Eric introduced our very own Ed Felt, who some members also know as the winner of the Traditional Sauce Competition at the 2014 National Buffalo Wing Festival.  Ed presented on his “sauce journey,” chronicling his very early interests in chicken wings and buffalo sauce, to his institution of an annual “Wingsgiving’ event and why he even went to Buffalo, NY in the first place.
Ed started enjoying chicken wings upon starting school at Washington State University, even implementing a Facebook group for fellow members of his hall community to go to such locations as Wingers every week.  He says what most interested him were all the options of sauces at various locations, though (of course) they had to taste good for his interest to flourish.  “Once I turned 21 and could go to previously prohibitive locations, my love affair with wings grew exponentially due to newfound access to so many options,” he said. With the interest of his mom on visits back to his home in the Walla Walla area, they developed a sauce that combined sweet tang with spice, taking inspiration from traditional Buffalo sauce as well as those from Wingers.  Ed continually tinkered with the sauce cause through college and after, eventually being inspired to create a wings-centered event with family and friends: Wingsgiving.  “The notion was I would make the wings, and my guests would bring the “things”,” he said.  “It started fairly disorganized as no guidance was given as to what “things” should be in relation to food and beverage, but we’ve improved.”
Ed went to a conference in Buffalo, NY for his company in 2011, which is where he learned that buffalo wings actually come from Buffalo!  He also learned about the National Buffalo Wing Festival taking place there every September, to which he now planned to go to someday.  Enter 2014, and it’s now the 50th Anniversary of the Buffalo Wing being created at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo.  Working on making some changes to improve the sauce by including fresh garlic and blending, he successfully entered and was accepted into the Traditional Wing Sauce Competition.  Ed said he felt confident upon his arrival to the eponymous city.  However, on his way to the stadium where the festival was being held, he realized he had forgotten the key ingredient of butter! 
Eventually remedied and on stage, he found himself competing against 4 New Yorkers and 2 participants from Pennsylvania, all within a 250-mile radius from Buffalo while he himself was coming from ~3000 miles away!  “I did not expect to win at all,” Ed confessed.  He was even struggling to find a way to successfully and originally present his sauce to the panel of judges, eventually settling on something a friend suggested: apples.  “I presented the wings with apple slices, and told the judges and audience that they were from Washington State,” he said.  “Everyone was like ‘ooh’ and ‘ah.’  The truth is, I purchased them in Buffalo, so who knows where they were from!”
In the end, he did win first place.  The excitement wasn’t over however, as his friend and fellow cougar alumni Alex Haight happened to be a new anchor in the area, and asked him in for a 5-minute interview.  “Being with a good friend and fellow coug in such a far away place might’ve been the top highlight of the whole experience,” Ed said.  At this time, he hopes to continue Wingsgiving every year and hopefully will produce his sauce as a formally developed product in the coming years.