Hall of Flame Ceremony on the Eve of Wingfest

August 30, 2013 Updated Aug 30, 2013 at 11:44 PM EDT

By Kendra Eaglin

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August 30, 2013 Updated Aug 30, 2013 at 11:44 PM EDT


For some at the 12th annual Buffalo Wing Festival it's first-time jitters.

"I just hope we do it right," said Mark Gress, Owner of The Nine Eleven Tavern in Buffalo.

Good thing Gress did his homework and prepared 40 gallons of wing sauce.

"They asked us to be prepared to serve 15,000 wings over the two day period and at my restaurant I started gauging months ago and I came up with a number of 500 wings per gallon," said Gress.

Including Mark Gress' sauce, 32 participating restaurants will offer 132 varieties of wings.

But behind the scenes Robert Free, Director of Food Service for the Buffalo Bisons, is the man running the show.

"I'm the guy in charge of cooking the wings," said Free.

Free oversees the kitchen where the wings for the entire festival are prepped and cooked then delivered to the vendors to sauce and serve.

And that's no easy task. His crew of 40 cooks will cook 80,000 pounds of wings in 30-industrial sized fryers.

Some argue that Buffalo's love affair with the Buffalo wing started in 1964 when the late John Young opened up Wings and Things on Jefferson Avenue, serving wings with his special tomato based "mambo" sauce.

Friday night at the Buffalo Wing Hall of Flame ceremony Young was inducted into the Hall of Flame.

Also honored was longtime Channel 7 personality Brian Kahl who helped the festival garner nationwide attention.

The festival kicks off Saturday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Coca-Cola Field in downtown Buffalo.