Queer Eye's Antoni Tells Us His Favourite Way To Eat Avocados

Photo: Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images.
Netflix's hit show Queer Eye is full of important lessons — be open to new experiences, don't be afraid to express yourself, remember to take care of yourself — yet, the one thing many viewers held onto most long after binge-watching its first two seasons is that Antoni Porowski is obsessed with avocados.
Though this fact has become the source of many a meme and viral tweet, Porowski isn't going to apologise for his feelings about the special green fruit. In fact, he's taking his love a step further. In his latest brand partnership, Porowski is teaming up with with Wholly Guacamole. In honour of National Guac Day on September 16, we chatted with Porowski about why people have such strong opinions about avocados. Plus, he shared some details about the next season of Queer Eye, his new restaurant, and the Fab Five's coffee orders.
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What is your strategy for picking out avocados?
"There’s a trick to test steak to know if it’s medium-rare, rare, medium, or well-done. You take your finger and you touch the joint of your thumb, and that’s what texture should be like. If you take your pinkie and you touch where your thumb joint is, it presses down, but it’s really still nice and firm. That’s actually the perfect test for avocados."
What are your favorite ways to eat avocados?
"I have so many. One I use to get at my favourite smoothie place in Montreal when I was a student. It’s a Lebanese way where they take this really concentrated yogurt and add all kinds of fresh fruit like papaya and mango and avocados. The texture was so nice and creamy, and it really adds a beautiful brightness and colour."
Some fans have kind of poked fun at your avocado obsession. Is this partnership a way of reclaiming your avocado narrative?
"I don’t disagree that it is. I obviously love avocados. In the show, they put two episodes in a row where I prepared something with avocados and it became this whole thing. You never know what’s going to get a lot of attention. I think avocados for me are the equivalent to Tan France’s French tuck, which we didn’t think was a thing but quickly became the source of many memes and discussion."
In 2015, people reacted very strongly when the New York Times published a recipe for Green Pea Guacamole. Why do you think people feel so strongly about this particular dish?
"I respect opinions. Just like certain parts of our bodies, everyone’s got one. I understand an appreciation for tradition, but you want to stay open-minded. It’s not we’re putting chocolate in it, it’s something that actually makes sense. Also, peas are freaking delicious. They’re one of my favourite ingredient in the world. I have a very strong emotional reaction to them because when I was a broke student, I would have frozen peas with a bit of nice finishing salt and a bit of olive oil or butter, and it was a delicious meal. Some people, when they’ve only had something a certain way, don’t want to see it changed or bastardised or made completely differently, and I get that, but at least try it and then tell me that it’s not good."
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"My whole Greek yogurt in guacamole thing caused an uproar — not quite worthy of a reaction from Obama but people freaked out about that. I’m sorry, but I still stand by it. It’s added protein, it makes it creamier if your avocados are a little oily and you want to balance it out, but I’m not the first person to invent that. ABC Cocina, probably one of the most respected restaurants in the city by one of the most important chefs of our time, Jean-George, they do a pea guacamole, and he seems to be doing okay. Be adventurous."
What are the top five things you usually buy at the supermarket?
"I try to keep everything as fresh and simple as I possibly can."
"1. I love my cheese, and there’s a nice group of Polish farms in Vermont that have a co-op, and they do these really nice little sharp cheddar slices that are individually packed.
"2. I love Medjool Dates. They’re sweet and amazing with a bit of chunky peanut butter and some nice finishing salt. That’s a perfect little afternoon bite.
"3. Legit, Wholly Guac. The chunky is awesome to have. Full disclosure, I have eaten it like a soup. Not that it has that consistency, but where I just peel away the wrapper and eat it with a spoon. If you have leftover tortillas, you know the little crumbs at the end of the bag? Take those and just sprinkle them over the open container and just eat it like a little avocados tartar.
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"4. Next, almonds. My two favourite kinds are Marcona almond, which are the fancy Spanish ones. They don’t have skins and they’re really sweet and they’re shaped like little baby sand dollars. The other ones that are really nice are Tamari almonds. They have a bit of a saltiness.
"5. Something that I always have at home always, always, always is fresh lemon. Whether I’m making a salad, if I’m roasting fish or roasting some veggies or even like a root mash, I use grated lemon peel on a micro-plane. There’s so much flavour in the skin itself, and it flavours the dish without watering things down. Lemon zest, can wake up any dish. And, what’s nice is that when you remove the zest and you only have the pith, it’s a lot easier to squeeze all of the juices out, so it’s kind of like a double whammy."
You are about to open a restaurant. Will any avocado dishes be on the menu?
"For the restaurant, in my first round of preparing everything, I actually didn’t have avocados and it wasn’t that much of a conscientious choice — or, maybe it was. Maybe I was still a little hurt over the whole Greek yogurt and guac thing (laughing). But, it will be featured in a way that’s really classic and not too controversial. There is a little, I like to say, Polish element added to what I think avocados should have."
Can you reveal anything about the recipes you'll be teaching in the on the upcoming season of Queer Eye?
"I will say that I’m doing my very best to continue honouring the needs of our heroes. Casting has really pushed the envelope on inclusivity. I thought I knew what that was, but they’ve taken it to the next level, and they’re really making it something else. Sometimes it’s going to be a little bit more simplistic because that’s what our hero needs and sometimes it’s going to be a lot more elaborate and complex. I’m trying to leave my ego out of it as much as I possibly can, but I will say, that I have pushed and actually have been encouraged in a really lovely way to cook a lot more as well, which is so difficult to do in a segment that’s often a minute and a half to two minutes long to show a whole recipe. I don’t think that’s been done successfully on television yet, but we’re going to try here because it’s Netflix and it’s Queer Eye and yeah, why the hell not?"
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What is the proudest you’ve ever been of a Queer Eye contestant?
"Corey, he was the cop in season one. I know that episode is referenced a lot but rightfully so because it had a really profound effect on a lot of people. He wanted to learn how to eat healthier, but at the same time, he wasn’t someone who was going to create these elaborate molecular gastronomy feasts for his family, so I wanted to start him off with something really simple. I just showed him avocado and grapefruit...The way that he was so focused and intent on getting it right and just impressing his sweet little girls, I thought that was so beautiful...I felt how much love he must have for them to want to do that."
It’s officially PSL season again. Are you a fan? If not, what’s your go-to fall coffee order?
"Look, I don’t hate it, but I don’t have the craziest sweet tooth, and I feel like a lot of those are just so over-sugared. It’s the type of thing that I would have a tiny sampler of, but could not drink the whole thing. My coffee order in the winter is black hot coffee with nothing in it. In the summer, it’s cold brew or iced coffee. No milk. No sugar. I keep it really simple."
Do you know the other Fab Five’s coffee orders?
"Do I?! I know way too much about those guys. Let’s break it down. Tan: Tall Pike, heavy cream, one and a half sugars. Jonathan: Venti Blonde with heavy cream, no sugars. Bobby: Venti iced latte, two pumps sugar-free vanilla, skim milk. Karamo: Coca-Cola. I’ve never seen coffee touch his lips. He’ll have a coke every now and then and that’s it."
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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