What happens when you pair chefs with drag queens and kings in a food/drag competition worthy of an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race? Other than fabulousness, you get Sashay, Fillet! – the latest fun and entertaining event presented by Eat North, and part of Calgary Pride, which runs Aug. 24 to Sept. 3. Sashay, Fillet! will not only feature local talent, but will be hosted by Top Chef Canada’s Mijune Pak as well as Season 10 Drag Race contestant Yuhua Hamasaki in her first Canadian appearance.
Perla Coddington is a local drag queen who came to know Eat North’s Dan Clapson through hosting viewing parties of RuPaul’s Drag Race at Dickens Pub. Coddington became involved in Eat North’s Drags Benny brunch event, and her involvement with Sashay, Fillet! followed.
“(Dan and I) ended up talking about doing something for Calgary Pride,” explains Coddington. “And he said ‘I have this great idea: Top Chef meets RuPaul’s Drag Race. Are you in?’ and I was like, ‘I am already brushing my wig!’ ”
The competition itself promises to be entertaining to say the least, with local chefs paired up with drag queens and kings. “Oh my goodness, this is an exciting moment!” exclaims Coddington when asked about the event. “It’s going to be a full-on competition, with me and four kings and queens competing for the crown along with five local chefs. We are going to be doing drag challenges while our chefs do food challenges, we’re going to be eliminated and I’m going to go home first. It’s going to be amazing.”
Quinn Staples, executive chef at Hotel Arts, is one of the chefs involved and is looking forward to this unpredictable event that will consist of challenges to be executed by the chef/drag pairs. “There will be a challenge where the drag king or queen will do some cooking with instructions from the chef,” he explains, “but the chef can’t touch any food. There’s another one where the drag king or queen will do something like a breakup number, with the chef sitting in a chair and some sort of surprise element … I’m not sure what round that is, but I’m not sure I want to make it that far!”
Trepidation aside, Staples believes this is going to be one fun night. “It could be crazy! … I think it’s just going to be, as events go, very colourful and extremely entertaining – a great event to people watch.”
Coddington herself isn’t too optimistic about her chances in this competition. “I want to Vanjie myself out of there!,” she says. referring to RPDR Season 10 contestant Miss Vanjie, who instantly became a meme after her memorable exit from the show. “I want to go home first and I just want to back up and say, ‘Miss Coddington … Miss Cooooddington …’ and have a dramatic exit. Everyone will be like, ‘Wow, we were expecting so much more from her,’ and I’ll be like, ‘Well, you shouldn’t have!’ ”
Aside from the celebrity judges of Pak and Hamasaki, drag queen Terri Stevens will also be on hand to scrutinize the contestants. “She is the Crypt Keeper of Calgary drag,” explains Coddington, “she has been doing this since before I was alive and for some reason she’s not dead yet – we’re all wondering why – but she’ll be there. She’ll obviously expose her T-Rex claws, like she was from the Jurassic period, we all know she’s been around for a hot minute, so she can judge us.” (Am I in a library? Because I believe someone has just been read.)
Coddington also believes that drag is an art form, and through the popularity of queens such as Sasha Velour, Season 9 winner, it’s helping to bring the artistry of drag, as well as a better understanding of the LGBTQ community to the forefront. “I love this idea of drag almost being this beacon and this entryway for people to really learn about the LGBTQ community and understand the community.”
As with RPDR, there can only be one winner, but that shouldn’t discourage the queens and kings who don’t make it that far. Look at Trixie Mattel who was eliminated twice before coming back to win RPDR All-Stars 3. There’s queens such as Aja, Miz Cracker, Eureka … all contestants who didn’t win the competition but who will be drawing crowds here in Calgary during Pride. And don’t forget thrice eliminated queen, Shangela …
“RIGHT?” exclaims Coddington. “Can the last line of the article just be #shangelawasrobbed?”
Yes. Yes it can.
Sashay, Fillet! will take place Aug. 30 at Hotel Arts. Check out eatnorth.com for ticket info.
Kari Watson is a writer and former Listings Editor of FFWD Weekly, and has continued to bring event listings to Calgary through theYYSCENE and her event listings page, The Culture Cycle. Contact her at email@example.com.