This weekend we hit the second annual Best Wings in Brooklyn at Greenpoint’s Red Star bar contest with Edible Brooklyn, hanging out at the judges’ table to watch them break down sauciness, savoriness, succulence and sizeability after tasting the chicken from a dozen contestants. We know what you’re thinking: Yet another cooking competition? But this one felt different for four reasons. 1) Instead of a lineup of hobbyist home cooks or professional chefs with multiple sous chefs, these competitors were all regular Brooklyn bars — a local, in other words — who specialize in wings, and many of the attendees, who waited for up to an hour in a block-long line and remained happy the entire time were their regulars out to show their support. (Overheard: “Yes, you can have sweet and hot at the same time. C’mon, don’t give me that look like it’s impossible.”)
2) Instead of representing only hipper neighborhoods like Williamsburg or Park Slope, these wings were representin’ borough-wide, with competitors from Bay Ridge, Sheepshead Bay, Downtown Brooklyn, Red Hook, Crown Heights, Bushwick, Greenpoint and Park Slope, for starters. The winners were Life Cafe in Bushwick, whose wings were sweet and tangy and also had a touch of smoke; followed by Bonnie’s Grill in Park Slope, whose classic Buffalo-style vinegary tang was my own personal favorite; and then Super Wings in Crown Heights, last year’s winner, whose Caribbean-flavored wings were kicked with ginger and two sauces, one sweet and one creamy.
3) There was a rumor, which turned out to be unfounded, that Jay-Z might appear, perhaps to support Buffalo Boss, the organic wing operation new to Fulton Street in downtown Brooklyn that he’s an investor in, according to the Post in a story called “Empire wing of mind.”
4) The fact that it was a true Brooklyn competition — despite that its subject of study is from Buffalo, not Brooklyn — made for the fourth point of differentiation, which is that borough President Marty Markowitz was on hand to declare the day calorie-free. Though he did seem to suggest that a better topic — at least from his point of view — might have been cheesecake.