Antoni Porowski can’t help but beam when he talks about food.
The food personality and Queer Eye host has just released his second cookbook, Let’s Do Dinner, which chronicles his evolving relationship with what he calls the most important meal of the day. The recipes featured in the cookbook range from a rustic Golden Root Vegetable Potpie; to cozy Lazy Pierogis with Wild Mushrooms, Cabbage and Prunes; to a decadent Strip Steak with Harissa Butter, but they never stray from Porowski’s easy, practical approach.
“With Antoni in the Kitchen, that was my introduction into the food space as a public person and right after two seasons of Queer Eye,“ Porowski says over Zoom. “I really took the lead of some of my castmates who were basically writing memoirs at the time, and I wanted to make mine more of a culinary memoir. So the first book had a lot of my Polish heritage and stuff that I ate when I was a broke college student; recipes that never made it to Queer Eye, that I was a little salty about, that I really wanted people to be able to enjoy.
“With Let’s Do Dinner—the title kind of is self-explanatory—but it really is a focus on what I think is the most important meal of the day.”
Porowski made the conscious decision to offer a diverse array of recipes, rather than focus on one type of cuisine. He feels variety is important, especially now, when we’re home more than ever—and maybe dreading making dinner on a daily basis.
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“I always want food to be really delicious, but it needs to be easy,” he says. “It needs to be quick-ish, healthy-ish. The book is really varied in terms of having loads of plant-based options—maybe something more pescatarian for midweek, and then near the end of the week, when I’m just craving meat, I love ground turkey and rotisserie chicken.”
Focusing his cookbook on dinner also let him talk about his upbringing. He grew up in Canada with parents who had immigrated from Poland, and dinner around the kitchen table was a cornerstone of their family life.
“Coming from a dysfunctional family, that was the one time where we all really got along and where we got to just sit at the table and gossip about other family members and just be a family.,” Porowski says. “I feel like I’ve been trying to re-create that Rockwellian experience my whole life.”
“At the end of the day, if you have a really good day, you just want something nice to end it with before you go binge Housewives, or The White Lotus, or whatever it is that you’re obsessed with,” he explains. “But if you had a really crappy day, a great meal can be the most satisfying thing. I realize I’m a little more obsessed with food than the average person, but it’s like a vacation. If you plan a vacation, you have something to look forward to. That’s how I feel about dinner. I love thinking, Okay, it’s time to go to the store, get my rotisserie chicken, or get my eggs, or get my salmon to make my own chazuke.”
Porowski can’t mention a specific ingredient or dish without heading off into an impassioned tangent. He tells me about where he got his first taste of chazuke (in Japan, while filming Queer Eye). About how to make the perfect soft-scrambled eggs (add a teaspoon of water—crucially not milk, cream, or butter—to your whisked mixture). About the best use for wilted greens (an herby, brothy soup). His current obsessions are topics of conversation as well (right now, he can’t get enough green peas). You get the sense that far more than food trends, what drives his passion for cooking is curiosity and community.
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“As much as I love to cook, sometimes I’ll go through a week or two where I just want to order takeout,” he admits. “But then I realize how much I miss it. There’s a part of me, a part of my brain and of my heart that I’m just, like, not exercising. And then I get in the kitchen, and that’s what gives me a sense of purpose. We all have something to learn, and that’s what makes cooking so fun: there’s always a better way to do something. There’s always a better technique. There’s always an ingredient swap that you can make.”
For some, the kitchen can be an intimidating place, where perfection must be served. But Porowski feels liberated from those expectations. “I used to take [cooking] so seriously. Everything had to be perfect. You go to a store and they don’t have an ingredient and you have to figure out how to pivot—that used to freak me out,” he says. “But now, I get excited. Challenge accepted! Let’s do this. Let’s see if it’s going to work. If it doesn’t, I just know I’m never going to do it again. I’ve embraced the art of making mistakes.”
Let’s Do Dinner is available now wherever books are sold. Scroll down for Porowski’s favorite pancake recipe, inspired by his close friend Gigi Hadid.
Oatmeal Pancakes with Apples + BaconPaul Brissman
SERVES 4 TO 6
SOUR CREAM TOPPING
PANCAKES AND BACON
For the sour cream topping:
For the pancakes and bacon:
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