The contestants had five minutes to eat five wings covered in Righteous Pig’s signature hot sauce. If they can withstand the heat for five more minutes, they get a t-shirt, gift card, a bottle of his signature hot sauce and most importantly, bragging rights.
Scott Muir, owner of the barbecue at 124 E. Main Street in Belleville, got the idea from a former colleague in Denver who did something similar at his restaurant. Muir invented the sauce that has a cornucopia of chili peppers including Trinidad Scorpion Butch T pepper, Bhut jolokia (or ghost peppers) and the current Guinness World Record holder for hottest chili, the Carolina Reaper. A few other ingredients, including mustard seed, garlic and lime juice, are added so that “it could have flavor and not just be hot,” Muir said.
The wing challenge will become a tradition, Muir said, and compliments his Cuban Challenge in March and the Crawfish Boil with Big Daddy’s on February 6th. For Muir, bringing the community through his doors is important but holding these events is a way to build a positive relationship.
“We just want people to come out and have fun, party a little bit,” Muir said. “Food is supposed to be about creating memories. We’re trying to create some memories with this kind of stuff.”
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Samantha Heil, 32, has been bringing her family to Muir’s shop since it opened. She refuses to go anywhere else in town and feels very loyal to the message Muir has.
“Working for a local business, I like to support the local businesses around here,” said Heil. “This is the best barbecue and we are in here all the time.”
Sitting patiently for the challenge to begin she was “a little nervous and never had done anything like this.”
Tyler Ingrum, 33, was not as nervous and could “eat another round of wings in just a few minutes if I had to.” His family groaned and laughed as he sat with them on the wooden table in the restaurant.
“I love seeing competition like this in your own back yard,” Ingrum said. “It brings a lot of positive attention to a small business and I’d really like to see more of it.”
Muir hopes that more people will come next year and wants to put it on a grander scale. While it’s fun to challenge the community, he thinks the core message of bringing joy to the community will be the main reason it succeeds.
“It’s about creating parties, creating fun,” Muir said. “Getting people back downtown, being neighborly. ‘Hey let’s do something, let’s have fun.’ I think I did that.”