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Matt Plapp judging sauce-off contest at National Chicken Wing Festival this weekend in Buffalo, N.Y.

Matt Plapp, CEO of national media and marketing company America’s Best Restaurants, headquartered in Florence, has been selected by Drew “The Wing King” Cerza to be a judge at the 2022 National Chicken Wing Festival held Labor Day weekend in Buffalo, New York.

Nineteen restaurants are lined up to showcase their wings at this year’s festival, held for the first time on the field at Highmark Stadium in Buffalo, home turf of the Buffalo Bills.

The festival draws attendees from all 50 states and many countries around the world. Highlights of the festival include numerous contests, such as competitive wing eating, amateur cook-offs, bobbing for wings and a qualifying event for the USA Mullet Championship.

Plapp judged the “blind sauce-off.” America’s Best Restaurants is also the media sponsor for the entire event, and all participating restaurants will be interviewed on-camera and highlighted on ABR’s website, social media, and used as  promotional video for next year’s festival.

Cerza, the festival founder, has been at the helm of the festival since 2001. He notes the incredible hard work restaurants put in, perfecting their sauces to stand out in a crowd of competitors. 

“This is a fun time, but extremely serious,” Cerza wrote in an email to the judges. “This competition is extremely important to the restaurants. They prepare for months to come up with new sauces and take current sauces to the next level.”

For Plapp, the opportunity to be a judge is really a dream come true.

“It’s a massive honor,” he says. “I’ve been eating Buffalo wings since I was six years old. I can remember going to Barleycorn’s Lakeside Park location and eating wings in the early ‘80s.  Now here I am at 46 getting to judge my favorite food, Buffalo wings, on the biggest stage possible.”

The National Chicken Wing Festival is held annually in Buffalo, New York, and 2022 marks its 20th anniversary.


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