Antoni Porowski, a major cast member of Netflix’s hit show “Queer Eye,” brought his cooking expertise and personality to Colgate on March 31. As part of the University’s Virtual Speaker Series, Porowski engaged in a meet-and-greet with ten lucky students, and later a webinar cooking demonstration facilitated by junior Nathan Conlon.
Webinar participants were welcomed into Porowski’s own kitchen to make scrambled eggs and a French omelette, but were also entertained with anecdotes about the rest of the “Queer Eye” cast — Porowski poked fun at Karamo Brown’s habit of “eating skittles and drinking coke for lunch or dinner.” He also talked about his own college experiences and his love for Trader Joe’s and TJ Maxx. He even gave the audience a glimpse of his dog — all bound to please any “Queer Eye” fanatic.
Even for those not particularly interested in the personal lives of the members of the Fab 5, Porowski relayed useful information, like tips for any college student making do with a small kitchen and limited ingredient variety. Perhaps his most profound message of the evening, however, was directed at LGBTIQ+ youth.
“I think it really is important to find one’s tribe where you can kind of feel safe, because with whatever it is that you have going on, if you identify under the umbrella of LGBTQIA+ or if you’re questioning, to have those conversations alone in your head — I think that’s what felt the most lonely... I’m sure you guys have some kind of resources you can tap into, whether it’s social workers, psychologists and, if for whatever reason that makes you uncomfortable, [even] find[ing] a sympathetic ear.”
Conlon heard he would be facilitating these conversations just two days before the event. He had put his name in as a potential candidate because “Queer Eye” was a show that got him through quarantine. Additionally, he’s involved with the Trevor Project and LGBTQIA+ issues on campus and beyond. He wasn’t expecting to demonstrate any cooking skills, however.
“On the Monday [before the event], the organizer said that our facilitator should also cook, and asked if that was cool with me. I’m like, ‘I guess!’ In my mind, I was thinking I was going to embarrass myself in front of everyone, but you know what, I can’t say no to this, otherwise I’ll regret it forever.”
Come Wednesday, Porowksi started the evening with the meet-and-greet, and assured Conlon there that they’d just have fun together in the webinar. Conlon said that Porowski’s genuineness helped ease his nerves. So much so that when he entered the Zoom webinar, he said it felt like it was just the two of them having a conversation, rather than paying attention to what he estimates to have been more than 150 participants.
“The way I was told it was going to be set up is that I had a list of 25 questions, and I thought he was going to prompt me for the questions. But while we were cooking, he never ended up doing that; he was asking me about my dog, my experiences, so I was like, ‘wow, this is way more personal than I thought.’”
Junior John Morgan’s name was pulled for the meet-and-greet, and echoed praises about Porowski’s authenticity.
“I said my name, my pronouns, the activities I was involved in on campus, and then came a part I didn’t expect. [Porowski] asked me several follow up questions, so I was caught off guard… He was genuinely really nice and wanted to get to know everyone… We wrapped up a bit late since the introductions took so long,” he said.
Morgan said Porowski was particularly curious about his involvement in Arabic tutoring.
“He wanted to know what drove my interests and passions and he asked similar things of other people… like ‘Oh, tell me more about this club,’ and ‘Why did you get into this major?’”
Porowski’s friendliness and curiosity followed him throughout the evening. His fellow Fab 5 member, Jonathan Van Ness, is scheduled to pay a virtual visit to Colgate on April 22 for a similar Q&A.