All hail the Texas Chili Queen.
Edie Eclat, also known as Edward Hamilton, is the enormously fabulous, elbow-greasing, food truck owner of Texas Chili Queens – a delicious Austin staple that has made waves throughout food lovers in the Capital City. Feeding hungry queens is the name of the game, and this chili queen is serving up a variety of chili dishes, all named after Texas towns.
Inspired by the Original Chili Queens of San Antonio, Edie is not only serving us face, honey, she is serving HERstory. We here at DSD were thrilled to have scored some time with Edie herself to chat about those lovely ladies of San Antonio, her Big Apple past, and where that truck of hers is heading to next.
Drag Star Diva: First up, who are the Texas Chili Queens?
Edie Eclat: The Texas Chili Queens is the world’s most fabulous food truck. As far as we can tell on Google, we’re the only drag queen food truck in the world! Definitely the only drag queen chili food truck. We serve delicious food with a fun twist!
DSD: How did this all begin?
EE: This began when the founder and owner, Edward Hambleton, learned about the history of the chili queens from San Antonio in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Inspired by the chili queens, Ed thought it would be fun to bring back the chili queen ethos with a new kind of queen.
DSD: Food trucking queen? In Texas? That’s a business model we live for! What has the reception been like?
EE: The reception has been positive at the truck. Some people get into it more than others. Some people are simply ordering their meal, and that’s fine. Other people really enjoy and respond well to the humor and spice of the queens. There really hasn’t been any negativity during service at the truck.
DSD: What was is about chili in particular that became your staple?
EE: Chili is the state dish of Texas and arguably the original Texas street food. When we were doing our research before launching, there was no other food truck in the Capital City that focused on chili. We decided the original street food deserved its own truck in this city silly with food trucks. Our menu consists of five different chili varieties (one being vegan) that can be served on their own, or five different ways (i.e. Frito pie). Even though our menu is focused, there are lots of different options for every taste and diet. We also rounded out our menu with some savory sides and sweets. We make a delicious pea salad (another Texas classic), in addition to potato salad and a macaroni salad with pimentos. Our sweets are jellos, because who doesn’t love something congealed!
DSD: Originally a Texan, you lived in NYC for a while. What brought you back to the Lone Star State?
EE: It was just the right time in my life to return to Texas. I returned for personal reasons.
DSD: What is Frito Pie Thanksgiving?
EE: The Frito Pie Thanksgiving was a fun way for everyone at my previous job to get acquainted (or re-acquainted) with this classic Texas dish. Everyone contributed by bringing some part of the meal, while I was responsible for the chili. It was during research for that recipe that I stumbled across the history of the chili queens. I had made chili before and had an amateur culinary background, but that was the catalyst.
DSD: The Texas Chili Queens has some deep roots. Tell us their HERstory ?
EE: The original chili queens of San Antonio were enterprising women who became something of a cultural phenomenon during their heyday. They are discussed at length in the chapter on chili powder in historical gastronomist Sarah Lohman’s book, Eight Flavors.
DSD: You set up shop in Austin. What was it about the city that made you want to call it home?
EE: We wanted to do our part to “keep Austin weird,” and the founder/owner Edward Hambleton was born in Austin (although raised in Dallas). During his childhood, he had family in Austin that his family would visit and spend time with. As an adult, he began visiting his family again and fell in love with the scale and pace of the city. It was a welcome change from New York City.
DSD: Has Drag always been a part of your life?
EE: As a child, I would run around in sheets and heels. I never got into makeup as a child. During high school, my friends and I were inspired by the movie (and music of) Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I dressed up as Hedwig (the Sugar Daddy waitress outfit with silver lamé) for the Oak Lawn Halloween Parade in Dallas. I attended my junior prom in drag (makeup courtesy of the MAC counter) and was voted prom princess. The pictures exist, but I hadn’t blocked my eyebrows because the makeup was done at the mall. I took a drag hiatus during college and for five years afterward, donning a dress to bring Edie and the Texas Chili Queens to life.
DSD: When was your first time dressed in drag?
EE: I suppose that would be some time in high school. Maybe the Hedwig look when I was a sophomore?
DSD: Where does your Drag Character come from?
EE: Edie is kind of like a RuPaula Deen. She’s a fierce enlightened queen (thanks Ru) with a sweet southern charm and a heavy nasally accent (thanks Ms. Deen). She wants everyone to enjoy themselves and get some good eats.
DSD: How has drag helped your business?
EE: Drag has helped my business by giving the truck something unique. There are so many food trucks in Austin and the world, but we’re the only ones doing what we’re doing.
DSD: Do you think the Texas Chili’s Queens would have been so popular if it hadn’t gotten the drag treatment?
EE: It wouldn’t exist without the “drag treatment”! That’s the whole concept… [Noted, lol.]
DSD: Your variety of chilies are named after cities in Texas. Have the Texas Chili Queens hit all of the cities yet?
EE: We hit the five major Texas cities, including El Paso! If you want an empty extra boat, we call that the Lubbock.
DSD: Drag Star DIva is based out of Dallas. When can we expect a visit from you?
EE: We haven’t motored our truck all the way up I-35 yet. We’re looking into several metroplex opportunities. Stay tuned!
DSD: What’s next for this chili queen?
EE: A lady never reveals her plans! [Touche.]
DSD: Any full throttle brick-and-mortar restaurant plans? if so, where would you plant that flag?
EE: We’ll see what the future holds, but we really enjoy Austin…
DSD: Any Drag Race ambitions, an Iron-Chef-meets-Drag-Race maybe?
EE: Can you get Logo on the phone for me?? 😉
For More On This Queen Visit txchiliqueens.com
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Featured Photo: The Austin Chronicle Photo by John Anderson