Montrealer Antoni Porowski, BA (psych.) 08, shot to international fame as the food and wine expert in the hugely successful Netflix reboot of Queer Eye.
After graduating from Concordia, Porowski moved to New York City where he auditioned for acting roles while working in restaurants to pay the bills.
The hard work would pay off with Queer Eye.
The television personality, chef and model is now a cookbook author and returns to Montreal to launch his new book Antoni in the Kitchen at the Rialto Theatre, presented by Librairie Drawn & Quarterly on October 3.
We recently caught up with Antoni in New York for a brief Q&A.
Your new book Antoni in the Kitchen shows cooks of all levels how to become more confident and casual in the kitchen.
Antoni Porowski: The book is a culinary memoir. From my Polish heritage, years in Montreal as a young kid and then university student, to my life in New York now, it’s a collection of the recipes that have shaped me into the person I am today.
You paid your dues working as a busboy, waiter, sommelier and personal chef before you opened your own restaurant The Village Den in New York’s West Village in October 2018.
AP: My first restaurant job was actually on St. Laurent Boulevard at a place called Meditteraneo, then Baïla and finally Buonanotte. Working in a restaurant helped me nurture lifelong interpersonal skills. You deal with all kinds of people when you’re a waiter. You work long hours, often holidays, and often till late at night or early in the morning. Restaurants have taught me a good work ethic, I like to think.
On what side of the great Montreal bagel debate do you fall: Fairmount Bagel or St-Viateur Bagel?
AP: St-Viateur because it’s simply the best, zero discussion. A warm sesame with whipped Liberté cream cheese or smoked salmon spread is all I need in life. Alongside a coffee from Olimpico, of course.
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau hosted an LGBTQ2 Pride-themed Q&A brunch Liberal Party fundraiser with you in 2018, then you both marched together in the Fierté Montréal Pride parade. What was that experience like?
AP: Surreal, at the very least. I was honoured to have been included in Montreal’s Pride march. We had a chance to spend the day together and even enjoy a really nice lunch atop Hotel Nelligan.
Your hometown book launch at the Rialto Theatre on October 3 will also benefit the Mile End Mission. Are you excited to return to Montreal?
AP: Beyond excited. I can’t wait to visit my dad and his girlfriend and her kids. They are my Montreal family and I’m excited for tarte au sirop d’érable with my coffee for breakfast.
How did your time and studies at Concordia University help shape you and your career?
AP: My psychology major definitely helped shape me in many ways. I’ve always loved being a student but my university studies helped me build on having an empathetic approach in everything I do.