Need an at-home date night meal? Queer Eye's Antoni has you covered with a Fab 5-course menu
One look at Antoni Porowski’s Instagram and, unsurprisingly, food takes center stage. Sheltering in place with his boyfriend and the beagle-pitbull mix they’re fostering in Austin, Tex. — where a future season of Queer Eye had just started filming before the coronavirus pandemic forced TV and movie productions everywhere to shut down — the Netflix show’s food and wine expert has “cooked more in the past six weeks than I have in the past two and a half years since Queer Eye came out because of all of the traveling,” he tells EW.
But when he couldn’t find all the items for a dish he wanted to make, he wondered how many others had hit that same wall. So he started an Instagram “show” called Quar-Eye: “one-take, unedited” videos where he cooked meals using what he could get from stores or had on hand, reinvented leftovers, and more. "The first episode was the Keep Calm-lette, and it was just a simple omelet with a little salsa. And then I had a lot of comments of people basically being like, ‘Look, we haven't had eggs available in several weeks,'" he says. "I tried to adapt it, so for the second one, I was like, 'Okay, I heard you, you don't have eggs. We're going to do chicken tenders.'"
Netflix also took notice of what he was doing, and together they turned Quar-Eye into the YouTube series Show Me What You’re Working With. “It forces me to be creative,” he explains. “I feel like I'm being more helpful. It's not me just being like, ‘Hey this is what I have available, this is what I'm cooking with.’ I'm literally working with what they have, which is challenging but also loads of fun.” And in the process, he's helping raise awareness and funds for Feeding America. "I don't want to be preachy and making demands... a lot of people are in very difficult situations right now, but at the same time I think visibility is really important," he says. "When people are in a position to help, if they are, then they should, just like I am."
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Porowski is used to helping people, as one part of the Fab 5 on the Emmy-winning Queer Eye. "We barely completed one episode," he says of an upcoming season that will be set in and around Austin. Deciding it was more responsible to stay there rather than go home to New York, which accounts for nearly 22,000 of the country's 85,000 deaths from the virus, he admits he "was worried about becoming a little bored. While I'm still working on other projects and some things are business as usual and other things have come to a complete standstill, I'm a workaholic, for better or worse, and I just I love to keep busy."
One of those "other projects" is with black-ish creator Kenya Barris, called Girls & Boys. "It was very much a leak. I wasn't expecting it to come out," he says of the news that broke a month ago about the project, which is described as being loosely based on his real-life dating experience as a sexually fluid man. "This is something that we're still very much working on but I'm immensely excited about."
He doesn't know yet whether it will be a TV series or a movie — "a lot of it is TBD" — or whether he will star (he studied acting after moving to New York City). But he is sure about one thing: his decision to partner with Barris. "Kenya was telling me about the success that he's had with black-ish. It's successful because it's about him and it's very personal and something that people can relate to because it's so specific, which kind of inspired me to kind of go into what my life has been like as a fluid man," he explains. "That's what we all latched on to and I couldn't be more excited to be working on it with them."
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In his off-camera time, and when he's not developing that scripted project or caring for his foster dog or spending time with his boyfriend, he created the menu below — a Fab 5-course meal, if you will (we know, a drink isn't a "course," but we couldn't resist) — for a quarantine date night. "I don't really subscribe to like the traditional rules [about date night]," he admits. "Have you been in a relationship for 10 years? Have some pasta and have a bunch of slow-roasted garlic and things are fine. Or keep it really nice, light, and sexy if you're starting to date somebody.... I always kind of go on gut instinct about whatever it is that I feel like having, and just find out what the other person likes."
And in true iso-chic fashion, he can’t stop eating the beet salad. “It’s my No. 1 favorite thing right now.”
Topo Chico with Muddled Blueberries and Basil
Muddle fresh blueberries (or frozen but thawed) with leaves of basil and a squeeze of honey or simple syrup. Pour over a glass of Topo Chico sparkling water.
Green Olives with Parm Nuggets
Castelvetrano olives (or any you like) in a shallow bowl or on a small plate. With sharp end of a paring knife, I break apart nuggets of Parmigiano Reggiano and add to olives. I like to drizzle a bit of good olive oil.
Shaved Orange Beets with Pine Nuts
Using a vegetable peeler or mandolin, I shave orange beets (red or any variety would work well here too, as long as they're very thin) and toss in a bowl with good olive oil and white balsamic vinegar (or regular, or lemon juice) and season with flaked salt and loads of fresh cracked pepper. Let sit for 10 minutes, then arrange flat on a large shared plate. Garnish with toasted pine nuts and yellow celery leaves.
Crispy Skin Salmon and Broccolini
Salmon is the easiest and, in my opinion, the least intimidating fish to cook for anyone who’s afraid of preparing seafood. This duo is a staple when I want something light but satisfying.
Lightly dust flour over salmon skin and season all sides with kosher salt. In a nonstick pan over medium heat with a bit of olive oil, cook salmon skin side down until crispy. Make sure the pan is hot when you lay your salmon so it doesn’t stick. Flip it when you look at the side of the filet and the bottom third is cooked. Cook on second side for five minutes so that it’s a nice medium-rare.
In a second pan on medium heat I crisp up garlic slices in olive oil (sometimes I add red pepper flakes), then I remove the garlic from pan once dark brown so it doesn’t burn. Then I sauté the broccolini until a bit tender but still firm. I then throw the garlic back in and squeeze fresh lemon and its zest, plus salt to taste before serving.
An entire tub of Jeni's Ice Cream with Fresh Blackberries and Raspberries
I'm super lazy when it comes to dessert and keep it simple. A nice ice cream with berries is my usual go-to.
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