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Twisted Element reinvents itself as a restaurant amidst COVID-19

By Jenn Gorrie, August 19 2020—

With COVID-19 regulations affecting many businesses, Twisted Element, well-known as Calgary’s LGBTQ+ nightclub, has re-opened their kitchen in an attempt to stay  active as an establishment. 

Now known as Twisted Pride Pub, the Queer-friendly space has also started welcoming all ages during limited hours. Starting July 25, every Saturday between 11 a.m to 5 p.m, minors can visit the pub and try out the new food menu. 

When Twisted first opened in 2004, they experienced a lack of interest in their food service. They made the decision to discontinue the kitchen, leaving the area to act as a dressing room for the weekly drag performances. 

However, with uncertainty of the pandemic and what would be in store for Twisted’s future, local drag queen Avanna Kedavra spoke up about the possibilities of re-opening the kitchen, with her experience of already being part of the culinary world. 

“Covid was just the spark that it needed, it’s been asking for a while I guess,” said Kedavra, “I just came into the picture last year as a drag queen, people started to get to know me and then they realized what I could do.”

Kedavra, who prefers to go by her drag queen name, graduated from the SAIT Culinary program, where she had the opportunity to also be part of The Taste Market. 

“I made a joke that it’s back over there just clean out the glitter, the despair, and it could be a running kitchen again,” she said. 

Since she was young, Kedavra always had a passion for cooking as she enjoyed competing in her own personal Kitchen Stadium against her sister who also shared a love for watching Iron Chef.

“I’m from Newfoundland, food is huge and so is family, it’s how we connect,” she said. “You will know if they like you if they offer you to come over for dinner.”

Kedavra had the opportunity to prepare dinner for Twisted’s General Manager Keon Brawn and his partner for a birthday celebration. Impressed by her skills, the joke Kedavra had made soon came into fruition in just a little over a week. 

Twisted’s food menu includes not only options for both plant-based diets and gluten-free restrictions, but as well uses a few drag performers’ names to describe some dishes, including the Nobale Oney, Classic Terri Stevens, Mona Want’s Moore Burger, and the Shane-full Steak Sandwich.

Events are also planned to promote the menu —every Friday a dinner show called Classiqueen is held that includes a three-course meal as well as drag performances. 

“We are a Queer space that is evolving to meet the needs of the community and we aren’t going anywhere. We want to host some dope events where people can come and be safe and connect safely with Covid precautions,” said Kedavra.  “We are fighting right now to keep a Queer space open, because without the kitchen I don’t know what would have happened — we’re always fighting to stay open, to evolve, and just be here.”

The decision to re-open the kitchen sparked interest from those within the drag community. Kedavra said that it was never the intention to specifically hire the performers, but nonetheless, Twisted received a lot of interest from them.

One performer that showed some interest is local drag king Shane Onyou, who is one of the few to also have a food item named after him. 

The Shane-full Steak Sandwich is said to be one of Twisted’s top three best sellers, followed by potato skins and the Terri Stevens burger. 

“I love all the humans at Twisted, they are family to me, that being said I didn’t hesitate to jump on board and be involved with the pandemic shift,” said Onyou.

When referring to the staff, Onyou ventured a guess that “around half” both perform in drag and help with the kitchen. “We all really came together to make space for us, all during the adjustments to our strange new world,” Onyou said.

Every Thursday the Shane-full Steak Sandwich goes on special, and can be accompanied by a viewing of Canada’s Drag Race. 

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