Everyone knows that when you go to any house party or visit someone’s home that the kitchen is the place where we all find ourselves—hungry or not.
So, it made sense for Elijah McKinnon to use the kitchen as a focal space in his new web series, Two Queens in the Kitchen, a “turn-to-relevance” nine-episode cooking show that brings together queens and queers of color to talk politics, art, performance, and, of course, food.
As the series premieres on OpenTV, an increasingly popular online platform that showcases web-based work that is made for and by queer people across the entire LGBTQ spectrum, Out chatted with the creator and director Elijah McKinnon about what inspired the web seires that hopes to stand out from any cooking show that came before it.
Out: What made you want to create an online series queering the kitchen? Most cooking shows are definitely not trying to take on the patriarchy, but it seems like having tough conversations while cooking was super intentional for you.
Elijah McKinnon: Oh, queering the kitchen...I love the sound of that! Let’s just queer up everything while we’re at! [Laughs] For as long as I can remember, a lot of my true moments of healing and joy have been connected to a home-cooked meal. My family owned a restaurant for 16 years and I managed to cycle through every role imaginable. I also grew up in a household with parents who were always cooking and entertaining friends, family, and everything in between. Food has always been a major part of my life.
Beyond that, I’ve always been deeply impacted by the power of gathering with folks who I share identities with—major bonus points if there is a good meal involved. There is something incredibly human about joining forces with someone to create a meal. From the project's inception, I knew that I wanted to produce a body of work that was heavy and relevant. Two Queens in a Kitchen is not your typical easy-bake-oven cooking show. The conversations are complex and difficult because those of us who occupy black and brown bodies or LGBTQ identities are not monolithic characters. Our references are challenging and rough around the edges. There is nothing easy or basic about our experience when we discuss our family, home life, politics, culture, or art.
Queer people have such interesting relationships to food—especially when we think about LGBTQ folks disproportionately affected by eating disorders. Why do you think food is such a powerful part of our lives?
I believe that we all have a strong relationship to food, especially queer LGBTQ-identified folks and people of color. [And] there is something really beautiful that happens when you give people the opportunity to actually be human and love one another. At a time when everyone is constantly talking at each other, Two Queens in a Kitchen is an opportunity to be quiet for one another. In particular, listening to queer of color artists who are routinely ignored by media.
Next season we’ll break out the ribs and mac n’ cheese! For now, we’re gonna keep it cute with fresh salads and “boogie” toast recipes while the host kiki about topics ranging from the movement for Black lives all the way to the power of the foreskin.
What can viewers expect to learn from the series?
Two Queens in a Kitchen is a web series designed to make space for the black and brown and queer folks of color to discuss the opinions and perspectives that are often erased from mass media. I'm beyond thrilled to share the beautiful narratives that unfolded once I got a gaggle of uber queer and queenly Chicago-based artists thriving at life in one room to chat about their respective political views, cultural competencies, and artistic practices.
Although our experiences, opinions and perspectives are often muted or manipulated, we are still here claiming the space that was never meant for us to access. I hope the viewers enjoy the nasty custom sound scape developed by Hijo Prodigo, get their life from all of the side-eye action, and most importantly, stop sleeping on Open TV’s thriving community of QPOC artists!
Bonus points for folks who take it to the next level and actually test out the recipes.
All nine episodes of Two Queens in the Kitchen’s first season can be watched on Vimeo starting August 23. Check out the first episode below:
Zach Stafford is editor at large of Out.