If wings and chili make your taste buds happy, the annual Chili and Wing Cookoff at the Waterfront at Silver Birches is where you need to be this Sunday. More than 20 chefs from local restaurants, schools and organizations will be vying for the title of Best Chili and Wings, and you get to taste and vote on the goods.
“The event is a lot of fun for the whole community. It's a true taste of the area's best chili and wings. Local businesses and individuals compete for top prizes from judges and people's choice. We have been hosting this event since 2002,” said Sarah O’Fee, director of marketing for Settlers Hospitality. “The event started as a fundraiser for our local chamber and thus stays true to those roots annually with the proceeds benefiting a different charity. This year the event will benefit the Victims Intervention Program in Honesdale.”
Participating restaurants include: Gersham’s Chophouse, The Boathouse, John’s Italian Restaurant, Wallenpaupack Brewing Company, The Dock at Wallenpaupack, and Reno’s Pizza 507. Also participating is Delaware Valley High School and Wallenpaupack Area High School, as well as a few home chefs.
Each contestant uses his or her own creativity to create a flavorful dish. Past wing contestants have come up with flavors such as sweet and spicy pineapple habanero, spicy Asian, kickin’ Bourbon barrel, garlic Parmesan caramel sesame and many others. Entries in the chili category have included bison bourbon, Texas bison, wild game, wagyu beef and chocolate barbecue brisket.
A panel of judges from Wallenpaupack Area High School will select winners, and everyone who samples the wings and chili will get to vote on the People’s Choice award.
“We ask the Wallenpaupack Area School teachers to come and judge each year. They’re quarantined in our top secret private dining room and vote on the best chili and wing,” said TJ Slain, director of Food and Beverage for The Dock on Wallenpaupack and the event coordinator for the day. “For me, a wing needs to be crispy on the outside, juicy chicken, with an interesting flavor. We’ve had a lot of fantastic wing sauce combos — spicy teriyaki, blueberry habanero, chili lime. I like the creative sauces. Chili is comfort food, so savory flavors, fresh ingredients, or different flavor combos usually do it for me. I’m looking forward to the fireball chili this year.”
This year’s event is expecting more than 600 people to attend, and will be benefiting the Victims Intervention Program of Wayne and Pike Counties. The organization provides vital assistance to victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse and other serious crimes. They offer confidential services such as emergency shelter and transportation, a 24-hour hot line, crisis counseling and more.
In addition to the tasty wings and chili, there will be a DJ from Bold Gold Media playing music, beer tasting on the deck at the Dock on Wallenpaupack and live music in the pub.
The competition begins at noon, and awards will be presented between 3:30 and 4 p.m.
“Fingers crossed for great weather,” Slain said. “Great March weather is perfect chili weather.”