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Antoni Porowski Needs You to Get This Dutch Oven

His dad was convinced to get one eight years ago, and he still uses it today.

March 17, 2022
Photo by Julia Gartland

Antoni Porowski—advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, host of Netflix’s Queer Eye, cookbook author, proud dog dad, and…investor? Well, not in the financial way (though I guess that doesn’t hurt), but as in investing time and energy into his loved ones, a well-lived life, and of course, his cooking.

“Leading up to the pandemic, I was so reactive,” he said. “I was on the express train busting out season after season of Queer Eye, writing cookbooks, going to events, and doing all these different things. And then suddenly everything came to a full stop and I was left with my feelings, my boyfriend, a foster dog, and therapy sessions.” He made good use of that time by putting his energy into things that always intrigued him but never had time for, like perfecting the art of soft scrambled eggs or baking through Ina Garten recipes.

It also gave him time to evaluate the intersection of fear and self-expression, something he channeled into his latest campaign with clothing brand Madewell alongside Sohla El-Waylly and Padma Lakshmi, two living legends who he said make him feel like he snuck his way into the campaign and is waiting to be found out. “When Madewell reached out and told me about who else was in it, I was blinded by the names.” It also helps that the brand makes his favorite denim: “[The clothes] are legit comfortable, the denim especially. They're really just right for a literal walk in the park with the dog or going out at night.”

For the campaign, Porowski was inspired by singer Patti Smith, who he said was “constantly terrified in life, but is never afraid to lean into that fear; she’s sensitive, but not insecure.” That sentiment stuck with Porowski and has become a symbol for much of his life, especially in the last four years after Queer Eye launched and catapulted Porowski and his fellow hosts into worldwide fame. “I continue to be afraid of literally everything (including losing my dog whenever I go on hikes with her), but I lean into that fear and it doesn’t stop me from accomplishing things in life. There's a rush that comes with getting to the other side that I really love.”

But if there’s one thing that doesn’t scare Porowski (much), it’s his cooking, which the self-taught home cook (he doesn’t refer to himself as a chef) calls his ultimate love language. When he’s not in the kitchen, he says he can be aloof and forgetful about a lot of things. But once he’s in front of a cutting board, he gets into the zone, thinking about the loved one he’s cooking for and all of their likes and dislikes. Case in point: when he’s making a simple sando for his boyfriend, that means marinated red peppers, no cheese.

That same thoughtfulness also plays out in the kitchen essentials he keeps reaching for, like his versatile Le Creuset braiser. “It's such an incredible investment piece because you can sear meat in it, you can make soups and stews—I've even made eggs in it,” he said. “Nothing really sticks to the bottom and it just lasts forever. It’s made to last for decades and it’s made to be passed on.” In fact, he loves his braiser so much that he even turned his dad on to the brand eight years ago when he was looking for a Dutch oven. But after his dad remarked on the investment price tag, he suggested scoping out TJ Maxx for discounted ones (Porowski is not above a maxxinsta moment). Dad made out with a bright orange Dutch oven and has used it so often since that “this thing looks like my grandma had it.”

During a recent trip to Vermont to see his family, Porowski used that very Dutch oven to make a stew with maple syrup (which his stepmom loves), and stout (which his dad loves), and spent two hours in the kitchen making more memories. “[Cooking] is so much more than food. Like yes, it tastes good and you used these tips and tricks you learned along the way, but it's really the intention that goes with it.”

Whether it’s sandwiches or stews, denim or Dutch ovens, Porowski just wants to be as intentional and thoughtful with his investments, and won’t sacrifice form over function. “You can genuinely have both. That’s the tagline for next season's campaign…for which they haven’t agreed to have me, but hopefully they will now!”

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Jada Wong

Written by: Jada Wong

Jada is the market editor at Food52 with a decade of experience writing and editing for online publications such as Refinery29, Cosmopolitan, and Insider.