Dig Baton Rouge

Just Wing It

By Josh Howard

This weekend, it doesn’t matter if the egg came before the chicken or why the chicken crossed the road. All that matters will be the mass annihilation of chicken wings.

On April 26 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the inaugural Louisiana Wing-a-thon, held at the Baton Rouge River Center, will feature a buffet from 16 area restaurants competing to win the stomachs of judges and participants, in a delicious poultry competition. Right behind a date with Kate Upton, this is the ultimate dream come true for nearly every guy in America, and a beautiful reward for those who abstained from meat during Lent.

The restaurants participating in the competition include national chains such as Hooters and Buffalo Wild Wings, obvious choices like Wings of Glory, and unexpected establishments such as Stroube’s and the Londoner.

Kitchen manager and head chef of The Londoner David Montgomery has been feverishly preparing since he signed up for the competition in March. Even though fish and chips and the Tower of London burger are his restaurant’s top sellers, Montgomery and The Londoner are ready for the weekend.

“It’s a great bar food, which is what we are,” Montgomery said. “Plus, I’m excited I get to think outside of the box, to see what comes up and to see how people like it.”

Montgomery has not solidified his options, yet he has an uncharacteristic idea of what you can expect from the Eurocentric restaurant. “We will have a Cajun-Asian fusion and one of our sauces will be a roasted garlic, sweet and sour sauce,” he said.

While The Londoner is planning a reprisal of the British invasion, it should expect serious competition from a local barbecue joint that’s been around the block over 20 years.

TJ Ribs is regionally renown for its ribs and fixings, but if you ask many around town, its wings are one of the restaurant’s true gems.

“We have a lot of street cred for our wings and part of that has to do with us having two locations on Acadian and Siegen,” general manager Todd McKearn said.

Chicken wings are typically served up fried and tossed in a sauce so hot your taste buds are left numb. However, participants are faced with a huge caveat. Frying will not be allowed inside of the River Center for the event. The stipulation could prove troublesome for a few of the contestants, but McKearn and TJ Ribs will not lose any sleep over it. Its standard wings are not fried, but rather smoked, a method not used by many.

“Our wings have three layers of flavor. We put our rub on them, then we smoke them and then we put on our wing sauce,” McKearn added. The layering is what he believes will prove them victorious at the Wing-a-thon.

Pluckers Wing Bar, a staple in the wing community, rewards customers who compete in its daily “Fire in the Hole” challenge. Pluckers contestants are tasked with eating 25 of the hottest chicken wings around town without melting, in one seating. Those who succeed at the challenge receive a t-shirt and a saucy picture on Pluckers’ infamous “Wall of Flame.”

“We always ask them [customers] ‘Are you sure you want these because they are hot?’ and they always start out saying yes, but reaching for water after the third wing,” Drew Galloway, general manager of the Nicholson location, said.

With 20 sauces to choose from and two area locations, it might be difficult for the eatery to choose a flavor for this category, however Galloway plans for Pluckers to throw down in the “Most Unique” category with its garlic parmesan sauce.

Even though there will be 15 other competitors, Pluckers does not bat an eye at the competition. “We pride ourselves on having the best wings in the area,” Galloway said. “However, there are a hundred of other great restaurants in Baton Rouge because cooking wings is something fairly simple to do. It’s about perfecting it.”

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