Meet Avanna Kedavra Aka Tony J Penton

As we ease out of the June Pride season and into the September Pride season (we really know how to stretch out a good thing here in Calgary, don’t we?), we stopped into visit drag queen and culinary arts graduate Avanna Kedavra (aka Tony Penton) for a chat in her fabulous retro kitchen. Tony manages the Highwood Dining Room at SAIT and performs all over the city – including at Twisted Element, where he once served as pub chef.

Photo by Dana Pugh | Costume by Smother Theresa | Wig by Elektra Kute

What’s your favourite meal to cook for company?

Whenever I want to cook for people it’s a fresh pasta. Whether it be ravioli or fettucini, my pasta roller is usually always involved in a nice dinner with friends. When it’s just us at home, my husband likes to call my go to dish, “mix of random fridge ingredients.” Sounds like puttanesca to me?

What ingredient couldn’t you live without?

Honestly, anything dairy. I love cooking with cheese, butter and cream. Goat cheese is probably number one though. The fact that I’m lactose intolerant is a taboo subject in my house.

What tool or appliance gets used most in your kitchen?

I have an orange Le Creuset pot that I use for EVERYTHING. I got it as a wedding gift from a very close friend. Sometimes I talk to it while I’m cooking.

What is your guilty food pleasure?

HOTDOGS. Extra mustard and a bit of mayo and ketchup. And, like, the no name hot dogs. That’s how guilty it is.

What do you love most about your kitchen?

I love how open the whole kitchen is and how much counter space I have. There is so much room for activities in here.

What would you change about it?

The only thing I would change about it is how low the pots and pans come down. I’m tall, especially in heels, so I need that extra space to turn around and not get hit with a cast-iron pan.

What’s your favourite 10-minute meal to make?

A nice quick taco spread. Ten minutes to brown the beef and while it’s cooking you chop up your tomatoes and onions. (Or open a jar of salsa if you’re lazy.)

What’s your favourite restaurant in the city?

It’s a tie for first place. I LOVE Moti Mahal on 14th St. S.W. It’s a little mom and pop that has been going strong for almost 30 years. Everything is made fresh in house and it is just the BEST Indian restaurant in Calgary. The other one is Noodle King on 32nd Ave. N.E. It’s the quickest service with the biggest Thai flavors you’ll find in this city. It is also family run and makes you feel at home.

What’s something you wish everybody knew about drag queens?

The one thing that I want people to know about drag queens is that in my experience, we do it for the audiences, cheer and community.

Editor’s Note: Tony/Avanna uses she/her pronouns when in drag and he/him pronouns when in plain clothes.