The Great Chicken Wing Hunt Director MATTHEW REYNOLDS Sarasota Film Festival Interview
THE GREAT CHICKEN WING HUNT is a comedic documentary about Buffalo Wings and their place in American culture, directed by American journalist Matt Reynolds, in collaboration with Slovak director Zuza Piussi. It follows a ragtag cast of characters searching for the best Buffalo wing, including a Hawaiian chef, a competitive eater, a Slovak film crew and Reynolds' girlfriend, Lucie. The film documents the wing phenomenon and explores the popularity of hot wings and the nature of perfection. The team travels 2,627 miles, tries 284 types of wings, and deliberates for two days before picking a winner.
Mon, 4/8 1:15 PM
Tue, 4/9 9:15 PM
The film will have an After Party on Monday April 8th from 3:30 PM to 7:00 PM at Classico, 1341 Main St, Sarasota. Free wings with the special sauce and complimentary drinks by Titos Handmade Vodka.
SFF 2013: What inspired you to tell this story?
MATTHEW REYNOLDS: The story is actually part of the film. I was working in eastern Europe (Slovakia, Poland, Czech Republic) as a journalist. I was a lifelong wing buff, and being from a small town in central New York, a pretty good wing cook. I started throwing parties where I cooked my new Slavic friends Buffalo wings. Most of them had never eaten them before. It became a thing, these parties, and coincided with hot wings starting to pop up in restaurants all across Europe. At one of the parties,we somehow got onto the idea of taking my Slavic friends on a tour of the best wing houses in the U.S., as you might go to France for a wine tour. Somehow the trip evolved into a mission to find the world's best Buffalo wing. We set up a website, and strangers -- including a Hawaiian chef and a competitive eater -- came out of the woodwork to ask us if they could come along. Some Slovak friends of mine who are filmmakers thought the trip would make a good documentary subject, along with telling the history of wings and getting into the wing phenomenon and the crazy things people do for food.
SFF 2013: Did making this film change your life?
MATTHEW REYNOLDS: The trip itself probably had the most profound effect on my life -- and on the lives of the handful of cooks who ended up vying for the title of 'world's best wing cook'. For me, it brought me home and made me think about why I felt such a deep connection to wings and it allowed me to test some ideas I had about perfection, specifically, is the world so vast and varied that basically everything you can imagine existing (a perfect wing, in this case) is out there and if you work hard enough you'll find it? Or is the world actually a lot smaller and uniform (and more boring) than you might think.
The film changed the lives of the chefs that were in the running for our top title in that the trip was heavily covered by the media and there was a substantial economic/publicity boost at stake. But more important, I think, they seemed genuinely touched that we liked their food and were interested in knowing more about them. Wing cooks do not generally get much attention.
SFF 2013: Is it true that Buffalo wings are the first American food to be embraced around the world?
MATTHEW REYNOLDS: One of our culinary talking heads makes a pretty good case that Buffalo wings, invented in 1964, ARE the first uniquely American food to spread around the world; hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza and other foods we think of as American actually having roots abroad (Italy and Germany in these cases). I don't know if you can prove a statement like that, but I haven't been able to think of another example of a purely American food that's eaten all over the world.
SFF 2013: How has making this movie set you on a new career path?
MATTHEW REYNOLDS: When I started the film I had just quit my job as a journalist at Reuters News Agency in Warsaw, Poland, covering central bank interest rate decisions and currency markets. Making the film helped me transition to working as a TV/Film editor.
SFF 2013: Do you wish to make narrative films at some point?
MATTHEW REYNOLDS: Yes, I do. I haven't had time to get started on a concrete project, though. I'd like to try my hand at a mockumentary. Parts of WING HUNT feel almost like a mockumentary. Which is something I'm proud of.