Luton's Chicken George champions at Wing Fest and chosen to feed England squad
'This little independent from Luton and Hitchin had now confirmed its place at the table in the big leagues'
A Luton takeaway business was thrilled to win a prestigious food award and serve their meals to none other than the England men's football squad - and all in the space of a few weeks!
Chicken George, Hitchin Road, attended the Annual Wing Fest competition at The Olympic Stadium, London, this summer, winning Best Buffalo Wing and Best Wild Wing.
They also fed the England footballers after being specially invited by the FA to serve the players their wings and chips as a morale booster.
Raf, from Chicken George, told us: "As we all gathered at the main stage the atmosphere was electric with the anticipation of the MC on the mic. As he reeled of the name of the third then second place, our butterflies kicked in - until we heard: 'And 1st Place The People's Choice Buffalo Wing, Chicken George and The Ribman!'
"We were elated, and we went on stage and paid our respects to everyone that had stood in the biblical rain that hammered down on the Sunday."
Wing Fest is the world’s biggest chicken wing festival outside of America, with UK independents, big restaurant chains, and even new pop ups competing against one another.
Chicken George's offering for the Best Buffalo Wing was a collaboration with 'The Famous Rib Man' from Brick Lane, London, and his buffalo sauce, which was was served with chunky blue cheese, celery, and chives.
Its second wing, entered into the Wild Wing section was its Thai Wing, 'Thai me up u Naughty Chick', which comprises of spicy Thai chilli sauce, crushed peanuts, crispy garlic, chilli flakes, and spring onions, topped with lemon grass mayo.
Raf remembered: "On the Saturday, the judges voted the Rib Man Buffalo number one, crowning it the Best Buffalo wing in the country, whilst placing the 'Thai Me Up U Naughty Chick' third best; we were obviously elated.
"We decided to push harder on the Sunday. This was the double [win] we wanted: the 'People Vote'. Chicken George is 'for the people by the people', hence our motto and hashtag: 'Chickenforthepeople'.
"The crowd roared as we went on stage with the chants of 'We are Luton town' being shouted at us! The feeling was the best ever. The team gave every single ounce and more."
Chicken George is a family run business established in Luton in 1985 and founded Ray Cheah.
In recent years, his son Christopher Cheah has taken over the business and has "taken it to the next level", winning multiple awards including Takeaway of the Year in the UK.
He has also opened a modern, sit-down restaurant in Hitchin along with regularly competing at WingFest.
News of the business's success spread, which then led to an exciting opportunity.
Raf explained: "Smack bang in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, the business grew from strength to strength as well as our social media.
"As a result, we caught the eye of The FA. They contacted us and loved what we were doing: the quality of the food, the vibe, and the meaning 'Chicken For The People'.
"They loved it, so they invited us to St George’s Park, the HQ of the England football team."
The aim was to give the squad and the back room staff a break and a moral booster, so the day after the Euro 2021 group game against Croatia, Chicken George took its food trailer to Burton on Trent.
Raf said: "To say they loved the food would be an understatement. This was a day off for the team - a chance to be themselves and just chill, yet they were so friendly and chatty whilst being professional.
"There was plenty of food, so over half the team came back for seconds. As a business, we were buzzing and honoured to have the opportunity."
You can find out more about Chicken George, here: https://chicken-george.co.uk/