When it comes to food in the Caribbean, thoughts of jerk chicken and rice come to mind more often than buffalo wings.
Yet a restaurant in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Barefoot Buddha, won second place in the Buffalo Media Award “Best in Show” category of the 20th annual National Buffalo Wing Festival in Buffalo, New York. It was held during Labor Day Weekend.
Barefoot Buddha served four of its distinct sauces: Cruzan Rum & Coke BBQ, Caribbean Fire, Buddha Belly Chipotle and the Guava Sweet & Sour, the latter of which finished second in the competition.
“A special thank you to the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism for sponsoring us,” said said Cory Baker, chef-owner of Barefoot Buddha located on the island of St. Thomas. “It was such an honor to be part of the National Buffalo Wing Festival.
“Our chicken wings are very much a departure from the traditional wings served on the mainland with our sauces embracing the flavor profiles reflective of the Caribbean and, more specifically, the U.S. Virgin Islands. The people of Buffalo were so welcoming telling us that our wings were some of the best they have tasted.”
St. Thomas locals probably are not too surprised at the strong finish. After all, Barefoot Buddha won the 2022 St. Thomas King of the Wing competition, an annual event that takes place on the island.
The National Buffalo Wing Festival is held in the city where the food was created. This annual event takes place in Highmark Stadium, home of the Buffalo Bills. It has more than two dozen restaurants with an estimated 50,000 people in attendance. Out of all the participating restaurants, Barefoot Buddha traveled the farthest, nearly 2,000 miles, to bring the taste of the U.S. Virgin Islands to the hordes of wing enthusiasts.