Delicious wings and craft beer are a winning combination, and that’s exactly what The New York Best Wings Festival delivered on Sunday, June 7th at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury. Over 6,000 wing lovers gathered on Long Island to sample some of the best wings that New York has to offer as twenty area restaurants competed for the championship title. With a week full of rainstorms and unseasonably cold weather leading up to this event, it was a relief to see that the sun was shining down and a beautiful day of wings and beer awaited us.
The festival opened with the sounds of live music as guests lined up at the tents to sample wings. VIP ticket holders also received a commemorative cup for all-day craft beer tastings, which was the perfect complement to the unique and flavorful wings offered. There was even a section for kids filled with face painting and bounce houses, as well as other vendors including hot sauce manufacturers and food trucks. On top of that, Celebrity Chef Chris Santos attended the event as the Best Wings Ambassador and served up specialty wings using his new Rattler BBQ Sauce. This family-friendly event had something for everyone to enjoy, and that’s exactly what we intended to do as we made our way to the wings.
Seasoned wing judges, Brian Dempsey (Bring The Wing), Chef Plum (Winner of Guy’s Grocery Games), Adam Poch (Big Brother & Bacon Paradise), and Dave “Rev” Ciancio (NYC Wing-Off) joined together and set out on a mission trying every wing from each contestant in search of the best. And this turned out to be no easy task. With so many creative and tasty flavor combinations, including Cinnamon Toast and “Snowing” Cheese, the judges had a difficult time narrowing it down to their top picks for each category. Overall, they ate a total of 56 different wings, and that was just in the preliminary round alone.
Throughout the day, there were other wing-related contests such as the Lil Wings Challenge with celebrity kid chefs, College Wing Eating Competition, and the Melt Your Face hot wing challenge, but the main event was when all of the judges took the stage to settle once and for all who has the best wings in the area. In addition to the aforementioned judges, Derrick Prince (MasterChef), Matt Reynolds (director and star of The Great Chicken Wing Hunt), Ryan Hohman (“The Ultimate Wingman”), Christine Gerani (SpotOnMagazine), Chef Marc Anthony Bynum (Hush American Bistro), JP (WBAB), Robert Sinclair (AAA), and festival founders Matt Kourie and Robert Wittman (BestWingsLI.com) sampled wings from each of the finalists to decide the top three in the Traditional Buffalo and Unique Wings categories. After much deliberation, it was L.I. Pour House that took home the 1st place trophy for Best Traditional Buffalo Wings and Heartbreaking Dawns, with their West Coast Tomato Basil Wings, for Best Unique Wings.
As the festival came to a close, it was clear that everyone had a great time. There was a wide variety of wings and beer to please all palates as well as activities for all ages. The New York Best Wings Festival was a success, and we are happy to have been a part of it. After all, with this many delicious wings in one place, how could you go wrong?