Antoni Porowski Dishes on Queer Eye, Cooking and What’s In His Fridge
The Queer Eye star reveals which member of the Fab Five he’d most like to swap roles with, and the foods he refuses to eat (besides horse, of course).
Selecting your favourite Queer Eye castmate is like asking a doting mother-of-five to pick her favourite child: pretty much next to impossible. There’s Tan France, with his perfectly styled coif and knack for finding the most flattering silhouettes for every body type; Jonathan Van Ness, with his infectious optimism and unparalleled strut in five-inch heels; Bobby Berk, with his ability to do what the Fixer Upper folks do in literal days—and with 99 percent less shiplap; and Karamo Brown, who, with his winning smile and skill of breaking down even the most stone-cold introvert’s walls, is clearly the most objectively attractive of the bunch. (I said what I said.)
And then there’s Antoni Porowski, the Netflix series’ food-and-wine expert, who, since Queer Eye’s debut in 2018, has arguably inspired the most online chatter thanks to debates surrounding whether or not Greek yogurt (or any dairy product for that matter) belongs in guacamole.
But whatever you think of his cooking skills, there’s no doubt that Porowski is very, very good at his job (which, if you think about it, doesn’t always involve cooking): connecting with Queer Eye’s makeover subjects or “heroes” in a way that’s highly amiable, sensitive to their needs and empowers them, all while offering them the culinary building blocks required to get their diets (and lives) a little more on track. I discovered this during a recent meeting with Porowski in Toronto, where, despite the fact that he was in the midst of a whirlwind press tour for GE Appliances during which I was probably no less than his sixth media interview of the day, he was extremely personable, kind and just damn charming.
Porowski, who is Canadian, was in town to promote Café, GE’s new boutique line of design-forward, customizable appliances. (He loves the matte white fridge and cannot get enough of the built-in hot water dispensers.) So, naturally, I took the opportunity to pick his brain about his dream kitchen, what’s in his fridge and the scene from Queer Eye’s latest season that gets him the most misty-eyed.
On the items he always has stocked in his fridge:
I always have carrot, ginger and celery, because I use those for soups and stews but also for fresh juices. I love baby kale because it sits really well, whereas baby arugula and spinach tend to go bad a little faster. I’m usually travelling, so I like things that have a longer shelf life. And a lot of oat milk—I love oat milk. That’s my new obsession.
I also love dates. I get mine from Meladuco Farm in California, which does medjool dates. When they’re fresh, they’re really nice and soft, but when they start to go hard, I put them in the fridge and they stay really nice and firm. I love to have them with crunchy peanut butter or almond butter and a little bit of salt. Or with a little piece of cheese. I’m always snacking on them.
On the foods he refuses to eat (besides horse):
I’m going to tell you about a little traumatic experience I’ve never talked about before: when I was four years old, I was super obsessed with Nutella and my parents had some bread laying around and I made myself a Nutella sandwich. The bread that I grabbed was caraway bread, which Polish people eat a lot. Caraway bread does not go with Nutella. I felt sick, threw up and I wasn’t able to have caraway for a very long time. Another time, I had to stay away from barbeque pork for two years because I got a horrible stomach bug. But now I’m back and love it again, and will eat it in any shape or form.
On his dream kitchen:
If you would’ve asked me two months ago, I would’ve said a space that’s all black. But now I’m all about lightness. I was in Kyoto and Tokyo [earlier this year], and there’s something that I really loved about the light woods there. My life is so freaking crazy right now and I’m on a plane all the time, so when I’m home, I want it to be my sanctuary and I want it to be very peaceful. So I love the idea of having, like, matte white appliances with lighter woods—sort of a white-oak-type situation, where it’s not quite yellow but creamier—and it’s open and airy. It’s very calming and, being a manic person, I need that.
On binging Queer Eye as a member of the Fab Five:
It’s interesting watching it because everything gets edited. Our experiences [with the heroes] are so much longer than what is actually portrayed. So, when I saw the third season recently, I was paying less attention to my scenes and watching my castmates instead because we never know what the other guys are doing during filming. We have conversations about it, like “Today, Tan’s taking so-and-so to this store” and we’d see things on the call sheet.
But to actually see the experiences that they had—like seeing something that Karamo brought up that I had no idea about—and how everything comes together to tell this story is interesting. I remember, at one point, the guys were surprised that I had a conversation with Joey, the camp counselor [from season three’s second episode, “Lost Boy”], about something that nobody else had addressed. So it’s really cool to see the whole thing come together.
On the Queer Eye scene that gets him the most misty-eyed:
Seeing Mary [from season three’s third episode, “Jones Bar-B-Q”] get her new teeth. Because, when we met her, she smiled more than anybody we had ever met—I think all five of us thought that. And she just kept hiding herself and not even making eye contact. So seeing what a difference something cosmetic can make in someone’s life was big. It’s life-changing for her. She can smile freely now. And she’s someone who loves to smile—she should be able to do that without feeling shame about it. That was a total ugly-cry moment.
On swapping roles with a member of the Fab Five:
I’d love to switch spots with Bobby for an episode. I’ve always been obsessed with interiors and architecture, and I love furniture. I love French modern design from the ’40s and Italian lighting from the ’60s—those are things I’ve always nerded out about. I don’t know if I’d be very good at creating cohesive spaces because I love individual pieces, but that would be a fun challenge to take on. Bobby’s got an awesome team that helps him create these homes every week. It’s unbelievable how they do it. I would love to work with them and be able to create these mood boards. I feel like it’s such a fun, collaborative process.
On his next travel destination:
There’s a lot going on in Poland right now that’s really concerning, with a more conservative party coming in [to government] and trying to scale back policies—not unlike what’s going on in Ontario with the sex education and women’s reproductive rights. We’re sort of going back to the past with it; we’re not moving forward.
I think it’s definitely a lot more aggressive in Poland right now, where LGBTQIA youth are actually afraid for their lives. I would love to travel there to explore that, and see what I can do in terms of help and support. And my cultural identity as a Polish-Canadian has really shifted. I was ashamed of being Polish when I was growing up and now I’m more excited about it. So it would be lovely to do a bit of a homecoming and trace back my roots.
On the dish that’s most representative of him:
It would be the Polish Hunter’s Stew, which is sauerkraut, raw cabbage and five or six different types of meat. I sort of reinvent it with beef bourguignon techniques: instead of beer, I use red wine which is sweeter and more fruitful—more nuanced and less aggressive. It’s a dish that I hated as a kid. I was such a picky eater; I didn’t want anything that was Polish.
And now, as a 35-year-old man, I embrace my culture. So that’s a recipe that represents where I’m at right now—and it’s the ultimate comfort food for me. Whenever I can have a moment of self-care, where I’m at home for five minutes by myself, that’s what I want to eat.