The Winner of The Best Wings Cook-Off at Wingtoberfest 2013 Is ...
The fryers were going all evening as chefs cooked their wings to a crisp golden brown.
Photos by Francisco Montes
Wingtoberfest went down Wednesday night at Social Junkie, and much fun and many wings were had by all.
It was a difficult competition this year, with 2012's champ, Little Bitty Burger Barn competing against other Houston bigwigs Goro & Gun, Boheme, Underbelly and Uchi. As is the tradition, each different type of wing was paired with a Saint Arnold beer for the full beer/wing effect that makes Wingtoberfest the best beer festival in October.
Bacon and wings? What could be better?!
Little Bitty Burger Barn, helmed by the burger-hatted Jay Hengtgen, went all out this year, serving fried, bacon-wrapped jerk chicken wings with two different types of sauces. The meaty wing was paired with Saint Arnold Endeavor, a citrusy double IPA.
Chef Jordan Economy adds just a touch of hot sauce to Boheme's wing.
Boheme went for a hot wing that wasn't overpoweringly hot, thanks to the use of mala sauce, which numbs the mouth slightly. To counter the numbing, the wing was paired with some Gorgonzola mayo and Saint Arnold's super hoppy Elissa IPA.
Goro & Gun's wings were HOT! And if there had been a best table-decoration competition, they would certainly have won.
Goro & Gun had the spiciest wing of the night, which they were calling Astroturf in support of Prop. 2, the Dome and astroturf in general. It was a mighty hot fried wing covered in a bright-green jalapeño sauce and a bit of cotija cheese. We paired it with Saint Arnold Icon Gold, 'cause why not?
Uchi's wings were just like all Uchi food -- unique, refreshing and carefully executed.
Uchi had a complete assembly line going on for their wings, which were crunchy and topped with crispy garlic and a bit of sliced cucumber and cilantro. The most refreshing wing of the evening was paired with crisp, slightly malty Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower.
Why wings aren't always served with queso is now a mystery to me.
Finally, Underbelly chefs prepared chips and queso wings, which involved making their own tortillas, frying them, crumbling them, breading the wings in the crumbled chips, frying that, and then dousing the whole thing in creamy queso. That wing was paired with the light-bodied, malty Santo.
And the winner was...
Underbelly, with nearly twice as many votes as the runner-up! It was a clear win for the guys who turned Tex-Mex food into chicken wings.
The masterminds behind the Underbelly wings celebrating their win.
Chef Lyle Bento said he got the idea when he saw "queso and tortilla wings" on a menu about three years ago and became really excited at the idea of chicken wings with queso. When the dish arrived at his table, though, he discovered that not only was there no chicken, but the "wings" referred to tortillas cut in half and arranged around the cup of queso to look like wings. Ever since then, Bento has been determined to create the dish that he originally thought he was ordering. Though you probably won't be able to find the wings on Underbelly's menu any time soon, we imagine they might be popping up somewhere around town in the future.
Little Bitty Burger Barn has said their bacon-wrapped jerk wings will be added to the menu, though, so if you missed Wingtoberfest, you can always stop by the Barn for a little taste of it.
Thanks to Saint Arnold for all the beer, the chefs for all the wings, and everyone who came out and made the celebration so exciting.
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