I got a chance to judge this years competition, and I’m still recovering.
We’ve been doing this foodie thing for a little over a year now…dozens of festivals, tastings, restaurant openings, events, brunches and dinners have finally led up to this…we got asked to be the celebrity judges for this years Philadelphia Wing Festivals wing competition. First and foremost shoutout to everyone over at Taste of Your Town and my main contact over there Robert Brazas for throwing some of the best events in Philly the past couple of years, always a great time.
I actually didn’t get the chance to attend last years Wing Festival but this year they tripled their attendance at 2300 Arena and the line was wrapped around the building by 11:00….the doors didn’t open until noon. I was greeted at the front door by my man Jon and escorted upstairs to the private judges room. Listen…if you’re lucky enough to get the chance to judge one of these absolutely jump at the chance. Me, Just Grubbin co-founder Jamiel Seebadri, Dennis Carradin of the Traumas Survivor Foundation and the wing judging Facebook contest winner Chef Rasheen Anderson got the full VIP treatment.
JGTV: 2018 Philadelphia Wing Festival Recap
So after we got settled in and got the Miller Lites flowing Rob informs us that we are going to try 25 wings in total from 18 different vendors, broken down into 4 different categories. Mild, BBQ, Hot and Unique. The winner of each category:
Mild – PJ Whelihans
BBQ – Baby Blues BBQ
Hot – Crystal’s Comfort Food
Unique – Crystal’s Comfort Food
Crystals Comfort Food won the trophy for best overall wing and their “Sweet Potato” wing that they entered in the unique category was a major reason why. It was so good that every judge basically went silent and started making those “mmmm mmmm” noises when biting into it while smiling. Big Al (he kicked it with us for a little before he had to leave because of family obligations) blurted out “OH DAMN THATS BROWN SUGAR YO!”….yea they changed the game with that one, so shoutout to Crystals and expect a visit from the JG group sooner than later.
Das Good “Mild” Wing
So here’s where I explain why I’m still recovering almost a month Later. 25 wings are an appetizer to a true wing fanatic and for a couple of members of the JG team (Walker & Leer can prob eat 100 each and have room for a cheesesteak after) but for me i’m usually good with a smooth 10 or so. So I made sure I came extra hungry so I could properly judge all 25 wings. Everything started of great, phenomenal even…mild was the first category we judged and the second wing from that category was from our good friends over at Das Good (shoutout to Savoul and Anh). I love the food from Das Good so I immediately took a huge bite from this wing and folks talk about a HUGE mistake. This wing was so hot that we all thought it was a mistake that it was in the mild category. I wish someone captured the look of exasperation on all of our faces as we swallowed this Lucifer wing. We all yelled out “DAMN” and sprinted to whatever beverage we could find and chug. It was so hot that I didn’t stop sweating until the judging was over…like a hour later.
I made sure to go yell at Savoul and Anh for that one, seriously though their great people and the food is fantastic. If you order their “mild” wings just make sure you come prepared because it’s something serious to say the least.
Between the electric crowd, the dope venue, spectacular vendors, all the different food competitions (shoutout to the Ranch Chugging Champion, Hot Wing eating champion and the Bucket of fries champion), and judging the contest this was easily one of my favorite events of 2018. I can’t wait to see what else Taste of Your Town has in store for the food festival game and next time I’m asked to judge a wing contest i’m going to make sure to avoid the heat until the later rounds so I’m not looking like I just did an hour and half workout on the presenters stage.
If you enjoyed this, check out more posts from the Just Grubbin team here! Also make sure to listen to The Just Grubbin podcast to hear us go into further detail about this and to hear all of our random irreverent takes on food, drink and whatever else.