‘Queer Eye’s’ Antoni Porowski talks feelings and food at SU
'Queer Eye's' Antoni Porowski talks feels and food at SU
Antoni Porowski hates licorice but he loves fennel. His first concert was Dave Matthews Band. Service is his love language. One thing he learned in college was how to make risotto. He’s an extroverted introvert who would sometimes go home and cry into his pillow after a trying day of grappling with sudden, newfound fame as one of the Fab Five on Netflix’s Queer Eye.
Much like Queer Eye itself, Antoni Porowski’s cooking demonstration and Q&A session on Saturday, Oct. 20 in Goldstein Auditorium combined playful banter with from-the-heart musings on life.
Queer Eye puts a 2018 spin on Bravo’s original series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, a makeover reality-TV show which ran from 2003-2007. In the 2018 version, the cohort of five gay men refer to their subjects as “heroes.” Each member of the aptly named Fab Five uses their expertise – beauty, home décor, wardrobe, culture, and food – to help revitalize their hero’s life.
University Union partnered with the Traditions Commission – the planning organizations responsible for student entertainment events and Orange Central homecoming weekend respectively – to bring Porowski to Schine Student Center.
After Danny Higgins and Katie Dills won homecoming king and queen, Porowski strolled onto the stage in a black leather jacket over a t-shirt from Strong Hearts Café and greeted a loudly wooing crowd of Queer Eye fans. Before explaining the recipe, to the audience’s surprise, he invited Higgins and Dills on stage to help him prep the food. Higgins’ mouth dropped wider than it would need to be to eat a New York deli sandwich.
Porowski had Higgins and Dills cut carrots, almonds and dates while he demonstrated a simple vinaigrette recipe he frequently uses on Queer Eye: just olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon, honey and fresh parsley. He also showed how to supreme an orange – a spirited touch to a very Go Orange recipe adapted from one that will appear in his upcoming cookbook.
While chopping the parsley, the crowd cheered loudly. Humorously baffled, he said, “Do you guys like, never make food? It’s like that kid that always gets positive reinforcement from his parents – it’s tying your shoes. Everyone should do it.”
As a self-taught chef, he considers himself more of a home cook than anything else, but achievable recipes define his approach to cooking. “It doesn’t have to be complicated, it doesn’t have to be intimidating,” he said.
After he let Higgins and Dills taste the fruits of their labor – pun intended – Porowski sat down with Student Association President Ghufran Salih for a Q&A session. She asked him about what working on Queer Eye has been like, his new restaurant in New York City, Village Den, and the Fab Five’s group chat. He said there are a lot of gifs – pronouncing the word like ‘gift.’ But Porowski says they also use it as a forum to communicate about their heroes and for heartfelt conversations that no one but each other would understand.
“We’re going through this crazy insane thing together and we’re all so different,” he said. “Our goal is the same: to make an impact on these people’s lives.”
Once Salih ended her set of questions with a fun and quick lightning round, the floor opened to student questions. Someone asked Porowski what he had learned from his four other cast-mates. From Bobby Berk he learned that organization and peace of mind go together; from Karamo Brown he learned confidence; from Jonathan Van Ness he learned to always be comfortable with who you are; and, getting emotional, from Tan France he learned that positivity and gratitude will endure all struggles.
Salih followed up by asking what he learned from himself. He recalled how he used to cry watching TV shows as a kid.
“I used to think sensitivity was a weakness. But the more sensitive and vulnerable I am with our heroes, the more comfortable they are,” he said. “Yeah, I’m proud of the fact that I’m really sensitive.”
And for him, feelings and food intertwine. He offered some parting advice to often stressed and preoccupied college students before saying goodnight: “Whenever you have an opportunity, try to find these moments to break bread with family. Have those moments. It’s something that’s so important.”