Legendary five-time Wing Bowl champ Bill Simmons (aka El Wingador) and Conshohocken-based Waffatopia® have combined forces to create a one-of-a-kind waffle that will provide financial aid to Puerto Rico’s rebuilding efforts. The new waffle pairs mangos and habaneros to produce a sweet and spicy union that delivers a kick with every bite.
How did this partnership come about? El Wingador was looking for a waffle to use as a base for a chicken and waffle dish for his fast-casual restaurant, which he is currently raising capital to launch. The 55-year-old entrepreneur visited Waffatopia’s manufacturing facility in Conshohocken for a brainstorming session with owners Brian and Andrea Polizzi. Inspired by Simmons’ Puerto Rican roots (mango is a popular fruit on the island) and Simmons’ love of anything spicy, they landed on the mango-habanero combo. The Polizzis went into their test kitchen and discovered that the two ingredients worked in a waffle.
“Mango habanero hot sauce is a very popular and known combination. What I think is unexpected and unique is for us to bring it into a waffle. It wound up being a really fantastic fusion of flavors,” explained Brian. “In the initial bite you get a very ripe sweet flavor on the palate. On the second bite you really start to feel the heat.” “With every bite, you get a bright, ripe mango flavor followed by a little explosion of heat on the back end,” added Simmons. “I absolutely love it!” The recipe took about a month to develop, and the waffle is best enjoyed later in the day as a snack or dinner with savory topping editions, such as chicken, andouille sausage, pulled pork or even grilled fish.
For the charitable component of this delicious partnership, Waffatopia will make a donation towards Puerto Rican relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria for every El Wingador Mango Habanero waffle sold. The donations will go to #ChefsForPuertoRico, which is part of World Central Kitchen — a non-profit led by world renowned culinary star Chef José Andrés. Chef Andrés and a group of volunteer chefs have served more than 300,000 meals to families in Puerto Rico as the island begins the long road to rebuilding.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but I’m of Puerto Rican descent, and I have relatives and close friends who live there,” said Simmons. “I thought this was the right thing to do, and I’m so grateful Waffatopia shares my philanthropic spirit.” The waffle is available now and can be ordered online at https://www.waffatopia.com, and delivered fresh anywhere in the U.S. Simmons also plans to feature it at his El Wingador restaurant, which he hopes to open in the Philadelphia area next year.
The El Wingador Mango Haberno is the first offering in Waffatopia’s new Chef Series, in which the company collaborates with high-profile culinary innovators to develop unique and tasty variations of their Belgian Liège-style waffles that will be sold on Waffatopia’s website, as well as incorporated into menu items at each chef’s respective restaurants. Some of the heavy hitters the Polizzis are currently in recipe development with include Chef Patrick Feury of Nectar; James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur Michael Solomonov; and Chef Darryl Harmon, who is the unofficial waffle king of New York with his outrageous and sinfully delicious creations at SlateNY and Clinton Hall. “Epicureans will be able to enjoy the delicious results of our collaborations through our website, as well as at the restaurants of these brilliant chefs,” said Brian.
If that isn’t enough to whet your appetite, immediately on the heels of the Chef Series products will be the debut of Waffatopia’s new Craft Spirits Line – Liège-style waffles infused with some of the best American crafts spirits, including Dad’s Hat PA Rye and Cooper River Distillers’ Petty Island Rum. “We don’t know of any company that is doing what we’re doing with waffles. We’re excited to be raising the bar on waffles as we continue to strive to be innovators in our field.”