Season 6 of Netflix’s Queer Eye has been a ray of sunlight to the masses who have been given the ol’ one-two by dark winter days and social distancing. In case you missed it, the latest season dropped at the end of January. Finally, we could spend the weekend crying over the wholesomeness of the Fab Five giving other peoples’ lives a makeover while wrapped in a blanket burrito on the couch. (Oh boy, did that happen.)
Frankly, we could never pick just one favorite out of the Fab Five. We want Tan France’s style advice. We wish that Jonathan Van Ness would give us a haircut, that Karamo Brown could be our life coach, and that Bobby Berk would redesign our living room (with thrifted decor, of course). But this is a cooking article–and today, we’re talking about Queer Eye’s resident culinarian, Antoni Porowski, and how he’s been applying more of his culinary know-how towards developing more vegan recipes. Throughout Season 6, the 37-year-old Montreal native shared four plant-based recipes, which we’ll get to in a bit. First, what does he cook for himself when he’s not teaching other people about the joy of cooking?
What does Antoni Porowski eat?
At home, Porowski takes a relaxed approach to food, often using only what he has at home. He takes a flexitarian approach, too, as was demonstrated in an episode of his quarantine-cooking series on Instagram. In the first “Meet-Less Monday” version, he makes a vegan pizza with almond-based mozzarella, meatless sausage, marinated artichoke hearts, fire-roasted red peppers, and leeks. It sounds gourmet, but everything came premade, or in a jar.
“We should all be encouraged [to eat less meat] because we should all be encouraged to do that for the sake of our planet,” Porowski explains at the top of the video. There’s also an eco-friendly angle to cooking with only things that he has in his kitchen: it helps cut down on food waste, an issue that worsens climate change.
In another episode, he makes chickpea pasta with crumbled vegan sausage, peas, and zucchini in a lemon-white wine sauce. “As usual, I’m using literally whatever I have on hand and trying to make the best of it, like we all are,” he says in the beginning.
Not only does Porowski dole out the wisdom on social media, but he’s also put it on paper in two cookbooks: 2019’s Antoni in the Kitchen and last year’s Let’s Do Dinner. The latter includes a handful of meatless recipes, like roasted cabbage steaks with apple-Dijon vinaigrette and a vegan chili.
Porowski’s lack of culinary training has earned him some side-eye, but the self-taught cuisinier’s approachable recipes and basic tips have clearly resonated with both Queer Eye’s makeover recipients and the show’s fans. Here’s what he cooked in Season 6:
Rainbow maple-glazed carrots
In Season 6, Episode 3 of Queer Eye, titled “No More Bull,” the Fab Five help a 32-year-old cattle rancher named Josh get his act together so he can “lasso the love of his life” by embracing some of that sweet, sweet self-care. Meat is, as expected, a big part of Josh’s life. Less than five minutes into the episode, we see the Texan rubbing spices into a rib rack and slamming a slab of meat down into a cast-iron skillet.
Porowski digs deep into the inner workings of Josh’s diet and learns that the cattle rancher eats steak “pretty much every day” with some “chicken every now and then, but not when anyone’s watching,” earning him an exasperated “Oh, masculinity!” from Queer Eye’s resident cook. (Same, Antoni. Hard same.) So, what’s the problem? Josh doesn’t like vegetables, doesn’t think that they taste good, and can’t remember the last time he had a carrot. “Mom was a pretty good Texas woman,” he says. “Didn’t feed me a whole lot of veggies.” We might unpack that meat-masculinity thing at a later date–let’s get to how Porowski proves Josh wrong about tasteless veggies.
Together, Josh and Porowski saute a bunch of rainbow carrots in a skillet with butter, olive oil, and salt until they develop a light char. They then whisk up a glaze consisting of fresh thyme, honey, and chili flakes, tossing to coat the carrots. “The reason I’m adding [honey] now and not earlier is that [it’s] very high in sugar, and this would have burnt to a crisp if we had added it earlier on,” Porowski advises. They end up plating the carrots with steak, but for Porowski, the goal was to convince Josh that vegetables can be delicious. “This might be the best carrot I’ve ever had in my whole life,” he says. Victory!
Refried bean taquitos for prom
The very next episode, “A Night to Remember,” takes us to a place that my younger self dreaded: high school. But fear not, the episode brings the heartwarming vibes that we’ve come to expect from the Queer Eye crew. This time around, they’re out to help a high school prom committee pull off an outdoor dance for seniors that have been, for the most part, attending classes remotely because of the pandemic. The committee is on a time crunch to get everything together because the prom’s approval was slowed down, also due to COVID-19.
So, Porowski comes in clutch with an idea for a taquito bar featuring three flavors: chicken, cheese, and refried beans. “We need something for the vegans,” student body co-president Emilio tells him in a conversation about the menu. “Everybody should be happy and fed.” To which Porowski responds “Look at you, thinking about other people!”
The taquitos themselves are simple, Porowski explains: just mix refried beans with some salsa, lay down a spoonful of the filling on the first third of the tortilla, roll it away from you, spray it with some oil, and then pop it in the air fryer until it’s crispy. They’re then served with bowls of pico de gallo, green sauce (avocado, jalapeño, lime juice, onion, and salt), and sour cream for topping. Everyone agrees that students will be more than happy with the taquitos on the big night.
Braised cauliflower steaks
We wait with bated breath for the next plant-based recipe in Season 6, which happens in Episode 7: “The Snow White of Central Texas.”
This time around, the Fab Five help Jamie, the founder of Safe in Austin Rescue Ranch, a sanctuary for special-needs animals. The refuge is home to 18 species and 170 animals. Jamie’s big heart also extends to children with special needs: she runs a program that connects kids with rescued animals who share a similar story. (Warning: the wholesomeness of this episode will make you cry.)
Jamie is “on” for her job and her family practically 24/7, so she rarely allows herself to take a break, and that includes cooking. Due to the nature of her job–rescue both farm animals and the ones we keep as pets–Jamie follows a plant-based diet. She admittedly “sucks” at it and because she’s so used to just ordering takeout instead, she finds her own kitchen intimidating.
Porowski to the rescue! “Plant-based seems to be the direction that everybody is heading towards,” he tells Jamie before introducing the recipe: braised cauliflower steaks. (Jamie says that her experience with cauliflower consists of smashing it on the ground for hungry rabbits and tortoises.)
To make the steaks, Antoni slices a whole cauliflower down the middle, then coats each slab in olive oil, turmeric, fresh cracked pepper, and salt. They brown both sides of the cauliflower steaks in a cast-iron skillet, then braise it in vegetable broth. It’s then topped with a vinaigrette made from olive oil, cilantro, lime juice, gochujang, maple syrup, and salt. They both dig in, and savor the flavorful vegetable dish.
Antoni Porowski’s plant-based protein shake
In Episode 8, “Gimme Shelter,” Porowski keeps things simple, but personal–we’re talking his very own smoothie recipe. This episode’s makeoveree is 36-year-old Chris, who describes himself as a “tattooed, no-good, potty-mouthed humanitarian.” He’s the founder and executive director of The Other Ones Foundation, which provides hygiene facilities and hunger relief to people experiencing homelessness. His wife, Elizabeth, tells the Fab Five that Chris is “one of the most compassionate” people she knows, but worries that he’s going to burn himself out.
Not only is Chris busy helping others all the time, but he also underwent gastric bypass surgery. This means that his meals need to be quick, but also nutrient-rich, options that his stomach can handle. He frequently buys bottled whey protein shakes out of convenience, which Porowski explains “is milk-derived and can be hard to digest” for those who have had a gastric sleeve.
Porowski offers a homemade swap: a vegan protein shake made with pistachio milk, pea protein, banana, almond butter, “an offensive amount” of cinnamon, and ice. “You don’t save time by making your smoothie from scratch, but it’s less expensive and you have an awareness of what you’re putting into your body,” he says. Chris’s verdict? “Oh my god, this is so good. It’s like gingerbread. It tastes like Christmas.”
Want to learn how other stars cook at home? Check out the rest of our series, where we share more celebrity cooking tips.