How I learned to stop worrying and love chicken wings

In my late teens and early 20s I worked in various service industry jobs, including a stint as a line cook at a mid-tier franchise restaurant; the sort that typically has a cheap wing night on Tuesdays. 

For much of my early tenure at this mid-tier restaurant I was relegated to “fryers,” which is exactly what it sounds like: I would stand at a deep fryer for hours and oversee the submersion of French fries, mozza sticks, battered haddock, and all manner of beige-brown, fatty shit to be cooked in dirty oil with my only respite being regular cigarette breaks. Fryers was an absolutely shit station and it was roughly one rank above Dish Pig, the entry-level back of the house role in the degenerate world of restaurants upon whom everyone heaped abuse and unpleasant tasks.

On Tuesdays though, the person working fryers would likely happily trade places with any dishwasher and swap out fry baskets for scalding water, clogged sinks, and coked-up, oversexed servers shouting for more clean cutlery. Because on Tuesdays the person working fryers would be tasked with overseeing obscene amounts of chicken wings through their grotesque restaurant life-cycle: From frozen brick of wings, to semi-flaccid and thawing in a big sink of running water, to cold and raw and stored in their own congealed juices in large plastic bins, to baked on forearm-singeing trays, to deep-fried and tossed in sauce.

Continue reading “How I learned to stop worrying and love chicken wings”

In praise of awful bars

There’s something great about an awful bar.

As a beer writer, and one that has—admittedly—adopted tastes and a tone of voice in my over half a decade of semi-professional drinks writing that some folks have interpreted as rather snobby, I am almost as surprised to admit it as you might be to hear it: I sometimes love going to terrible bars.

And make no mistake, I’m not talking about “dive bars;” that subset of drinking establishments that are sometimes (and more often than not, intentionally) a little rough around the edges, but have a redeeming quality like amazing tacos, great draught, cool cocktails, etc.


I mean that much larger swath of establishments that pepper most north american landscapes both suburban and metropolitan and that, from a snobby alcohol-enthusiast’s point of view at least, really have no redeeming qualities. Continue reading “In praise of awful bars”