Shannon Donadio turned to her restaurant’s bar menu for inspiration at the second annual Long Island Wing Fest.
The event, held Sunday at the Nutty Irishman of Bay Shore, pitted wings from 12 different local restaurants against one another for trophies and bragging rights.
“We have this shot called Cinnamon Toast Crunch,” said Donadio, who is the kitchen manager for The Nutty Irishman. “It’s RumChata and Fireball whiskey.”
Add some honey and cinnamon to the mix, and Donadio had a recipe for a crowd-pleasing wing that generated buzz at Sunday’s wing competition, which had about 500 attendees and judges that included Rob Burmeister, from Season 1 of The Food Network’s “Chopped,” and Barret Beyer from Season 11 of “Hell’s Kitchen.”
“It shows people’s creativity and actually helps me be more creative,” Beyer said of the contest. “I’m gonna go home and make a Reese’s Cocoa Puff wing now.”
Although Beyer and Burmeister enjoyed Donadio’s inventive wings, the judges chose a more traditional wing as the overall winner.
The top honor went to DirtyBurger of Plainview, which also won the Nassau County title and the best “Traditional Buffalo” award.
DirtyBurger’s William Gauger brought two flavors of wings to the contest — the restaurant’s signature Dirty BBQ sauce and a buffalo sauce he concocted the day before the competition “on a whim.”
“It starts really mild on the tongue and then, gives you the heat of the cayenne and red pepper in the back of your throat,” he said. “It’s a mild sauce, but after 12 wings your mouth will burn.”
Gauger said he will add it to the restaurant’s menu soon.
Changing Times American Sports Bar and Grille in Bay Shore took home the Suffolk County title and “Best Unique Sauce.” The “Most Creative BBQ” award went to Patchogue’s Wicked Wings Clam Bar for its chocolate raspberry wings.
Wicked Wings’ Kim Murray said the recipe includes shaved chocolate and fresh raspberries picked from Long Island’s East End. It’s already a popular item, especially among female customers at the restaurant, she said. The contest could lead to more sales, Murray said.
“A lot of people here live in the town where our restaurant is and didn’t even know we existed until today,” she said.
Daniel Wiseman created Long Island Wing Fest to promote local businesses, including his own, Even Flow Bar & Grill in Bay Shore.
Wiseman said he also uses the contest as practice for the National Buffalo Wing Festival he and his staff will compete in this Labor Day weekend in Buffalo.
His habanero bourbon wing sauce took second place for “Creative BBQ” at last year’s national competition, and on Sunday, attendees voted it the “Festival Favorite.”
“Wings will never die,” Wiseman said. “They’ve been around forever and now they’re getting really creative.”