Entertainment

Queer Eye's Antoni Porowski on his insecurities, and how his Canadian roots helped shape his worldview

Fans of TV's Queer Eye are about to get to know Antoni Porowski even better through his new project, a deeply personal cookbook-slash-memoir.

New project is a deeply personal cookbook-slash-memoir

Antoni Porowski, from the Netflix series Queer Eye, credits his upbringing in culturally diverse Montreal for shaping his worldview, with his love of food from all over the world being a key part of that. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

You might not know who Antoni Porowski is by name, but chances are you know his show, Netflix's pop culture phenomenon Queer Eye.

Fans of the show are about to get to know him better through his new project, a deeply personal cookbook-slash-memoir, Antoni In The Kitchen.

"There's a lot of me in here," Porowski, told The National's Andrew Chang.  

"You know, Queer Eye has afforded us the opportunity to help perfect strangers and be of service to them. And then it's like this is my memoir, and these are the dishes … that have kept me alive, as food does in many ways."   

Queer Eye made its debut in February 2018.  It features five gay men, each with a special skill set — fashion, grooming, decor, culture, and Porowski's specialty, food and wine.  

The Montreal-born former actor is often described as the quietest member of the show's cast, known as the "Fab Five" to their fans. Despite the instant superstardom via the show and the heat generated by his Instagram account, Porowski admits to having had a serious case of imposter syndrome.

Antoni Porowski's latest project is a memoir-slash-cookbook called Antoni in the Kitchen. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

At the start of Antoni In The Kitchen, he questions whether he's enough of a foodie, or indeed openly gay enough, to be on the show.  

Porowski explained that he's had little in the way of formal culinary training. He added that he had also long resisted putting a label on his sexuality. 

  • WATCH: The National's interview with Antoni Porowski, Sunday night on CBC Television and streamed online

"I don't know if I've ever necessarily had a lot of the struggles that a lot of LGBTQIA+ youth have," Porowski said, adding that he had no formal coming out. He told his father via text message that he was seeing a man.

Queer Eye star Antoni Porowski describes why and how he decided to tell his father that he is gay. 0:44

"I've always known what I liked, I've always known that I was either queer or fluid. Those were the only two words that come as close to how I identify," he told Chang. 

"But I've always been very private about it. Everyone in my life just for the most part assumed that I was straight until I told them otherwise."

Reboot

Queer Eye is a reboot of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, a groundbreaking show that aired on the cable channel Bravo about 15 years ago. 

The original Queer Eye was primarily a makeover show, likely the first to put five openly gay men on TV, at a time when marriage equality in the United States was still a dream. (Fun fact: Porowski once worked as an assistant for the original Queer Eye's food and wine guy, Ted Allen.)

Queer Eyes stars Jonathan Van Ness, from left, Bobby Berk, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, and Karamo Brown arrive at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on Sept. 17, 2018. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/Associated Press)

The reboot takes things a bit further, putting the cast in the heart of what many people call Trump country and showing them building bridges over the social divides.

Porowski credits his upbringing in culturally diverse Montreal for shaping his worldview, his love of food from all over the world being a key part of that.  

Queer Eye star Antoni Porowski talks about how Montreal shaped his worldview. 0:26

But in 2019, in an era full of reboots and remakes, does the world need another take on Queer Eye

For Porowski, the answer is an emphatic yes. He says being on the show has made him realize that despite all the progress made with LGBTQ rights and visibility, there's still much farther to go.

Queer Eye star Antoni Porowski talks about how his show has helped to break down social barriers between gay and straight people. 0:40

He points to increasingly conservative social climates in places like his parents' homeland of Poland, and in the U.S. where he's now based, as proof. 

This month, for example, the U.S. Supreme Court began hearings into whether the country's landmark Civil Rights Act protects LGBT people in the workplace. 

In the face of these social pressures, Porowski says the show offers people of very different social values and political beliefs a way to see each other's humanity

"It's kind of like when you learn about somebody who's queer, and you don't understand why they would want to get married or have children or have, like, the same rights that straight cisgender people do," he says. 

"But as soon as you get to learn their stories, which is exactly what we do on Queer Eye, and you get to learn who we are as individuals, suddenly it's like you're just a person. You're a human being underneath all of that stuff. And I think Queer Eye has given us an opportunity to do that."

  • WATCH: The National's interview with Antoni Porowski, Sunday night on CBC Television and streamed online

About the Author

Tarannum Kamlani is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared on the fifth estate and The National. She has also worked on a spectrum of shows on CBC Radio and Television, including Q and Power and Politics, and holds a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

With files from Andrew Chang

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.