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Antoni Porowski: Queer Eye For The Quiz Guy

<em>Ask Me Another</em> host Ophira Eisenberg chats with Antoni Porowski at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.
Mike Katzif
Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg chats with Antoni Porowski at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.

Quebec-born, Polish-descenced, and now a New York local, the trilingual food enthusiast Antoni Porowski is best known as one fifth of Queer Eye'sfab five. In each episode, this enthusiastic group sets out to transform the life of one woefully unkempt "hero." Each member of the team has a niche and, although he isn't professionally trained, Porowski serves as the show's food and wine connoisseur. Now that Porowski has worked in this role over the show's four seasons, to date, he's gearing up to release his own cookbook: Antoni in the Kitchen.

Porowski's interest in cooking, he explained to NPR's Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg, dates back to "when I got kicked out of my parents' house at the age of 17. I was a nightmare!" He was living with friends in Montreal whose parents also lived abroad while the boys attended CEGEP — a year of vocational schooling between high school and college, unique to Quebec's educational system. Naturally, the friends formed a band, calling themselves the "Silver Spoons."

Ophira Eisenberg and Antoni Porowski on <em>Ask Me Another</em> at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.
Mike Katzif / NPR
Ophira Eisenberg and Antoni Porowski on Ask Me Another at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.

"We were all sort of alone," Porowski said. "We were like lost boys. And then I decided to start cooking for them. I had never prepared a meal for myself before that." He explained that the first thing that he ever cooked was "a very unsuccessful, mushy eggplant parm."

Things changed for Porowski in a big way in 2012 when his then-roommate PJ Vogt (the same PJ Vogt who now co-hosts the Gimlet podcast Reply All) suggested going to the book signing of Ted Allen, Queer Eye's original food and wine guy. Porowski recalled Vogt saying, "'You're insanely weird and passionate about food, and I know that you want to be an actor but you should explore food in a professional capacity.'" At the signing, Porowski introduced himself to Allen. They chatted until they "realized that we lived literally across the street from each other, and then we became fast friends."

When Porowski learned about Netflix's planst to reboot Queer Eye, he contacted Allen for advice. He said Allen was initially hesitant, until he acknowledged that Porowski's comfort on-camera and love of talking about food made him a good fit for the role. "I met the opportunity with a tremendous amount of fear," Porowski recalled, "but I also really get off on fear."

Now that Queer Eye has become a staple of the Netflix catalogue, Porowski said he makes an effort to keep in touch with some of the featured "heroes." "I'm very codependent," he said. "I do get attached because I really love people and I love connection with people."

For hisAsk Me Another challenge, Porowski was given a choice to play a game about guacamole — based on his controversial suggestion to add Greek yogurt to guacamole in the show's first season — or a game of literary trivia. He opted for the game about books.

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