You know his adorable face and boyish charm from Netflix’s reboot of Queer Eye. You may or may not have swooned at the sight of his band t-shirts emblazoned with rockers like The National and The Strokes. Antoni Porowski almost immediately won over the hearts (and stomachs) of America from the kitchen of the heroes featured on Queer Eye, and for good reason.
When the original Queer Eye for the Straight Guy aired on Bravo back in 2003, the Fab Five were pioneers in their own right, blazing through America’s televisions, connecting with the hearts of the many man who were brave enough to participate on the show. The new Queer Eye broadens the scope to include all walks of life, not just the straight men featured originally. The reboot’s style expert Tan France put it most poetically in the first episode of the show’s debut season saying, “The original show was fighting for tolerance. Our fight is for acceptance.”
The reboot features a different hero every episode and the experts assist them with style, beauty, interior design, culture and finally, food and drink. Food and drink can be tricky depending on where the hero is from and what type of life they lead. For Porowski, coming onto the show and working with such a range of people was somewhat of a challenge. “It’s definitely eye-opening to see the ways that other people live. Entertaining is something that’s really a luxury that we’re blessed to do,” he admits. “This isn’t something [the heroes] do on the weekends when they’re working three jobs and supporting 37 children–and that’s a close approximation,” he adds, jokingly referencing Bobby Camp, the hero featured in season one, episode five, who has a whopping six children.
On screen, Porowski has been seen making four-ingredient guacamole and also encouraging the heroes to spend time with their parents to learn family recipes. Part of this is to cater to their personal lifestyles, and to offer feasible recipes for after the cameras stop rolling. When it comes to entertaining for Porowski himself, he declares that at times he finds himself overcomplicating recipes, resulting in a stressful evening, something he tries to avoid. “In the summers, you can keep it really simple. You can do a simple crudité platter with some dips, and then something like a Cointreau cocktail,” he says. “Cocktails don’t have to be complicated when you’re using a high-quality ingredient, like a beautiful orange-infused liqueur, and then let’s say a tequila, and fresh lime juice. That’s all you need.”
After working alongside former Queer Eye food and wine expert Ted Allen, Porowski soaked in as much as he could about cooking and entertaining and from there, created a few signature trademarks of his own. “Ted and I are similar because if we’re making something, we spend the whole day thinking about it and looking up different ways to do it,” he says. “Ted tends to pick more laborious recipes some of the time and I try to really keep it simple and accessible; that’s just my thing and how I like to eat. If I want complicated, I’ll go to a restaurant,” he adds of the differences between him and his culinary mentor.
On the most memorable soirée Porowski has experienced, he recalls one hosted by Allen, that was a simple potluck barbecue. “The O.G. food and wine guy, Ted, hosted a barbecue for the other judges from Chopped and they each brought their own dish,” he tells me. From Amanda Freitag bringing lemon chicken to Aaron Sanchez offering beautiful steaks, Porowski says the evening was so memorable because each person was able to share a taste of each other’s creation. “To have everyone collaborating at a real, genuine potluck was the best. That’s the kind of thing I love,” Porowski says.
When it comes to entertaining (and making it as stress-free as possible), Porowski’s go-to tip is to create a food and drink pairing. Upon partnering with Cointreau, Porowski collaborated with the liqueur brand to host “The Art of the Mix” event, which featured ways to integrate food with drink in a meaningful way. “If I make a spicy margarita with Cointreau, I’ll make a beautiful spicy queso dip–my homage to JVN, Jonathan, my cast mate on Queer Eye, who is obsessed with queso,” he explains. “It’s about using the same ingredients in multiple ways to kind of accentuate the pairing,” he adds. Creating a food and drink pairing that has one ingredient woven throughout offers a memorable touch for your guests and makes the table feel a little more special.
With summer season in full bloom, Porowski tells me that another super simple trick to creating a beautiful ambiance at any sort of party is to use nature’s seasonal offerings. “Go to the farmer’s market, buy a flower you really like and throw some petals around! Be creative and keep it fresh,” he says.
From creating cohesive food and drink pairings to taking advantage of the seasonal greenery, Porowski knows how to entertain his friends and family while eliminating the stress of hosting. You can see him in action on Queer Eye on Netflix. Prepare to binge.