WEST LOOP — On Sunday at Chicago's Best WingFest, I learned that the only thing better than watching a grown woman convulse in pain after taking a bite into a chicken wing spicy enough to melt her face is when a hot wing makes a Chicago ward boss cry.
Shortly after arriving at Plumber's Hall for the annual celebration of Chicago's top wing-slinging restaurants, I talked "Wing Geeks" Kristen Schmidt and Danielle Brosch into taste-testing the "Nuclear Wings" from Monti's in Lincoln Square.
"My husband eats the hot wings. I don't eat the hot wings," Brosch said after biting into the hottest of the hot.
"I'm having a little bit of an out-of-body experience because I feel a little faint. That was really hot. It still is really hot. I cannot feel … my mouth. … Beer doesn't help, either."
She survived, barely.
Soon after, I spotted a couple of targets — I mean aldermen.
"I'll try any wing," said Ald. Walter Burnett (27th).
And as soon as he bit into a Monti's Nuclear Wing, the spicy heat started to melt the inside of Burnett's nasal passages.
"Oh, man. My nose feel likes its getting ready to run it's so hot," he said. "It's burning up, jack."
Then Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) took a bite — and started to cry.
"I've never had my eyes water, but that was it from that," he said, his face twisted in agony. "Those were the hottest wings I've ever had."
The Nuclear Wings gave folks gathered around Monti's booth at WingFest a lot of good laughs, especially chef James Gottwald, the guy responsible for setting mouths on fire with the special blend of ghost peppers mixed with Scotch Bonnets, charred serranos and pickled jalapenos.
I asked him how he felt about torturing innocent women and big city ward bosses with his incredibly spicy wings.
"I don't take joy in it. … I just want to make the people who like hot stuff happy," he said, unleashing an evil laugh. "I get pleasure when they smile … afterward."
I don't believe him — not one bit.