Chef Deepak Ballaney an alumni of The Culinary Institute of America and Cornell, and is also the creator of the International Wings Factory. He chatted with us about what has made his wings business so deliciously successful!
Chef Deepak, can you tell us a little bit about why you went into the wings business?
DB: The primary reason I went into the wings business is because, clichéd as it sounds, I simply love wings myself. I can eat them daily! And I have many friends, as well as customers now, who feel the same. The realization to turn my fondness for wings into an entrepreneurial venture came while I was consulting for restaurants.
At that time, my role was to help distressed restaurants turn around and become profitable – be it Chinese, American, Mexican or Indian. I realized then that the best way to make any restaurant successful is to serve comfort food for the target customers. So I deviated from my original plan of opening a fine dining restaurant and decided to go with my gut feeling of feeding people what they truly enjoy digging into.
What do you think it is about wings that make them such a popular food? What’s the secret to seriously good wings?
DB: Wings are fun food for any occasion; especially when one is watching sports. No matter who you are or what your gastronomic preference is, the moment you have wings in front of you, you will eat it with relish. It is such an unpretentious thing to enjoy!
And it involves your key sensory organs – you can see the succulent pieces of meat doused with sauces just inviting you to chomp on them; you hear a satisfying crunch when you bite into the crusty exterior; and you can feel the finger-licking good taste of the sauce exploding in your mouth!
You have over a dozen different types of wing sauces available. Are there particular favorites?
DB: The reason we decided to have over 17 sauces is because everyone has their own favorites. We have guests who have the same sauce though they have been visiting us regularly for a year now. And since all the sauces are so distinctly different in their flavors, it’s hard to say which ones are favorites. But the most popular coating sauces would be ‘Original Confession’, ‘Vietnamese Chilli Mango’, ‘Classic Barbeque’ and ‘Black Pepper Teriyaki’ because these literally fly off our shelves. Amongst the dipping sauces, I’d say that the ‘Lite Blue Cheese’ and ‘Creamy Cilantro’ are very popular.
Do you see a seasonality in ordering? Do orders for your wings spike during sports games?
DB: Definitely yes. Wings and sports go hand in hand. On game days, our average typical order are 50 Wings, 75 Wings, and so on.
How popular are the vegan soy nuggets and vegetable burgers?
DB: We actually added the vegan soy nuggets and vegetable burgers later on the menu, because quite a number of vegetarian people would walk into our restaurant wanting to try our sauces and dips and not knowing what to have it with. Lots of people have specific dietary requirements too, so we figured it’s best to have such options in our menu. Also, our Traditional Wings are gluten-free and so are most of our sauces.
For those not on the Upper East Side, we have to ask – do you have any plans for a second location?
DB: We are looking to open another big one in the city, but only when the time is right. After all, everyone should have the opportunity to try out our wings!
Ready to test them out? Order the International Wings Factory on Seamless!