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Meat-free ‘Cauliwings’ served at Syracuse Wing Walk

LoFo restaurant owner and chef Abigail Henson replaced chicken with cauliflower in Syracuse’s annual wing contest and found herself with more publicity than the winner.

Posted : 19 March 2014

The Wing Walk, which took place on 23 February in Syracuse (New York state, US) was part of the city’s annual Winterfest. Participants paid $10-12 for a ticket before touring seven local restaurants to sample the wings on offer and voting for their favourite.

‘Cauliwings’ with a secret ‘Dragon sauce’ were served at LoFo (‘love food/local food’), a restaurant which prides itself on sustainable options.

“When meat does make an appearance on the menu we strive to source locally, organically, or ethically and best case scenario, all of the above,” Henson told Meat Free Monday. “For this particular event we were not able to procure 3,000 chicken wings locally or ethically, which resulted in our decision to showcase our mission statement, instead using cauliflower as the vehicle for that message.”

According to Henson, there were “a lot of confused faces, questionable grimaces and a handful of ‘you’ve gotta be kidding me’s’” but, in the end, only one patron out of 1,500 turned away the opportunity to try something new.

Following the event, Henson explained to that her top quality ingredients cost just as much as the meat used in some of the other restaurants and that preparation of the cauliflower dish was more labour intensive than standard wings. Her dish also resulted in less overall wastage, since the “amount in weight of edible ‘meat’ was much greater than the meat you would eat off a bone of a traditional wing”.

Henson is now advocating for more inclusivity at contests like the Wing Walk, encouraging people to think out of the box when it comes to food and new ways of serving it.

“Other restaurants in the area have already begun to adopt cauliwings onto their own menus,” she said. “We hope that is a trend that continues. We would love to say one day we were home of the original.”

Check out LoFo’s famous Cauliwings recipe here.

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