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Winged Fixation: WOW Cafe Talks Super Bowl Food

Jul 17, 2014 - WOW Cafe

Louisianans are not shy about cooking for a big game, and on any given Saturday in Baton Rouge, one will see tailgate rigs bigger than most hunting camps. However, with the Saints out of the playoffs and the weather chilly, many New Orleanians are simply ordering out for today's show down. Wings are the most popular Super Bowl food in America, and NoDef got some pointers from Paul Ballard, founder and co-owner WOW Cafe: American Grill and Wingery.   
WOW is locally owned and started, but the company now boasts 70 locations. That’s a lot of wings daily, but Ballard notes that Super Bowl today is still by far their busiest, estimating that WOW will serve over 315,000 wings to hungry Louisianans today. “We live for Super Bowl,” he said.   

Ballard explains that to accomodate the rush, the company will have extra staff on hand, and perform “lots and lots of prep.” He adds that the key remains hard work, “We’re just always cooking wings, from open and then all day long.”

The owner noted the self-explanatory advantages of ordering in advance. Of course, the early tact raises the potential pitfall of soggy skin. This Wazu of Wings offered some tips on keeping advance orders crisp as well. “Preheat your oven to low. Wings in alluminum pans reheat in the oven well, just get a little bit of heat going. Some people like to order the sauce on the side. That way you can just keep them crispy, and can bathe them yourself when its time to serve them at the house.”  

As for those sauces that we like our wings coated in, Ballard said that the classics are still the most popular. He said that their four best-selling sauces are two varieties of Buffallo, the hot sauce and vinegar based standard, and two barbecues, a mesquite and a Kansas City. He was excited to note that WOW’s recent creation Paradise City, a Thai chili sauce, rounded out the top five. (After some prodding, Ballard conceded that Paradise City does offer a rock n’ roll flavor profile that would make Gn’R proud.)  

As far as condiments go, Ballard suggested that the eternal bleu cheese versus ranch debate is a regional matter. “New Orleans is becoming more of a ranch town. We make our own ranch from scratch everyday and it’s great. I like to think that we’ve contributed to the local preference for ranch.”  

And how does the expert prefer to eat his wings? “I’m more of a drum man. Just dig in with in your hands, start at the top and work your way down. I personally am a bit of a double dipper.”   B.E. Mintz

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