In photos: Asheville Wing Wars

WINGING IT: Jacob Ballard was among attendees at Sunday's sold-out fourth annual Asheville Wing War. Photo by Cindy Kunst

Before the doors even opened for the fourth annual Asheville Wing Wars, the line in front of New Mountain wound its way down the street, almost all the way to Patton Avenue. The sold-out event is one of many from Kelly Denson’s wildly successful Asheville Food Fights, a subdivision of her Lush Life Productions, the organization behind the consistently and professionally produced Music Video Asheville and other notable area events.

In typical Lush Life style, the event wasn’t just about the food. The Mike Rhodes Fellowship — Mike Rhodes, Shane Pruitt, Jay Sanders and Ryan Burns — took the stage blasting out several hours of jam-band bedlam and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. kept everyone’s Solo cups full of all-you-can-drink beer, a perk of the ticket cost. Proceeds from the event went to support MANNA FoodBank.

Nearly 20 restaurants set up their battle stations outside, some around big grills and smokers, while their servers dished out samples from serving stations inside the venue. The competition was divided into two types of judging — a People’s Choice Award for both traditional and specialty wings, as well as awards in traditional and specialty categories from a panel of judges consisting of myself, Mackensy Lunsford of Asheville Citizen-Times, Stu Helm of Ashvegas, 105.9 the Mountain’s Shawn Quinn and Duane Fernandes, chef of Isa’s Bistro. The crowds were able to see the brands they were tasting, but the judges were required to taste everything blind from a small table isolated up in the corner of the balcony.

When the smoke cleared, the fryers stopped bubbling, and the masses had spoken: Moe’s Original BBQ walked away with its third People’s Choice Award in the traditional category. Seven Sows‘ massive and exotic fish sauce wings took home the popular vote in the specialty category. A common complaint among attendees seemed to be that many of the restaurants showed up unprepared, running out of wings before many ticket holders even got their fingers sticky.

Up in the judges booth, it was a completely different scene. With everything coming out blind, we were a little shocked at the lack of classic flavors in the Traditional category. Many of the wings seemed to be grilled rather than fried, and only a couple of the offerings had seasonings that even resembled the classic Buffalo sauce. In the end, our consensus found Foggy Mountain Brew Pub to have the best traditional wings, followed by Scully’s Bar and Grille and Mojo Kitchen.

As for the specialty wings, we mostly found sweet, sugary, syrupy, weak sauce. In fact, one judge simply wrote, “No,” in lieu of a score for three different offerings. Another note read, “Were these boiled?” and another said simply, “I spit it out.” The overall trend in the genre revolving around each chef’s creative whims seemed to be Asian sauces that erred on the side of overly sweet. After 12 specialty samples, it became hard to see past the impending diabetic coma, but some of the entries were outstanding. Our grand prize went to King James Public House’s fantastic duck wings, followed by Chestnut, and Scully’s.

Story by Jonathan Ammons

Photos by Cindy Kunst



Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.