Antoni Porowski Dishes on Being Canadian in the Kitchen (And What He Always Cooks on a First Date)

Antoni Porowski. You likely know him as the affable “food and wine” guy on the reality series Queer Eye, who lights up screens everywhere with his puckish smile and easy-to-prepare recipes (he practically invented guacamole). But the Montreal native is no kitchen novice. In fact, it’s his ability to elevate ordinary dishes in a way that’s still achievable for the average home cook that makes his recipes so appealing (and has us lusting after every dish he posts on Instagram). His newly-released first cookbook, Antoni In The Kitchen,  serves as further, drool-worthy proof.


Born and raised in Montreal with Polish roots, Antoni’s culinary creations are a nod to the food traditions of his past, from the perfect French omelette to “Polish Hangover Soup” (Zurek). He also speaks fondly of growing up to his mom’s Saturday platters spilling with kielbasa slices, sauerkraut and Polish mustard, coupled with his dad’s famous cheese boards.

“Every weekend I’m home, I make the obligatory cheese and charcuterie board, whether I’m solo or have guests coming,” he says. “It’s a tradition I plan to keep for as long as I can make it.”

At 14, the Canadian food guru began hosting dinner parties for friends, slathering baguette pieces with fragrant, roasted garlic and Parmesan, eventually graduating to the likes of grilled chicken with raspberry BBQ sauce.

“I tried the sauce at a country club once. I think it was served over spareribs, and I wanted to have it at home, so I took a classic barbecue sauce recipe and added raspberries and peppercorns,” says Antoni. “There’s a lot I don’t remember that I probably should, but dishes I’ve loved stick with me for some reason.”

Whether it’s the influences of his heritage or a new food pairing that sets off his taste buds, Antoni has an intrepid curiosity that he brings to every dish he consumes and creates, modifying what’s known into something even better.

But it’s also about balance, a delicate cuisine equilibrium of sorts. His fast-casual Manhattan eatery, The Village Den, where he is part owner, focuses on more wholesome fare, free from gluten, soy, red meat and processed sugars. “Bourdain said it best with ‘everything in moderation, including moderation’,” quotes Antoni. “I eat pretty healthy during the week, but on the weekend, I tend to go nuts. That said, on a rainy Wednesday night, it’s grilled cheese for sure.”

And when it comes to arming the everyday cook with confidence, Antoni says it all boils down to finding joy in the process. “Maybe it’s a chance for solo time and self-care, or maybe it’s an opportunity for you to invite a friend or two and create together,” he says. “Don’t stress about the finished product as much. This is not unlike general life advice I’ve heard from a mentor or two.” Wise words worth pocketing away for a rainy day spent in the kitchen.


Recipes excerpted from Antoni In The Kitchen © 2019 by Antoni Porowski. Photography © 2019 by Paul Brissman. Reproduced by permission of Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.