foods.
My #3 – Buffalo Wild Wings – was probably a poor choice…I was rewarding the ballsiness of entering a blazing, blistering-hot wing in the contest. But their regular version wasn’t bad either. I didn’t catch which blind-tasted belonged to TGI Friday’s. Also, I did not call TGI Friday’s to ask about their wings, because, who really cares?