It’s Friday morning and I’m chatting to a colleague on our daily conference call, pleseantries have been exchanged and she ask’s what I’m doing this weekend. She was surprised, intrigued and a little bit envoius when I said that I was off to a Chicken Wing Festival. This is a response I have become acustom to over the past two years and usually the next question is… what is a Chicken Wing Festival and the obvious answer is it’s a delicious celebration of all things chicken wing-ey!
Check out WingFest’s website here: https://www.wingfest.co.uk/
Now in it’s (possible) third year #LDNWingFest 2019 took place at the London Stadium, home of West Ham United and situated in the beautiful Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Across two days, nearly 20’000 people would cross the bridges to enjoy delicious fried, grilled and barbequed Chicken wings in a festival environment sponsored by predominantly by Frank’s Red Hot sauce.
The concept of the ‘festival’ is that the countries finest purveyors of the chicken wing come together for one giant pop-up wingery. Each stall serves their own signature Buffalo wing and one Wild Wing. Each wing costs £1 each and is sold jointed so you either get a drum or a flat. This wonderful wing concept allows the patron to enjoy and sample many different styles of wing and discover new establishments to frequent after the festival. During the day the main stage hosts’s a number of events including various eating contests, both in volume and heat intensity, a number of musical sets from various DJ’s and bands and informative ‘seminars’ on pairing beers with food and wings.
The main reason anyone would go to a WingFest is for the Chicken Wings, so let’s get started…
Ghetto Grillz was the first on our Wing tour and a worthy first wing it was. The Buffalo was spiced and buttery topped with a hint of chive and served with a creamy Blue Cheese dip! Their Wild Wing didn’t disappoint either… crispy and drizzled in ranch with crispy onion and a delicious sweet sauce.
These two wonderful wings were from Yamyam Chicken and embodies everything there is to love about Korean food! The Buffalo Snow Chicken Wing was spicy, buttery and a perfect crispiness! The white sprinkling of ‘Snow’ is slightly salty and adds even more depth of flavour although my best Googling still has not yielded any answers as to what this might be. The Wild Wing was spicy and fierce but very enjoyable and was powdered with a green sprinkle.
Thunderbird Chicken is an institution and having won previous awards, it scooped this years Peoples Choice award for the best Wild Wing of the festival and it was clear to taste why. A caramel coated miso honey nut wing is just delicious and the masters at Thunderbird made a truly remarkable wing. Not forgetting that their Buffalo Wing was also top quality too. Their blue cheese dip was the best of the festival, by a country mile!
There were many other exemplary wings on offer and I intend to make my way round London enjoying and reliving the delicious wings of the day, but one “wing” stood out more than others. I didn’t get a chance to photograph it and I’m gutted as my words will simply not do it justice however my favourite “wing” came from SOKA (currently in residence at The Plough E9). In a world where we need to be concerned with what we consume and it’s impact on the environment, SOKA have created something that even the staunchest Wing Fanatic would enjoy…
The Cauliflower Thing
What SOKA have creatively done is used an everyday mundane vegetable and dredge it through their delicious Sweet Sticky Soy Chilli sauce, then deep fry the whole cauliflower clump to a tender wing like consistency. I never understood how cauliflower could be a replacement for steak, however as a wing alternative, incredible! Check out their Instagram post for their wings and I highly recommend a visit to The Plough Pub in E9 for wings and “things”!
If you don’t like chicken wings then you may want to stay away. While the festival has become 100% more vegan friendly (0 options in 2018 to 1 option in 2019) it’s still a very meaty affair. The free fairground rides and attractions were great to enjoy, the complimentary Axe throwing was extremely fun and the other stalls complimented the glutenous supply of wings. My only gripe was the expensive bars (£6 a pint, £7 for a shot of bourbon) and lack of adequate seating. Otherwise the festival was clucking perfect!
The header image was provided royalty free courtesy of Eiliv-Sonas AceronEiliv-Sonas Aceron