If you could have one person teach you how to cook, there’s good reason to want that person to be Antoni Porowski. A beloved star of Netflix’s Queer Eye, Porowski helps his audience feel more confident in the kitchen with his easy and fun approach. Before appearing on television, Porowski worked as a busboy at a Polish restaurant in Montreal, and later headed to New York City to manage BondSt Sushi. Things started to take off when he became the personal chef for Ted Allen —the original food expert on Queer Eye. Porowski’s passion and determination paid off when he was cast in the revival of the show in 2018. Now, you can visit his restaurant The Village Den in New York, or whip up one of his dishes at home from his new cookbook, Antoni in the Kitchen, which features weeknight “healthyish” meals with fewer than five ingredients and perfect recipes for entertaining.
Porowski shares with Thrive the power of food and its ability to bring people together, how to feel purposeful every day, and how you can stress less in the kitchen.
Thrive Global: What do you do when you wake up?
Antoni Porowski: I drink a tall glass of water followed by a cold brew, black, on ice, and head to the gym.
TG: What gives you energy?
AP: Coffee and focusing on whatever task is at hand. When I’m actively involved, be it a shoot day, interview, or press, staying engaged keeps me going and feeling like I have a purpose.
TG: What is an easy way to get ready for an impromptu gathering?
AP: I prepare a board of either charcuterie and cheese or crudités and dips. That way, when guests arrive, they have something to munch on while I prepare dinner.
TG: Many people feel stressed out about cooking. How can we help people get more comfortable in the kitchen?
AP: Think about the intention of what you’re doing. Who are you cooking for? Why is it important? Focus on gratitude and being of service. It gets me excited to want to take care of my guests, be it family, friends, or a work-related function.
TG: Are you a fan of meal prep?
AP: Totally. I stick to proteins like chicken, roasted veggies, and grains. I keep them in separate containers so I can mix and match.
TG: How can we make work lunches more exciting?
AP: Play with adding nuts for added crunch, or raw veggies like carrot ribbons or zucchini.
TG: What are the main tools that every home chef needs?
AP: A sharp chef’s knife, a paring knife, large metal bowls for mixing and tossing, and good heavy-bottomed pans to prevent unnecessary burning.
TG: How can we prep our kitchen to make it easier to prepare meals?
AP: I keep lots of glass jars, and wash my plastic takeout containers. Learning time management also helps cut down meal prep: Start with cooking your grains because they take the longest, and while you’re preparing chicken breasts on a pan, your veggies should be roasting in the oven.
TG: What is your relationship with technology?
AP: I struggle with it, to be perfectly honest. Some nights I’m good at putting my phone away. When I bring my laptop out, I’m less likely to waste time, and it’s a good way to stay off Instagram, which I’m so used to accessing from my phone. My laptop keeps me focused on the work I actually need to do.
TG: How do you take time for self-care?
AP: A few weeks ago, I started guided 10-minute morning meditations with Headspace and it’s changed everything for me. I feel better prepared to deal with stress and anxiety throughout the day.
TG: Can you tell us a time you went from surviving to thriving? How did you overcome it?
AP: When I first moved to New York, I was broke and spending most of my hours at school. My solace came from preparing dinners for myself and my roommates every night I could. It allowed us time to connect and vent about our days, as well as the chance to be in the kitchen focusing on the mouths I was feeding instead of myself. That was a big lesson for me.
TG: When was the last time your felt burned out?
AP: When I was saying yes to everything, to every job opportunity that came my way, I spread myself too thin. I realized I wasn’t performing well at work events, and wasn’t having any down time or just plain fun with friends.
TG: What brings you optimism?
AP: Speaking to young kids and university students. They remind me of where I was at that age and they offer me hope for a better tomorrow.
TG: What is the best advice you’ve received?
AP: Be gentle with yourself.
TG: What is a quote that makes you thrive?
AP: I am enough, I have enough.