The Great Chicken Wing Hunt
by M. Faust
I don’t think I’m going very far out on a limb when I say that this is the only movie you will ever see in which someone gets off a bus in downtown Buffalo and says to his companions, “We’re in Mecca!”
That said, I have to tell you that while it is unambiguously worshipful of our culinary claim to fame, The Great Chicken Wing Hunt is less impressed about the hometown of that spicy treat. This chronicle of a quest to find the perfect Buffalo wing finds a winner, but it’s not in Buffalo. It’s not even in Western New York. (Lest all you East Aurorans get your hopes up for the Bar Bill, which is seen herein, along with La Nova, Duff’s, and of course the Anchor Bar.)
This funky little documentary, presented in conjunction with the National Buffalo Wing Festival at Coca-Cola Field this weekend, is the product of a lifelong obsession for Matt Reynolds, who grew up outside of Rochester but left for a career in international journalism based in the Eastern European city of Bratislava. While there, he cooked Buffalo wings for his Slovakian hosts and, in the words of his girlfriend, generally became a pest on the subject.
Obsessed with the notion that there exists somewhere not merely the best but the perfect Buffalo wing, he organizes a busload of fellow aficionados on a quest to find it. This is a little easier than it sounds, given that a) they use a score card developed by Michigan University statisticians to keep the ratings as scientific as possible, and b) they limit the tour to New York State. Chauvinism it may be, but does anyone really believe the perfect Buffalo wing might be found in Sarasota or Butte?
The tour provides plenty of discussion as to what makes the perfect Buffalo wing. (Base requirements: It must be a deep-fried, unbreaded wing coated in a mixture of pepper vinegar sauce and butter.) Reynolds’s fellow explorers are as entertaining as only the obsessed it pursuit of their grail can be. Even more fun is watching the reactions of his film crew, imported from Slovakia. “I felt like I was on a tour of a subculture of cretins,” says one before realizing that the film’s true goal was a search for national identity, and that wings are to Americans as “sheep cheese dumplings are to Slovakia.”
Or, as an opening title notes, “What is patriotism but love of the food you ate as a child?”
The Great Chicken Wing Hunt will play for one week at the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center beginning this Friday August 30. Filmmaker Matt Reynolds will be present for Q&As Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 1:30pm.
Watch the trailer for The Great Chicken Wing Hunt
Issue Navigation> Issue Index > v12n35 (Week of Thursday, August 29) > Film Reviews > The Great Chicken Wing Hunt
This Week's Issue • Artvoice Daily • Artvoice TV • Events Calendar • Classifieds