Buffalo Bliss

A College student's quest to find the best buffalo chicken in South Jersey

Farewell.. For Now.

Over the last 15 weeks, I’ve posted a dozen or so stories covering all aspects of the buffalo taste in South Jersey, from the annual Wing Bowl event in Philadelphia (Even talking to the event’s founder, Al Morganti) to the buffalo snacks you should have at your party, to some of the most unique buffalo food options in South Jersey, and even the origin of the buffalo wing.

But, as you may know from the About page of this site, this blog was run as part of an Online Journalism class at Rowan University, and with the semester coming to a close, I’m no longer required to post weekly stories and tidbits of information about buffalo chicken.

So, with the summer approaching in full wing and a full plate of activities and job obligations, I’m going to have to say farewell to Buffalo Bliss – at least for now. I’ve truly enjoyed covering the area’s buffalo chicken, and may come back to the topic in the future, simply due to my love of anything and everything buffalo.

But until then, this site will certainly remain online for the recipes, historical background, and list of great places to eat so that all of you can enjoy only the best buffalo tastes in all of South Jersey. So thanks for stopping by the last few months, and I hope you enjoyed this blog as much as I did.

-Bruce

Ray’s Lunch Draws People Near and Far for Good Eats

Customers approach Ray’s Lunch Wagon in Woodbine, NJ (Photo By Bruce Knoll Jr.)

There are dozens of “lunch wagons” across the Southern New Jersey area, but not many can claim they have daily customers who come from over 50 miles away to grab a breakfast sandwich or signature buffalo chicken cheesesteak.

Ray’s Lunch Wagon, situated on a small property at the intersection of Woodbine-Ocean View Road and County Route 610 in Cape May County is a popular stop by many area food eaters, both near and far, for the wagon’s wide variety of foods offered at a considerable price and built-to-order. Now operating in its fifth year, Ray’s Lunch sells thousands of sandwiches each year, and has daily customers from over 100 miles away.

Obviously with daily customers from such a considerable distance, the lunch wagon is catered towards a particular area of customers – truck drivers.

“I was a truck driver for 15 years, so I know how difficult it is to find a quick eat at an affordable price,” said the wagon’s owner, Ray Bierbrunner. “I’d always had an interest in cooking, and five years ago I decided I was tired of being on the road and I was going to give cooking a shot. I’ve been selling the best food in South Jersey ever since.”

When he first came off the road, Bierburnner saw a need for food for the area’s many trash-truck drivers and county workers who worked or travelled to and from the county’s landfill on Route 610 in Woodbine each day. So, after getting the okay from landfill officials, Bierbrunner was able to set up a lunch wagon just within the landfill’s entrance. The success came almost immediately.

“The first work was a bit slow; people didn’t really know what to expect,” he said. “But after I got over the initial opening, and the guys began stopping as they went by to grab a sandwich or cold soda, it began to pick up. And the great thing about being at the county’s landfill was that trash workers from all over the county came to drop off trash, and if they liked the place, they told their friends – it really helped spread Ray’s Lunch all over the county.

Before long, people all over the county, and even those outside, were stopping in to get the food offered – from morning breakfast sandwiches, to cheeseburgers, hot dogs, sausage-pepper-and onion sandwiches- but right from the start, Bierburnner said, his buffalo chicken cheesesteak was something special.

“I had been offering chicken cheesesteak, and one day one of my customers asked if I had any hot sauce to put on it. I threw some Tabasco sauce on it, and the rest is history, as they say,” he said. People began asking for it, so much that I began to sell out of my chicken steaks each day. It got added to the menu, and it’s still one of the top sellers.”

When asked what makes the sandwich so special, Bierbrunner stated that he believes the quality of his chicken steaks, the mixture of sauce he uses, and the bleu cheese dressing that tops the sandwich makes it a winning combination.

Ray Bierbrunner prepares a sandwich for a customer at his lunch wagon located near the intersection of Route 550 & Route 610 in Woodbine, NJ(Photo by Bruce Knoll Jr.).

The lunch wagon became so popular, and so many customers who weren’t in the trash industry were stopping for a bite to eat, that a substantial number of cars were entering the dump each day specifically for Ray’s Lunch, and it was beginning to cause a hazard.

The director of the landfill asked Ray to relocate to another spot to avoid any safety issues elevated traffic may cause in the landfill, so Ray Lunch relocated to a small piece of property at the intersection just a quarter mile away from the landfill where a former book factory still stands.

Bierbrunner said the move was a blessing in disguise. “I wasn’t sure how my business would be affected by the move, but it turns out many of the trash drivers have to pass this intersection anyway,” he said. There was much more parking available, an electric input, and a prime position for the back-up of summertime traffic. It opened the door to a whole new range of customers that didn’t shy into the landfill for food.”

Now it his 4th year at the current location, Ray’s Lunch has a handful of dedicated everyday customers – and many aren’t ones who live just around the corner.

“Ray’s Lunch is a a tri-state lunch wagon must-eat,” said truck driver Dale Olsen, a Camden, Delaware native who does two 225-mile round trips each day from Delaware to the South Jersey area to transport sand and gravel products from one of Cape May County’s three mineral mining companies. “Since I begin running my double-round trip at four in the morning, it puts me to Ray’s at about 6:30. I can grab a coffee and a sandwich for the road as I head back to Delaware, and then by the time I make it back for my second trip, its 12:30 or 1 o’clock and I grab a sandwich. No place better in those 112 miles.”

Bierbrunner says he occasionally missing being on the road after hearing some stories from various truck drivers, but he wouldn’t trade his current job for anything. “My transition to full-time lunch wagon operator was defiantly the best choice I’ve ever made in my life, or at least the best after going the church,” he said. “I can come home at the end of the day and say I truly love what I’m doing at work each day, and that’s something not a lot of people can do.”

** Ray’s Lunch Wagon was just one of the many great places mentioned on Buffalo Bliss. For a complete listing of all the locations covered, see the map below.**

EMTs “Know The Game” When it Comes to Wing-Eating

There’s no more popular meal when watching your favorite sporting event than a plate full of buffalo wings and an ice cold drink in hand. And there’s no occupation that visits more restaurants and quick-eats than the emergency medical services field.

I asked a group of emergency medical technicians from Squad 22 in Belleplain, New Jersey where their favorite places to grab a slate of wings, kick back, and enjoy the game once they’re off duty.

Here’s some of the best responses… Enjoy the food and games!

Wawa Enters Buffalo Chicken Market

(Photo courtesy of Flickr's Isiegert)

 

Buffalo chicken products are appearing almost everywhere nowadays, from fast food places such as Wendy’s offering spicy chicken sandwiches to restaurants fully dedicated to serving the finest buffalo taste, such as Buffalo Wild Wings and World of Wings.

One of the tri-state’s most popular food vendors, Wawa Markets, is no exception to the buffalo trend, and has recently began offering a select number of items for those buffalo lovers.

One of Wawa’s more popular grab-and-go options is the wraps offered, featuring a tortilla wrap containing various items. In this category, they offer a buffalo chicken wrap, containing cubes of chicken mixed in Wawa’s buffalo bleu sauce and wrapped with lettuce. This particular piece normally ranges around $4.00.

Due to the popularity of their chicken tenders, Wawa launched their chicken sandwiches, which consist of chicken strips on either a Kaiser Roll or long roll of 4, 6, 10, or 24 inches in length with various toppings. Much like the buffalo chicken wrap, Wawa offers a buffalo chicken sandwich

with the buffalo bleu sauce and your choice of toppings. The cost of this sandwich varies due to the different size options.

Finally, one of Wawa’s most recent additions to their menu has been the melted flatbread meals. Wawa surveyed area Wawa managers to see what they thought the initial flavors released should be, and it was a no brainer for Wawa #470 in Dennisville, NJ said manager Desiree Morrison.

“Not surprisingly, the buffalo chicken flatbread

was one of the first options that popped in many of the managers’ heads,” she said. “Buffalo chicken was the overwhelming winner for the responses from Wawas all over the tri-state region, we were told, and it’s no surprise to me. The chicken sandwiches’ success was a clear indicator that people love their spicy chicken.

So as a result, the Buffalo Chicken flatbread was one of the first flatbreads offered, giving buffalo lovers a large fill of buffalo chicken and buffalo blue sauce melted in a tortilla with a side of sour cream.

Whatever you might be craving, Wawa is now able to satisfy your quick buffalo chicken fix.

When It Comes To Cooking, Mother Still Knows Best

(Photo by Bruce Knoll Jr.)

After trying a large number of buffalo chicken foods throughout the southern New Jersey area, I’ve still yet to find something better than my mother’s homemade buffalo chicken dip. So, I’ve got my mother’s permission to share her top-secret recipe for the best buffalo chicken taste in the world.

Here’s what you’ll need:

- (2) Cans of 10 oz. canned chicken (We use Valley Fresh 100% natural canned chicken)
- (½) bottle of 16 oz. ranch salad dressing
- (½) bottle of 12 oz. hot sauce (We use Frank’s Red Hot)
- (2) 8 oz. cream cheese packages
- (1) bag of 8 oz. Shredded cheddar cheese

To start, set your oven to 325℉. Begin by dumping the contents of the chicken cans in a bowl, mixing it in with the cream cheese packages. (If you prefer to use your own chicken, you can shred about 20 oz. worth of chicken and use that to be added to the bowl).

Next, add ½ a bottle of the ranch dressing, and mix in with the chicken and cream cheese. Next, add ½ bottle of hot sauce (For a spicier dip, add more hot sauce, and for a less spicy flavor add less. Half a bottle is a happy medium for me).

Finally, dump the contents into an oven-safe bowl or tray. Bake at 325℉ for 30 minutes. Then, remove the bowl from the oven and sprinkle enough shredded cheese over it to cover the top surface of the contents. Bake the dip for an additional five minutes to allow the cheese to melt. Then, remove the dip, allow to cool for several minutes, and then enjoy. You can dip almost anything in the mix, but I find Nacho Cheese Doritos to most appetizing.

Church’s Chicken Dinner Provides More Than Just a Meal

The Belleplain United Methodist Church located on Broad Street in Belleplain, NJ (Photo by Bruce Knoll Jr.)

This past week, I sat down with Lucille Pettit, the treasurer of Belleplain United Methodist Church in Belleplain, NJ and discussed the church’s annual chicken dinner fundraiser that they conduct twice a year to raise money to provide their community with a safe church environment and help those in need through monetary donations.

A member of the church for over 50 years, Pettit has played an important part in the chicken sales for a number of years. The chicken at the sale is coated in either barbeque sauce or buffalo sauce. Pettit stressed the importance of the chicken dinner to the operation of the church, saying a large portion of the funds needed for their budget are raised through the sales each year, which attract hundreds to the small town. Here’s the interview.

Lucille Pettit, Treasurer of Belleplain U.M.C.

Al Morganti Talks Wing Bowl’s Past, Future

(Photo used courtesy of WIP media release)

Al Morganti, radio host for the morning show on WIP Sports Radio in Philadelphia, as well as an analyst for Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia, is recognized as the founder of the annual Wing Bowl competition in Philly each February.

He offered these remarks during a phone interview in regards to the origins of the Wing Bowl, and a possibility for the Wing Bowl’s next location that might surprise you.

The Buffalo Wing is Born..?

(Photo by Bruce Knoll Jr.)

Sometime in the 1960′s, the chicken wing covered in spicy buffalo sauce began to rise to relative popularity, eventually peaking at its current position as one of America’s favorite snacks.

However, the origins of the first buffalo wings remain a mystery to this day. Various stories and accounts of the creation of the meal have lead most food historians to narrow the delicacy birth down to one of two people -Teresa Bellissimo or Daniel Gorski, according to the Atlas of Popular Culture in the Northeast.

Some dispute still remains about the actual sequence to which the wing came about; however, as mentioned in a story run in the magazine The New Yorker in 1980, the buffalo wing came about in one of three ways.

The first theory of the wing’s birth is that Bellissimo and her husband Frank, who owned the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY were faced with a dilemma when their college-aged son showed up in the late-hours of a night and Teresa, looking to prepare a quick meal for her son and his friends, deep-fried several chicken wings which she was saving for broth and basted them in cayenne sauce.

Another story told in the New Yorker by Frank Bellissimo was that he was having an extremely profitable night at the bar/restaurant with patrons purchasing plenty of drinks, and since it was close to midnight on a Friday night and many of his patrons had been unable to eat meat all day due to their Catholic religious practices, he suggested his wife cook up some chicken, when she came up with the idea for the buffalo wing.

The third story about the wing’s origin comes from across town in Buffalo, where Daniel Gorsky claims to have been cooking chicken wings with what he called his special “mambo” sauce since the early 1960s.

Regardless of its true origins, the buffalo wing does exist, and remains one of the most popular foods in America, thanks to Daniel Gorsky’s mambo sauce or “Mother Teresa’s” quick thinking.

Buffalo Taste Heating Up for March Madness

Image

Photo Courtesy of sausagekingofseattle.

 

With the 2012 NCAA Basketball Tournament quickly approaching, the talk of buffalo-related food is back at the forefront of food talk in the news this week.

 

Buffalo Wild Wings, a nationwide chain that caters towards sports fans with their signature buffalo wings, is running a month-long promotion in regards to the Tourney, The chain will be offering daily specials during the tournament featuring discounted food and drink items.

 

While you’re at Buffalo Wild Wings cheering on your favorite team, you may have the opportunity to order and pay for your food directly at your table without even interacting with a waiter. The chain is testing the use of Apple iPads at numerous locations across the country in an effort to cut down on employee costs and become more efficient in taking orders.

 

Not to be outdone, another nationwide food chain, Pizza Hut, is also offering a March Madness special. If one of the four #16 seeds in each bracket upset the top-seeded team, Pizza Hut is set to embark on a nationwide journey with a mobile Pizza Hut kitchen, offering free pizza slices at various locations in honor of the upset. In addition, Pizza Hut is offering it’s $10 dinner box in an effort to back the #10 seeded teams in the tournament.

 

If you’re looking to stay home for the tournament, we’ve also got some tasty new recipe ideas for you to impress your friends with. Lauren Hallow of the Kentucky State Journal offers a recipe for buffalo chicken meatballs, while Sandi Arata of Rock Ur Party suggested blue-cheese-stuffed buffalo chicken bites.

 

So whether you’re staying home or going out, kick back, enjoy the tournament, and watch as the action and your taste buds heat up. 

Alternatives to the Tradition “Wing” Abudant in South Jersey

Many think of chicken wings when thinking of the buffalo flavor, but there are dozens of alternatives to the traditional buffalo taste. Features below are five of the most tasty alternatives for spicy buffalo flavor in Southern New Jersey.

1. Buffalo Chicken Salad, Saladworks (Glassboro)

2. Buffalo Chicken Shrimp Wrap, The GEM (Ocean View)

3. Buffalo Chicken Spring Roll, Lucky Bones Backwoods Grille (Cape May)

4. Buffalo Chicken Pizza, Papa Luigi’s Pizzeria (Dorchester)

5. Buffalo Chicken Wrap, World of Wings (Rowan University)

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