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Hop House wins Midwest Wingfest, donates prize to Climb for PTSD

Hop House Southern Eatery owner Michael Durso with some of his award winning smoked chicken wings in a Carolina mustard sauce.  (O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)
Hop House Southern Eatery owner Michael Durso with some of his award winning smoked chicken wings in a Carolina mustard sauce.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

O’FALLON – Hop House Southern Eatery took home the grand prize at this year’s Midwest Wingfest, but it was Climb for PTSD that left with the check.

Michael Durso, owner of Hop House, said it was always the plan for his restaurant to donate the proceeds from their time at the Wingfest to Climb for PTSD, a charity that helps provide help obtaining mental health services and other needs for Veterans living with PTSD.

“We were happy to make a donation to Climb for PTSD. Our goal was to donate all of our proceeds, which we figured to be about $500. When we won WingFest, we added on that prize money and wrote them a check for $1,000.”

Hop House Southern Eatery took home the title of Best Overall Wing, which included a $500 prize and a plaque.

“We were happy to make the donation to such a worthy cause. We had a great time at Wingfest. It was packed. Weather was fantastic,” Durso said.

Durso said Hop House brought out their smoked chicken wings, which were a huge hit with the crowd.

“We did smoked fried wings. So all of the wings we served down there had been smoked for hours at the restaurant and then we transported them down there and fried them in the fryer. That makes them really good. As you smoke them you get a crust and then that smoke crust candies when you fry it,” he said.

However, an even bigger draw were Hop House’s wing sauces.They had four sauces on hand: Carolina mustard, bar-b-cue, buffalo habanero, and blueberry chipotle.

“We probably won because of our blueberry chipotle sauce. It’s really good. It’s blueberry but with a kick to it,” Durso said. “The coolest thing was when I was down there, we would run out of wings because we had to smoke them first. We would fill the smoker with wings, take them down there. But it takes two hours for them to smoke, so we’d run out here and there. At times when we were out, people would get wings from other places and come over and use our sauces. They’d get a naked wing and come over to get that blueberry sauce they’d kept hearing about. It was great.”

For more information on Climb for PTSD, visit their website at www.climbforptsd.org.