Holiday Parties: How chef and tastemaker Devin Connell gets into the spirit of the season

The Holiday Kickoff

A champagne and hot wings party, with a killer snack table, in Rosedale

By Alex Baldinger| Photography by Erin Leydon
| December 19, 2019

The hosts: Devin Connell, founder of Crumb, a recipe-and-entertaining website; and Darcy Morris, co-owner of investment firm Ewing Morris The guests: 80 to 90 of their close personal friends The occasion: Their annual holiday season kickoff

Holiday Parties: How chef and tastemaker Devin Connell gets into the spirit of the season
Darcy Morris and Devin Connell

When Devin Connell and Darcy Morris started their annual kick-off-the-holiday-season soirée in 2016, they knew they didn’t want a typical eggnog-and-carving-station routine. So they went for something with a bit more bite: mountains of spicy buffalo wings paired with buckets of bubbly. “I like to have an element of surprise when I entertain—something that you don’t see at your typical dinner party,” Connell says. They haven’t changed the menu since.

Holiday Parties: How chef and tastemaker Devin Connell gets into the spirit of the season

Wings are a bit of an obsession in Connell’s household. “My husband would eat chicken wings every day for the rest of his life until he died,” Connell says, “and I could drink champagne every day until I died.” Connell is a recipe developer by trade, but when it comes to feeding a crowd this size, she calls in the big guns: she outsources the wings—all 70 pounds of them—to Duff’s. “They’re bigger, they’re saucier. They’re what every wing should aspire to be,” she says.

Holiday Parties: How chef and tastemaker Devin Connell gets into the spirit of the season

And yet the hundreds of wings that form slick orange piles on guests’ plates aren’t the main culinary attraction. Connell sets out a custom-made six-foot board in the middle of her kitchen. Instead of charcuterie and cheese, she festoons it with a neon assortment of junk food—Cheetos, Hot Lips, Sour Patch Kids, Maltesers and other sugary, salty bits of nostalgia. “We put it on our kitchen island and people just hang around it all night—then take a bag home for their kids,” Connell says. If that’s not enough of a sugar rush, there’s a firepit and blankets out back for making s’mores.

Holiday Parties: How chef and tastemaker Devin Connell gets into the spirit of the season

As for the champagne, Connell stations icy buckets of pink Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Brut Rosé throughout the party. “The idea is to make it look really luxurious and bountiful with all these bottles and ice in big silver buckets, and it’s a really fun juxtaposition with the wings,” she says.

Holiday Parties: How chef and tastemaker Devin Connell gets into the spirit of the season

Devin Connell’s Ultimate Hot Wings

4 lb. fresh chicken wings, a mix of drums and flats 1½ cup Frank’s RedHot sauce ¾ cup unsalted butter ¼ cup vegetable oil 1 tbsp honey 1 clove garlic, finely minced kosher salt and black pepper, to taste (yield: 4 to 6 servings)


1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. In a large bowl, toss the wings in the oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in an even layer on two large baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

3. Bake for 20-25 minutes until cooked through and golden in colour.

4. While the wings are baking, add the Frank’s, butter, honey and garlic to a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sauce is even and glossy.

5. Place the cooked wings in a large, clean bowl and toss with the warm sauce.

6. Serve hot with ranch, dill or blue cheese dipping sauce.

Holiday Parties: How chef and tastemaker Devin Connell gets into the spirit of the season

NEVER MISS A TORONTO LIFE STORY

Sign up for The Vault, our free newsletter with unforgettable long reads from our archives.

By signing up, you agree to our terms of use and privacy policy.
You may unsubscribe at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

More Holiday Stuff

Holiday Parties: How chef Craig Wong and family celebrate Chinese New Year
Food & Drink

Holiday Parties: How chef Craig Wong and family celebrate Chinese New Year