Between filming, co-owning a restaurant (NYC clean-eating spot The Village Den), writing a soon-to-be-published cookbook and travelling the world, food expert and resident Canadian on Netflix’s Queer Eye Antoni Porowski has a lot on his plate (pun very much intended). And although his most recent trip to Toronto is, in fact, for work, the two days of R&R he has beforehand are a rarity. So naturally, the Montreal native is spending his downtime…doing intense workouts? “[My best friend and I] have been doing Barry’s Bootcamp classes, which is like self-care for me,” he tells us, grinning. “It’s nice to be told what to do for an hour. And then I can go to to restaurants like La Banane and have amazing food and eat whatever I want.”
Our conversation quickly turns to food, which is fitting as we’ve met Porowski, 35, at the Art Gallery of Ontario for the launch of bespoke appliance line Café, a line of bespoke appliances. We caught up with the star to chat about his kitchen must-haves, Queer Eye and his self-care tips.
What’s your favourite thing in your own kitchen?
A Le Creuset Dutch oven in a beautiful enamelled red. It’s the first kitchen piece that I ever bought for myself when I was a student at and I couldn’t afford anything else. It cost a third of my rent at the time, but now it’s chipped away and looks old and it’s aged on the inside. It looks like something Julia Child would have and I prize it.
What’s your fridge situation—what’s in it?
I make a pot of coffee every morning and I keep the leftovers in the fridge so I can have iced coffee because I’m a coffee fiend. I always have carrots, ginger, spinach, beets and celery because I’m a big juicer. I tend to put all my fibery stuff in the blender and make a little morning smoothie. And I always have offensive amounts of cheese.
What’s one thing people should always have stocked in their kitchen?
Citrus. Lemons, more than anything, are super important. I add lemon zest on pretty much everything, whether it’s savory or sweet—they add so much flavour. And also in the winter months, people should have bone broths in cartons—and vegetable for our vegan friends. But if you’re buying meat broth, one thing I learned from Ted Allen, when you’re comparing labels and looking at the nutritional content, look for broths that have four to five grams of protein as opposed to one. They’re usually the same price, but those ones are actually made with bones, so it’s not just water that’s flavoured.
What’s your first food memory?
No one’s ever asked me that before and you actually just gave me a chill. It’s a snack my mother would make: green apples, cut thin, soaked in lemon water so they wouldn’t get brown and then she’d put a slick of a firmer cheese or a really creamy Havarti. I love it to this day.
Unlike the first two seasons, you guys filmed Queer Eye season three after the show had already blown up and found this huge following. What were some of the challenges that came with that?
I received a lot of feedback from fans—“haters,” if you will—for the simplicity of some of dishes. When I went into this season, I had all these ambitious, super complicated ideas. Then the execs sort of came down on me like, “Antoni, this isn’t about you. It’s about helping these helping these people, and they’re not going to replicating these kinds of meals. It’s not the essence of the show.” I was really glad they had a come to Jesus talk with me because it was basically a reminder that I had to keep on doing what I was doing and it wasn’t about my ego.
You all do so much emotional labour on Queer Eye. How do you take care of yourself so that it’s not too draining?
The end of the week is always really rough because I get really close with people. I love people and I’ve always loved connecting with them. It’s hard saying goodbye because we become so in their lives over this short period of time and they open up to us so much. Tan [France] always knows when it’s time to go for Indian food, or to go get, like, queso at a Mexican restaurant, or I’ll cook. But he knows we need to spend time together. We call it “landing” because we’re coming from this very high emotional, almost manic, state and we have to land be with ourselves.
What’s your personal self-care routine?
Lush does these amazing little bath bombs that I love. I’ll also light a candle and have a whole nighttime skincare regimen that’s less about the products, but just more about having 10 minutes with myself. So I’ll apply lotions and listen to, like, Maggie Rogers or Miles Davis. Then I have this lavender pillow spray that I’ll use and it helps me sleep eight hours.
Shooting the show, you spend a lot of time in the car. What’s on the playlist?
We play a lot of Céline Dion in the mornings. If Jonathan [Van Ness] is feeling particularly something with his outfit, then it’s a lot of Nicki Minaj. I love Kid Cudi. For Tan it’ll be a lot Adele in the afternoons, especially when it’s raining—he likes to lean into the moodiness of it all. We all give each other time to play music, we’re actually very good at that even though we’re opinionated and have different tastes.
What accessories do you always have to have when you travel?
I have my nighttime spray from Ren, which is really awesome. Malin+Goetz has an awesome body moisturizer—I never moisturize anything but when I come off a plane I get dry AF and I have to do, like, a full body moisturizer before I go t sleep. I love any and all face masks. And the one thing I travel with all the time—my best friend and agent made fun of me for this—is a candle. I bring it to the hotel because I want it to smell like my home.
What’s the scent?
Right now, it’s a small-sized Byredo candle—Apocalyptic.