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World Championship Hot Wing Contest & Festival

Grey Pruitt

Grilled wings, smoked wings, fried wings …

… all kinds of hot wings will be taking center stage at Tiger Lane this weekend at The World Championship Hot Wing Contest & Festival.

The annual contest kicks off at 11 a.m. on Saturday Oct. 22 and runs all day, ending at 7 p.m.

The event has become a premier competition for hot wing aficionados.

I asked Paul Gagliano, who is the founder of this 20-year-old festival, to share what makes championship winning wings.

Paul says that preparing and cooking championship hot wings is an art … and a science.

First and foremost, a winning wing must be crispy on the outside, while maintaining a tender, juicy, meat easily pulled from the bone.

Next, the taste. The flavors of the sauce should cover the palate with heat, sweetness and acidity. Paul says that with the international teams now in the competition, they are also seeing exotic, savory fruit finishes.

What’s the best way to cook a chicken wing? Seems there is not just one best way.

Paul says that many successful teams are combining grilling, smoking, and frying - and not necessarily in that order - to get the mingling of flavors.

Finally, the presentation counts. Paul says a well-executed wing presentation should tug at the five senses and create a sense of professionalism with an aesthetic appeal.

Good news is that is you attend the festival, you can taste award-winning wings. Competitors offer samples to those making a donation to the Ronald McDonald House.

This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish. Bon Appetit!

For more information about the World Championship Hot Wing Contest and Festival, visit

Jennifer Chandler graduated at the top of her class from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She is a full-time mom to two daughters in Memphis, Tennessee, and is a freelance food writer, restaurant consultant, and author of four cookbooks The Southern Pantry Cookbook, Simply Salads, Simply Suppers, and Simply Grilling.