• eat
  • shop
  • see
  • go
  • stay
  • daytrip
  • map
  • calendar
  • transport
  • weather
  • currency
  • tofrom


Silver Skate Festival


Photo by Marc Chalifoux.

Rooted in Dutch traditions, this 10-day winter extravaganza combines sport (like the kortebaan speed-skating race) with the arts and seasonal outdoor fun. Other family fun includes figure-skating presentations, sleigh rides, live musical and thratrical entertainment, snow sculptures, and free snowshoe, skate, and ski rentals! For the first time, this year’s festival will also feature an acre-sized ice castle — crafted by hand using only icicles and water — that looks like a frozen waterfall or glacier!

For a complete schedule of all the cool events during the festival, be sure to visit the website!

Silver Skate Festival | February 12 – 21
Hawrelak Park | 9930 Groat Rd. | 780-442-5311

No Need to Fear Virginia Woolf in Edmonton

We're-Not-Afraid-2Are you afraid of Virginia Woolf? Citadel Theatre has two reasons you shouldn’t be! The first production the theatre put on was Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? — so for their 50th anniversary, they’ve chosen to revisit the classic. Between February 4 and 6, alongside Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize–winning drama in the Shoctor Theatre, you can catch an improvised version of the play performed in The Club. Stay for a nightcap at the theatre and don’t miss either of these brilliant performances!

We’re Not Afraid | February 4 – 6
In this improvised homage to Edward Albee’s masterpiece Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Edmonton’s longest-running improv company Rapid Fire Theatre uses the same structure and relationships as the original, but adds in absurdity and spontaneity. The show will be different every night, but you’re guaranteed a hilarious amount of booze, delusion, and misery.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? | Through February 13
Edward Albee’s scorching classic about a bitter married couple and the young couple they draw into their frustrated relationship was the first production ever taken on by Citadel Theatre. For its 50th anniversary, the theatre revisits this American tale with prominent Canadian actors, including Brenda Robins and Tom Rooney.

Citadel Theatre | 9828-101 Ave. | 780-425-1820

Love Is in the Air at Edmonton Film Society

Three_Coins_In_The_FountainGet caught up on classic romantic comedies with Edmonton Film Society’s latest series: Love Is in the Air. In each curated movie, characters face challenges and entanglements on their quests to find love. With some of the greatest stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood — including Audrey Hepburn, Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, and Frank Sinatra — these romantic movies will have you falling in love with classic cinema. The series will screen in the comfortable theatre at Royal Alberta Museum on Mondays in February, March, and April.

February 8 | 8 pm
Three Coins in the Fountain
Three American secretaries working in Rome make a wish and toss a coin into the city’s Trevi Fountain, thus precipitating romantic involvement with local men.
Starring: Clifton Webb, Dorothy McGuire, Jean Peters

February 22 | 8 pm
All that Heaven Allows
Everyone expects the new widow to settle into her single life, but she finds it stifling. A relationship develops between her and the younger gardener, which her family and friends vehemently oppose.
Starring: Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson

February 29 | 8 pm
Penny Serenade
Dunne and Grant are about to divorce. Playing phonograph records, the wife recalls in flashbacks the happiness and heartache of her marriage.
Starring: Cary Grant, Irene Dunne

March 7 | 8 pm
The Lady Eve
Many call this the perfect romantic comedy. Aboard a ship, a naïve, inexperienced wealthy fellow becomes fascinated with a con girl.
Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn

March 14 | 8 pm
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
This sparkling, and at times poignant, romance is about a free-spirited young lady from the hinterlands who redefines herself in New York and falls for an aspiring writer.
Starring: Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Mickey Rooney

March 21 | 8 pm
Letter from an Unknown Woman
Fontaine harbours a teenage crush on her neighbour, a famous concert pianist. Later, he adds her to his long list of conquests―and forgets about her until….
Starring: Joan Fontaine, Louis Jourdan

April 4 | 8 pm
The Enchanted Cottage
A disfigured war pilot retreats to an isolated cottage. A plain, painfully shy woman is also hiding from the world’s cruelty. The unwanted loners befriend each other, agree to marry, and find that their love unexpectedly transforms them.
Starring: Dorothy McGuire, Robert Young, Herbert Marshall

April 11 | 8 pm
To Have and Have Not
Bogart’s a sailor uninterested in the war, until the luminous Bacall appears at his doorway and persuades him to take on a dangerous smuggling job.
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Walter Brennan

Royal Alberta Museum | 102 Ave. & 128 St. | 780-439-5285
For more information on the series, visit the website.


Take a Spa Day at a Hammam in Edmonton

During the prolonged Edmonton winter, it can feel like the cold is seeping into your bones and making your skin dry and itchy. The best remedy? A luxurious steam and scrub in a traditional Middle Eastern bath called a hammam, of course! And you don’t have to venture far to find one — we have two options right here in Edmonton.

The Ritual
Also called a Turkish or Roman bath, the hammam is part of a ritual that began in the Roman city of Constantinople. When the Ottoman Turks conquered the city in 1450 (and renamed it Istanbul), they imported their own bathing customs and eventually merged these customs with the Roman ones to create the cleansing tradition called hammam — or spreader of warmth.

Historical hammams throughout the Middle East are elegant marble and stone structures with high-domed ceilings, sweeping arches and elaborately carved columns. The treatment areas feature heated marble, often inlaid with geometric mosaics in shades of blue, green, or grey. Inside the cavernous, warmly lit space, it’s easy to close your eyes and travel back to an age of grandeur and indulgence.

Istanbul is where I first encountered — and adored — the hammam experience, which involves several stages: steam, scrub, and rinse (sometimes followed by massage).

The Edmonton Experience
In Edmonton, the Healing Waters Spa on Whyte Avenue and Kaya Kama Hammam and Day Spa on 34 Avenue offer this traditional experience, though on a smaller scale and with a few adaptations. For example, traditional hammams are community gathering places, with multiple bathers enjoying the ritual at once. In contrast, Edmonton’s hammams prioritize privacy.

Healing Waters provides robes and wraps for the steam room, and private body parts are covered with towels during the body scrub and rinse. “The estheticians are aware that not all people are comfortable in these situations and are respectful of the client’s modesty,” says Carla Pichonsky, the owner, manager, and an esthetician at the spa. At Kaya Kama, clients receive disposable undergarments that are mandatory for males and optional for females.

Although the physical grandeur of the original hammams can’t be duplicated here, they’re still incredibly relaxing and a unique experience that’s definitely worth trying!

Healing Waters Spa
Pichonsky, who has owned Healing Waters Spa for five years, says their hammam service “is a calming and cleansing treatment… we don’t call it a bath because people [incorrectly] assume we have tubs.”

The service begins with a cozy Epsom salt foot soak — the perfect remedy for frozen toes — before a half-hour steam in the private hammam room. A revitalizing full-body salt or sugar scrub on a heated marble surface exfoliates and stimulates the skin. After a gentle rinse, the finishing flourish is a warm lotion application to replenish moisture. The earth-toned tile work and soft candlelight create a serene ambience that will help you forget the cold outside.

The Healing Waters hammam is a relaxation experience, but it’s more than that. Pichonsky says, “The salt scrub is invigorating and helps renew the skin [and] the steam will soothe sore muscles and detoxify the body.”

Kaya Kama Hammam & Day Spa
Shiv Arora, owner and manager of Kaya Kama, opened the spa with his wife Anju in 2006. He says she had a desire to “calm and serve people [and] feels she has ‘a Turkish soul’,” so they included a hammam in the spa. Arora explains that it “cleanses the exterior body and detoxifies the interior body [so it’s] a holistic treatment that’s also luxurious.”

Arora says that the spa focuses on providing complete relaxation. “We don’t try to rush things. We take our time.” The treatment begins in the glass-enclosed, high-intensity steam chamber in the hammam room. Eucalyptus in the steam removes toxins from the body, and the steam itself opens the pores. During the session, which lasts about 20 minutes, the client controls the temperature from inside the chamber.

The skin-cleansing scrub takes place on a heated concrete bed with a smooth epoxy coating. Middle Eastern-style lanterns cast low ambient light. The imported black Moroccan soap contains mineral clay called rassoul. It’s olive oil based, so
it moisturizes without harsh chemicals. The esthetician exfoliates the skin with a coarse fibre glove called a kessa, and the final rinse reveals supple skin.

After the treatment, clients can enjoy sipping masala chai, juice, or mineral water and nibbling on a cookie or chocolate in the lounge. —Tracey L. Anderson

Healing Waters Spa | 10740-82 Ave. | 780-988-7873
Hammam treatment: 90 minutes, $180
Hammam packages with additional services available; couples accommodated.

Kaya Kama Hammam & Day Spa | 9328-34 Ave. | 780-988-5554
Hammam treatment: 30-40 minutes, $79.95
Hammam packages with additional services available; couples accommodated.

Mention this article when booking at Kaya Kama to receive a 25% discount on your hammam service!

5 Spots for Brunch in Edmonton


Photo by Jennifer Linford.

1. MEAT offers brunch dishes with savoury, smoked meats, including the classic Southern Grits with sausage gravy, a poached egg, and its city-famous brisket.
8216-104 St. | 587-520-6338

2. Satisfy your brunch cravings at Blue Plate Diner with all the fixings in the Gonzo: fresh eggs, tasty sausages, crisp bacon, house-recipe potatoes, and grilled grapefruit!
10145-104 St. | 780-429-0740

3. Family-friendly Cora serves the most important meal of the day with heaping sides of fresh fruit, whether you’re ordering a savoury crêpe or its signature Eggs Ben et Dictine.
#111, 2920 Calgary Tr. | 780-465-2672

4. In a Parisian setting, enjoy a chic petit déjuner at Café Bicyclette with a scrumptious Croissant Sandwich made with eggs and Gruyère cheese or smoked salmon.
8627-91 St. | 587-524-8090

5. Not only can you enjoy a delicious breakfast pizza at Rosso Pizzeria, but you can also order all the brunch goods — fire-roasted potatoes, fennel sausage, poached eggs — cooked up in a cast iron skillet!
8738-109 St. | 780-433-5382

Artist Profile: Dana Holst


Dana Holst and her work. Photo by Lindsay Shapka.

Now based in Edmonton, artist Dana Holst received a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Waterloo, and has made her career working in painting, drawing, and printmaking. Her work can be found in both public and private collections in North America, and explores issues of social stereotyping, female bullying, and attacks against individuality and sexuality.

While she admits that her work can sometimes take an autobiographical turn, Holst’s art is ultimately an investigation into the human experience, and she draws inspiration from vintage photographs, news clippings, and modern-day social conflicts. Her figures are often dressed in ultra-feminized clothing with menacing emotions, or look beautiful and peaceful but are placed in a disturbing scene.

You can see her latest solo exhibition, She’s All That, at the Art Gallery of Alberta until February 15. The show contains a series of oil paintings and encaustic drawings (pictured) that focus on the complexity of female identity. The works are divided into two rooms representing both the public and personal faces of female identity.

Visit danaholst.com for more information on the artist’s future exhibitions. —Lindsay Shapka

She’s All That | Through February 15
Art Gallery of Alberta | 2 Sir Winston Churchill Sq., 99 St. & 102A Ave. | 780-422-6223

Ice on Whyte in Edmonton


Photo courtesy of Ice on Whyte.

In the heart of Old Strathcona is one of the city’s most popular winter festivals! On top of live entertainment, a giant ice slide, and cool activities, this festival hosts an International Ice Carving Competition that attracts artists from as far away as Russia, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Mexico! This year, ten teams will compete in the professional category, and five will compete in the novice category.

For its 13th year, the festival will host an early Mardi Gras celebration with a parade at 1 pm on January 21. Families can enjoy great activities all day, including crafts, games, storytelling, and a magic show! If you get a little chilled while exploring, you can quickly warm up with a hot chocolate in the heated cafe.

Ice on Whyte | January 21 – 24 & 28 – 31
End of Steel Park | Gateway Blvd. & Tommy Banks Way

Best Restaurants for Business in Edmonton

Great Spots to Get Work Done
You can’t accomplish much on an empty stomach! Grab a table at one of these intimate restaurants, where the quiet atmosphere allows you to focus and there’s enough room to spread out.

Cibo Bistro
11244-104 Ave. | 780-757-2426
The cozy, relaxed atmosphere makes this a great place to grab a single table and treat yourself to hand-rolled pasta. Nibble at fresh Formaggi or a plate of house-cured Salumi while you finish that report!

10542 Jasper Ave. | 780-757-6758
Tuck up to the bar, turn on your tablet, and unwind at this amiable spot to get stuff done. Their lunch options — with three choices of soup and tasty sandwiches on warm ciabatta buns — will motivate you to power through your prep work before an afternoon meeting.

10200-102 Ave. | 780-990-0188
At this sleek, urban lounge, you can enjoy some delicious Asian-fusion cuisine, perhaps while you work on fusion projects of your own. The spicy Ginger Chicken Bowl or Mediterranean Pork Belly will keep you content even if you’re suffering under a pile of spreadsheets.


Where to Meet a Client
The atmosphere and meals at these restaurants will impress your clients and make for a memorable and productive meeting.

Confederation Lounge
Fairmont Hotel Macdonald 10065-100 St. | 780-424-5181
Ever a charming spot since it opened in 1915, the Confederation Lounge offers impressive décor and food. Enjoy premium cocktails and Alberta classics, such as the Bacon Wrapped Wild Game Meatloaf with thyme whipped potatoes and black currant jus.

HardwareGrillFoodHardware Grill
9698 Jasper Ave. | 780-423-0969
You’ll be sure to make a good impression with the remarkable atmosphere at Hardware Grill. The contemporary and whimsical prairie flavours, which shine in dishes such as the Applewood Smoked Salmon with truffle-potato perogies and a grainy mustard-cream sauce, are a delight for anyone who enjoys a traditional, delicious meal.

The Marc
9940-106 St. | 780-429-2828
The casual setting and relaxed dress code at this fine-dining restaurant will make clients feel incredibly comfortable. And when they enjoy their Duck Breast expertly prepared with grilled scallion, smoked fennel, and parsnip purée or the Confit Lamb Shoulder with heirloom carrots, turnips, and pearl onions, you know they’ll be pleased enough to seal any deal.


Table for One? No Problem!
Though you feel comfortable travelling alone, it can still feel awkward eating alone. These exceptional restaurants have great seating for lone diners, and they offer food so delicious, you’ll be raving about your life-changing meal to family and friends later!

TresCarnalesTres Carnales Taqueria
10119-100A St. | 780-429-0911
As they serve some of the most popular tacos in town, it can be quite a wait for a table at this hot spot. But if you come alone, you can sneak a chair at the end of a long table and be quickly on your way to chowing down on appetizing Carnitas Tacos and house-made Guac with a cold cerveza.

The Burger’s Priest
10148-109 St. | 780-760-0777
This classic cheeseburger joint offers heavenly meals of burgers and fries. Challenge yourself to eat the Vatican City — a double cheeseburger between two grilled cheese buns — and you won’t have to feel so sinful because only you and your server will know how many calories were consumed.

10522-124 St. | 780-485-6125
At this casual and hip diner, you can tuck right up to the long bar and sample any of the mouth-watering items the menu has on offer. Though it changes with the season, the unique flavours and artisan ingredients — imagine smoky maple syrup — will have you dreaming about your meal for days.


Privacy Please
These restaurants offer not only fantastic food and service, but also private rooms that will allow you to get down to business without interruption from fellow guests.

Creations Dining Room & Lounge
4235 Gateway Blvd.
Capacity: 75
Reserve: 780-989-4439

Madison’s Grill & Vintage Room
10053 Jasper Ave.
Capacity: 200
Reserve: 780-401-2222

Vons Steak House and Oyster Bar
10309-81 Ave.
Capacity: 60
Reserve: 780-439-0041

10177-107 St.
Capacity: 35
Reserve: 780-702-0330

Ampersand 27
10612 Whyte Ave.
Capacity: 24
Reserve: 780-757-2727


5 Spots to Watch the Game
Whether you need to cheer on your team, catch the hard hits at a UFC match, or witness that unbelievable pass, these spots are guaranteed to have that can’t-miss game on at least one screen.

1. Fionn MacCool’s
Edmonton City Centre | 10200-102 Ave. | 780-435-6796
2. 1ST RND
West Edmonton Mall | 8882-170 St. | 780-487-4600
3. Central Social Hall
10909 Jasper Ave. | 780-705-1900
4. Kelly’s Pub
10156-104 St. | 780-451-8825
5. Schanks Sports Grill
9927-178 St. | 780-444-2125


—Matthew Stepanic

Ask the Expert: Les Clefs d’Or Corner (January/February 2016)


Photo by Jamie Tweedy of Tweedy Studios.

We asked Edmonton expert and Les Clefs d’Or Nella Mirante at The Westin Edmonton for her advice about winter festivals and Valentine’s Day in the city!

1. It’s cold outside, and there’s nothing better than escaping the chill for a spa day! Do you have a favourite spot that you send clients to?
I love to send my guests to Studio J Urban Spa. If you are looking to get spoiled like a star or to warm up, escape with one of their hot stone massages or enjoy a therapeutic deluxe manicure and pedicure!

2. Valentine’s Day is coming soon! Where can we buy great gifts for our loved ones?
My favourite one-stop shop? Jacek Chocolates! The chocolate collections are luxurious and special, and you may even get to sample a few yourself!

3. A lot of visitors are in town for their kid’s sports tournaments that take them to the edges of the city. Where is a great spot to grab lunch in the south? West? North?
When sports team tournaments come into town, my top recommendations are:
South: Five Guys Burgers and Fries located at 10161-13 Ave. (vegetarian options are available)
West: Famoso Pizzeria located at 8882-170 St.
North: Old Spaghetti Factory located at 10220-103 Ave.

4. What is your favourite festival or show to see in the new year?
What I enjoy most is the Ice on Whyte Festival; it’s a fun-filled festival with live music from Alberta artists and incredibly creative ice carvers. You can learn to ice sculpt in a mini igloo and indulge in the outdoor food court!

Les Clefs d’Or Concierges have been opening doors for hotel guests in Canada since 1976, and today there are more than 150 members from coast to coast and more than 3,500 members worldwide!

Edmonton’s Best New Restaurants 2015

Best New Restaurant

1st: The Workshop Eatery
The overall winner for 2015, this brand new rustic space is the brainchild of Chef Paul Shufelt who was formerly the man behind the menus at Century Hospitality Group. While Shufelt admits that starting his own restaurant has been a lot of work, he is excited about the freedom it is giving him to put his talent behind a menu that is all his own. “The idea [with the menu] is to really focus on the seasons… there’s a time of year for certain ingredients. You shouldn’t be eating corn on the cob in February or strawberries in March.” The menu will change every few months, and new features each day highlight fresh ingredients sourced locally. Garden beds located just outside the restaurant are planted in the summer to make up parts of various dishes, and all jams, jellies, pickles, preserves, ketchup, and dressings are made in house, from scratch. And, in the summer, bees located on the roof of the building provide fresh honey! If you can book ahead of time, the
best seat in the house is, without a doubt, at the chef’s table where you can watch as the kitchen goes off-menu, creating culinary masterpieces using whatever is in the fridge or the pantry at the time. —Lindsay Shapka


Photo by Jamie Tweedy.

2nd: NongBu Korean Eatery
Located in a modern, industrial space, this authentic spot offers a fresh take on Korean street food. Don’t let the names of the dishes intimidate you — the amiable servers are happy to explain everything down to the best way to eat your meal. The names will soon roll off your super-pleased tongue once you try the slow-braised pork shoulder Ssam (lettuce wraps, which you stuff with steamed rice, sliced garlic, cucumber, and chili paste) and the Spicy DdukBboKki (chewy rice sticks in a tasty hot sauce). Between bites, enjoy delightful Banchan, which are little nibbles like kimchee and spicy Korean radish made to refresh your palette. In the evening, the menu expands to offer more tasty street eats that pair well with a refreshing K-Pop Cocktail or a light Korean beer. —Matthew Stepanic

3rd: Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen
In November, the iconic Alberta Hotel welcomed new tenant Chef Spencer Thompson of Toast Fine Catering, which serves tasty eats at the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market. He’s maintained the historic décor, while reviving this Edmonton institution with fine yet simple Alberta dishes with a farm-to-fork concept. Some divine cocktails have been crafted for the menu, including The Absent Sun, which is a bright and fragrant mix of vodka, chartreuse, and grapefruit bitters. In this elegant space, you can dine on the stunning Pembina Pork Cheeks served over a decadent buttermilk polenta, with tomato jam, wild mushrooms, arugula, and pecorino. Finish your meal with the delightful Cheesecake served on an almond sponge with a tart red currant jelly and lemon curd. —M.S.

Best New Grab & Go


Photo by Aspen Zettel.

1st: Sandwich & Sons
The latest venture of Chef Alex Sneazwell, this traditional-style deli serves up hefty sandwiches with sides of fresh chips and zippy pickles. Its plump Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich is a clear winner: layers of juicy, smoked brisket, and house-made mustard and sauerkraut set between two slices of soft marble rye bread. Order a side of nostalgia with their pumped-up childhood classics: Fried Bologna on soft sourdough or a three-cheese Grilled Cheese with an artichoke spread. Hot tips: buy a jar of pickles to enjoy later or have them cater your next lunch meeting! —M.S.

2nd: Urbano Pizza Co.
From culinary duo Christina Mena and Lino Oliveria comes this quick and exciting meal concept: flash-fired pizzas! In less than 120 seconds, the specialty ovens will pop out a pizza with only your chosen toppings, from grilled eggplant to shoestring potatoes. The customizable pizzas are ideal for celiacs and vegans, but you can also try signature options such as Piri-Piri Chicken and Bacon & Eggs! —M.S.

3rd: Dovetail Delicatessen
In the spring, Nevin and Kara Fenske, owners of the popular Drift Food Truck, opened a delightful wheel-free home, which offers up delectable sandwiches made with daily roasts and house-made condiments. Round out the perfect picnic or lunch with near-endless options (many of which are gluten-free or vegan): unique salads, fresh samosas, pork patés, potato crisps, and more! —M.S.

Best New Cafe

1st: Bru Coffee + Beer House
This fantastic spot is the winner of this category because it is the perfect place to grab a great coffee, breakfast sandwich, or afternoon pastry, but also serves craft beer and snacks when the sun goes down. The high ceilings and comfortable seating make it a great space to hang out with friends or get some work done while savouring your favourite brew. —L.S.

2nd: Coffee Bureau
It may be small (there are only a few coveted seats in the space), but this café knows what they’re doing. Their great-tasting coffee is perfect for your daytime fix, and they even have a few sweet treats that you can grab to-go as well! —L.S.

3rd: Lock Stock Coffee
Housed in a portion of the popular Red Star Pub, this space is the ideal place to grab a great coffee and have a quick meeting out of the office. There are lots of tables, and the dark, wood-lined walls make it feel especially cozy on cold winter days. —L.S.

Talent Spotlight: Darrin Hagen and Trevor Schmidt


Darrin Hagen. Photo courtesy of TelusTV.

Our editorial intern Tamara Aschenbrenner sat down with Darrin Hagen and Trevor Schmidt on December 1 to talk about their upcoming play Klondykes (at the Roxy on Gateway from February 4 to 21). Read the extended interview below and the article in the January/February 2016 issue to learn more about these local talents and their experiences in Edmonton.

WHERE: What do you love most about writing and performing in plays?

Trevor Schmidt: I’ll answer honestly, because I believe that honesty is the best policy. My mother taught me that. I’m a bit of a control freak, so directing and writing mean that I have control over every aspect of it. I very often visualize something in a larger sense from the very beginning, at the conception of the project. So to know that we can control that is of great assurance to me…


Trevor Schmidt. Photo by Ian Jackson.

Darrin Hagen: And we totally understand each other. He talks about control, and it’s interesting because most of the shows we write together, we’re actually on stage together as well, so that control actually extends to the final bow of the final night. Other tours don’t have that. Because we’re on stage together, the script can actually keep evolving as we’re learning more about the pace of the show. And we’re at the point now where, I can hear him take a breath to go to speak for the moments we have to speak together, and we don’t even have to look at each other. We just know when that moment is.

TS: It’s interesting. We worked together for the first time about eighteen—

DH: —thousand years ago.

TS: Really long ago. And I wasn’t a fan.

DH: We didn’t get along.

TS: I was not a fan of his. And then I got asked to do a project with him, and I didn’t really want to do it. I had some preconceived notions as to how it would go. But I needed some money, and I knew they were doing really well at the Fringe. So I thought, I’ll take the money and run. I ended up having a really good time, and since then we’ve worked together constantly. We don’t fight.

DH: We disagree a lot.

TS: When we first started working together, people thought we must’ve been sleeping together or we must’ve been having terrible, terrible fights. And neither of those were true. Darrin has too much respect for me to sleep with me, and I don’t have enough for him. (Laughs.) People think we fight all the time, and we really don’t. I’m lucky because Darrin lets me bully him.

DH: When we first started to know each other, I didn’t like him. And now he’s fine.

TS: I think we trust each other’s instincts very much. We do respect each other.

DH: As a writer, I’ve never met another actor who I can give a first draft to, and Trevor can read it cold and he understands implicitly my rhythms and my timing. When I hand stuff over to Trevor, I trust whatever comes back to me because I know he gets where I’m going. It’s always going to be better. I don’t need to fix it… Directing is relatively new to me. I haven’t directed many pieces. I’ve only directed when I’ve had to, but I’m starting to enjoy it. I’m not as control freaky as Trevor is about the bigger picture. He’s got a really good design eye. He does set design, while I’m more sound design, so it’s a much different approach. But in terms of writing up until the performing, it was something that I was doing before he joined up with me.

W: Have you started direction on Klondykes?

DH: We’re still creating it. It opens in six weeks and we’re still creating it.

TS: We’re constantly changing things, writing things. We even had a conversation this morning, talking about working on this song and that song.

DH: We’re even still researching and finding out stuff about the Yukon at this point… But that’s kind of how we do the Fringe. The show doesn’t really finish until it’s on stage. And even then, we’re still changing stuff.

TS: It was going to be us, so there’s a short character and there’s a tall character. Then along the way, it kind of shifted and we went, Maybe this isn’t a campy comedy, maybe this is something a little deeper.

DH: As soon as there are guys in drag, there’s a statement. So as soon as you pull us out of the cast and decided to go with women cross-dressing, instead of men cross-dressing as women cross-dressing as men, then suddenly that removal completely changed the whole intent of the cross-dressing, of the transformation they undergo. I think camp lives more in the world as men dressing as women than it does in the world of women dressing as men. Even though they’re both a transformation, camp is much more about—

TS: Women dressed as men doesn’t seem as funny to me.

DH: It seems more serious business. Even to the practitioners, it seems like more serious business. I’m generalizing big time. For every person who cross dresses, there’s a different motivation. But Trevor and I have actually done a lot of research on drag and gender… and issues of politics and gender… So this is really just a natural step and maturation of the themes that we’re been working on in terms of men cross-dressing, but now it’s women posing as men. And they’re lesbian characters, too. This is the second or third time we’ve tackled lesbian characters, isn’t it?… Our work, it’s not just about men in dresses. It’s not just about being gay.

W: You mentioned that the intent for Klondykes is different from what you’ve done before. Can you talk more about that?

DH: I think if it were to be me and Trevor in the roles, it would have been more spoofy. The nature of drag changes considerably, taken in by the audience. It allowed us to go a lot more into two really fascinating women, and to actually do a real piece of history. Back during the Gold Rush, women were not allowed into the North unaccompanied. They had to be accompanied by a man. It’s really a feminist tale, in a way, because they managed to buck that system to get up there.

TS: About three-quarters of the show is funny and raunchy, a little bit naughty. But at about the three-quarter mark, there’s a change to something that’s emotional. You don’t really get that from a campy piece. This is about real women.

DH: So even if a real woman does a raunchy burlesque number, in a Klondike kind of context, it’s going to be a much different experience for the viewer, than it would be if a guy did it. Because it might be funny and raunchy, but the fact is that she’s a prostitute and her life’s not great… But, again, we’re speculating. It’s less about the jokes, but there will totally be moments of humour… It’s more like an album that tells a story…

TS: It’s a lot about being an outsider, and people pretending to be something that they’re not.

DH: And people escaping to the North. They don’t just go to the North, they escape to the North. My first trip up the Yukon was with my husband, and we drove all the way up there in the summertime, and everyone we met was from somewhere else. They were all going up there to escape something. Our characters are very much like that. Things are not going very well for them in the world of men and the world of cities in Canada, so they decide to stake out into the unknown… Anything is better than where they are. It’s all about escaping… Ultimately, the interesting thing between the two main characters is they get up there, and one of them, this world works for her. The more masculine of the two. She’s in an environment where a masculine woman doesn’t get treated like a freak. The other one, who’s more of a traditional woman, finds it really difficult to be in a place that’s so geared towards the masculine, and immediately starts to question her choices. So ultimately, we get to hit the transgender nail on the head, too. We have a woman who’s cross-dressing as a man, not because she feels like she’s a man, although there’s a bit of that in her already, but because it’s the way she can escape. When she gets up there, you’d expect her to become a woman again, but then she actually she finds that she prefers to be a man, to be seen as a man. So it’s not really transgender, but it’s definitely a view of gender. I do love that Trevor and I have explored, between the two of us, more variations of gender and transgender and cross-dressing probably than any other artist in western Canada. Maybe even in the country. Every year, we come up with a new tweak on it.

TS: It’s a lot about identity, about figuring out who you are, how you relate to others. I think Klondykes particularly questions, “How can I be happy?”

DH: And how does what you present to the world changes how the world treats you. I think that’s something I’ve definitely learned in my career and in my life, starting off as a drag queen in the 80s and becoming an artist of a little more significance. I had to act like an artist before people would treat me like an artist. Even though I thought I was an artist, but I was a drag queen, and I was of sorts. I took it really seriously and I worked hard at it, but it was nothing like the kind of creation you go through when you’re actually creating theatre. I do love the themes of transformation. I love when people play something other than themselves…

W: What do you love most about working and living in Edmonton?

DH: I love this town. I wasn’t going to stay here when I first moved here in 1982. Good things keep happening to me here. Without the Fringe, the Edmonton arts would be a much different thing. [The Fringe] was a great place to take a first step. I look at it like a giant artistic incubator.

TS: There’s a very vibrant theatre community. I think, in many ways, it’s very supportive. Every company is very supportive of each other, but not to the degree that you’re not challenging each other to do better every time. I don’t need people to be nice about my work. I need people to appreciate it and talk about it.

W: What would you recommend to people who are new to Edmonton?

TS: We recommend the theatre scene. There’s something for everyone, no matter what your tastes or your styles are. If they want to try a sample platter, you can contact 6-Pack.

DH: You actually get to sample different shows from different theatres… I would also say to plan your vacation for the summertime because the Fringe is on. The Fringe is spectacular.

TS: There are tons of festivals in the summer. And I’m going to say it, I know it’s not popular, but you have to go to West Edmonton Mall. When you’re from out of town, West Edmonton Mall is pretty great… There’s also a great restaurant scene happening here.

W: Any restaurants in particular that you enjoy?

DH: For me, the Bistro Praha has been my favourite restaurant for about 30 years. Kevin and I had our first date there.

TS: God, I didn’t know that was why you loved it.

DH: (Laughs.) Trevor hates sentimentalism.

TS: I like this small little place called Tapavino. I love Sabor Divino downtown.

DH: I’m talking about Edmonton classics!

TS: I like a lot of this new movement in restaurants.

DH: And I’m a big fan of the classics.

TS: I’m trying to stay young.

Edmonton’s Best New Restaurant 2015: Workshop Eatery


Photo by Lindsay Shapka.

The overall winner for 2015, this brand new rustic space is the brainchild of Chef Paul Shufelt who was formerly the man behind the menus at Century Hospitality Group. While Shufelt admits that starting his own restaurant has been a lot of work, he is excited about the freedom it is giving him to put his talent behind a menu that is all his own. “The idea [with the menu] is to really focus on the seasons… there’s a time of year for certain ingredients. You shouldn’t be eating corn on the cob in February or strawberries in March.”

The menu will change every few months, and new features each day highlight fresh ingredients sourced locally. Garden beds located just outside the restaurant are planted in the summer to make up parts of various dishes, and all jams, jellies, pickles, preserves, ketchup, and dressings are made in house, from scratch.

And, in the summer, bees located on the roof of the building provide fresh honey! If you can book ahead of time, the best seat in the house is, without a doubt, at the chef’s table where you can watch as the kitchen goes off-menu, creating culinary masterpieces using whatever is in the fridge or the pantry at the time. —Lindsay Shapka

Workshop Eatery | 2003-91 St. SW | 780-705-2205

For a complete list of all of our picks for fantastic new spots to eat in Edmonton, visit the blog here.