Besides pools and giant bowls of watermelon salad, there’s something else I’ve been diving into headfirst this summer: season 2 of Netflix’s smash hit, Queer Eye. All my friends are watching it, all my friends’ friends are watching it, all my coworkers are watching it, even my family. It’s virtually impossible to escape. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Amidst the hysteria, I reached out to Antoni Porowski, the show’s resident cooking expert. I was curious to know how he spends his summers, how he beats the heat and keeps everyone entertained all summer long. Here’s what he had to say:
Valerio Farris: What's your favorite time of day in the summer?
Antoni Porowski: I enjoy evenings where I can entertain friends and family at home with handcrafted cocktails and culinary pairings. At night, I feel like there is more versatility with dining options which allows for more creative culinary expression for inspired entertaining. By fusing the best ingredients and flavor combinations and shaking up handcrafted cocktails, you can set the stage for an exceptional evening.
VF: What's the one thing you need to eat every summer, no doubt about it?
AP: If you have the opportunity to grill, whether it’s meat, veggies or even fruit, it’s the time to do it. Nothing beats a grill with smoke chips or actual charcoal. That smokiness is quintessential to summer outdoor cooking. Corn is probably my favorite. If it’s at its prime, alone or a bit of butter and salt is all you need. If it’s near the beginning or end, slap on some herb-y or sweet and spicy compound butter to make it next level.
VF: What about drinks?
AP: The Original Margarita is a summer classic—and it’s so simple and easy to make with just three ingredients: one ounce of Cointreau, two ounces of Blanco tequila, and one ounce of fresh lime juice. It’s a fun cocktail to shake up because you can creatively add your own flair with the flavors and garnishes. I like to incorporate some heat by using freshly sliced jalapeños and chili seasoning for a spicy twist. For a great seasoned rim, I prefer to use Tajín for a vibrant yet unique spin.
VF: What are the best foods to serve that beat the heat?
AP: On a hot summer day, I love a refreshing cocktail paired with a seasonal salad. For example, the classic White Lady can pair nicely with summer vegetables tossed in dressing for an easy salad that complements the light cocktail, which has a winning combination of refreshing cucumbers and the subtle botanicals of their best friend, gin, as well as the sweetness from Cointreau.
VF: What's the ultimate key to summertime entertaining?
AP: I believe the key is to start the evening with thoughtfully crafted cocktails—it sets the stage for an elevated gathering that will leave a lasting impression on friends and family. I also love to showcase my style by artfully weaving in elements of my recipes within the tablescape décor. Mix and match color tones and textures to elevate the table’s design. And of course, you can’t forget the music—iset the tone for the night with a curated playlist based on tunes you know your guests will enjoy for a truly memorable experience.
VF: To grill or not to grill?
AP: Both! Salads and sides can be prepared ahead of time so you’re not stuck by a hot grill all night. Developing a balanced menu will allow you to have some of your meal ready before guests arrive, and a few components to grill alongside your friends.
What are you summertime tricks? Drop them in the comments section below.