Popular Wing Walk returns to Schenectady Saturday; Saratoga Springs hosts Wing Off

Bashir Chedrawee, co-owner of Simone’s Kitchen in Schenectady, prepares Shawarma chicken wings and a tzatziki-blue cheese dressing for Saturday’s Wing Walk.
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Bashir Chedrawee, co-owner of Simone’s Kitchen in Schenectady, prepares Shawarma chicken wings and a tzatziki-blue cheese dressing for Saturday’s Wing Walk.

SCHENECTADY, SARATOGA SPRINGS Downtown Schenectady and Saratoga Springs will be filled with the smell of savory and sweet chicken wings on Saturday.

The popular Wing Walk returns to the Electric City after a two-year hiatus, with nearly 20 restaurants serving up samples from noon to 5 p.m. The Saratoga Wing Off returns from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with restaurants around Spa City offering wing samples.

Though the events are on the same day, organizers say they were not planned together.

“We did not plan that,” said Darryl Leggieri, the president of Discover Saratoga. Bailey’s Saratoga is running the Wing Off with Discover Saratoga. It’s the fifth year of the event, though there was a hiatus because of the pandemic.

Participating Saratoga restaurants will offer $2 samples of wings and attendees can vote via discoversaratoga.org on their favorites in two categories: People’s Choice and Wildest Wing (most creative). Some restaurants, like Bookmakers, are going all out with a pumpkin alfredo recipe. The Diamond Club Restaurant is going with a peanut butter wing, as well as a bourbon maple and apple cinnamon.

A portion of the proceeds raised from the Wing Off will be donated to the American Cancer Society in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

“It’s been a few years since we’ve done it but we expect a few thousand people to show up and come downtown, spend time with their friends and family and make a fun day of it,” Leggieri said.

The Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation is expecting several thousand people for the Wing Walk, which was sold out as of Wednesday. The event has garnered a following over the years, bringing in between 3,500-4,000 people in 2019, according to Amy Sonder, promotions manager at DSIC.

The pandemic curtailed plans for the Walk in 2020 and the DSIC held a Wing Week instead. It was canceled altogether in 2021.

“With the way the prices had all of a sudden skyrocketed, it just wasn’t a feasible thing. Restaurants were worried about the pricing and the staffing and they want to make sure that for the people it was the best that they could do. That’s why we’re excited that everything is going back to the heart of the event in 2022,” Sonder said.

There are quite a few new restaurants and owners involved this year, including Simone’s Kitchen, which opened on Franklin Street about two months ago. While wings aren’t typically on the menu – the eatery is better known for serving Mediterranean Mezza bowls and pita wraps – they’ll be serving up shawarma chicken wings with a lemony aioli and tzatziki-blue cheese.

“Shawarma is a Mediterranean and middle eastern spice blend. It’s about eight spices: cumin, coriander, paprika, cardamon, black pepper, garlic powder and salt,” explained co-owner Bashir Chedrawee.

They usually offer Shawarma chicken in their Mezza bowls and decided to use that same flavor with the chicken wing. For the Wing Walk, they’ll marinate more than 2,200 wings in a marinade made with the Shawarma spices for 48 hours. Then, they’ll air fry the wings and, shortly before serving, cook them on a pan with oil, garlic and parsley. The tzatziki-blue cheese will top the wings off.

The Wing Walk marks the first community event Simone’s Kitchen will be part of, but Chedrawee said it’ll be the first of many.

“We’re a very community-based business so we like to take part,” Chedrawee said.

Other restaurants/owners that are new to the Wing Walk include Annabel’s Pizza Co., Manhattan Exchange, Chez Nous and The Nest.

“It’s amazing to hear some of their questions and ideas, that first-time excitement that they have,” Sonder said. “When you start to get those menus in and those wing flavors in, it’s very exciting to see it all come together and to see such a wide variety of ideas that these chefs can come up with.”

Tickets include a wing sample at each of the participating restaurants (listed below). Participants who visit at least 10 restaurants can vote for their favorite wing by dropping off their ballot (which comes with each ticket) in one of the five ballot boxes set up around downtown Schenectady. Ballots must be in by 5:15 p.m. on Saturday. For more information visit downtownschenectady.org.

Wing Walk participating restaurants:

  • 20 North Broadway – Rasp-banero
  • Annabel’s Pizza Co. – Wood-fired Hot Honey Korean BBQ
  • Backstage Pub – Grilled Peach Habanero Jam w/ Crispy Pork Belly
  • Bombers Burrito Bar – Lemon Pepper Garlic
  • Centre Street Pub – Sweet & Spicy Orange Soda Wing
  • Chez Nous – Hickory Smoked Chipotle Wing w/ a red & green chili pepper glaze
  • Hunter’s on Jay – Pickel-Barrel wings
  • Isopo’s Downtown Pizza – Not Your Kids PB&J
  • Katie O’Byrne’s – Trinity
  • Manhattan Exchange – Orange Soda Jerk Wings
  • Mexican Radio – Thai Water Buffalo Wings
  • The Nest – Sticky Hot Honey
  • Nico’s Pizza – Buffalo Blue Cheese
  • Pho Queen – Spicy Bonchon Wing
  • Pinhead Susan’s – Maple Bacon Barbecue
  • Simone’s Kitchen – Shawarma chicken wing with a lemony aioli and tzatziki-blue cheese
  • SUNY Schenectady (will be located behind Proctors) – Shawarma wing with tahini dressing
  • Union Inn – Seasame Terriyaki
  • YaYa’s House of Southern Cuisine – Sweet potato wing

Wing Off participating restaurants:

  • Bailey’s Saratoga – Blueberry jerk chicken
  • Bentley’s Tavern
  • Bookmakers Restaurant & Lounge – Pumpkin alfredo
  • Brasserie Benelux – Honey Guinness ale
  • BWP – Mango habanaro
  • D’Andrea’s Pizza
  • Diamond Club Restaurant – Peanut butter, bourbon maple and apple cinnamon
  • Druthers Brewing Company – Buffalo garlic parm
  • Harvey’s Restaurant – Harvey’s hot wings
  • Hattie’s Restaurant
  • Morrissey’s Lounge & Bistro – Korean BBQ
  • Nashville of Saratoga
  • PJ’s BAR-B-QSA – Smoked wings
  • Ribbon Cafe
  • Rhea Restaurant – Citrus Asian zing
  • Saratoga City Tavern
  • Spa City Tap & Barrel – Smoked cherry BBQ wings by The Hideaway
  • The Brick at 2 West – Cluck Norris wings
  • The Ice House – Smoked mango habanero
  • The Mill on Round Lake – Hot apple cider wings
  • The Parting Glass – Wicked Irish whiskey wings
  • West Ave Chicken – West Ave hot
  • West Ave Pizza – Chicken tandoori
  • West Side Sports Bar & Grill – Grilled wing rizzy zingers

For more information visit discoversaratoga.org.

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Categories: Food, Life and Arts, Life and Arts, Saratoga Springs, Schenectady

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