‘Queer Eye’ star Antoni Porowski speaks to sold-out audience on campus


Sarah Cutshall | Senior Staff Photographer

Antoni Porowski from the television show “Queer Eye” spoke to a crowd of more than 200 students at Pitt Program Council’s “An Evening with Antoni Porowski.”

By Apoorva Kethidi, Staff Writer

When more than 200 students headed to the WPU Ballroom to listen to a lecture from reality TV star Antoni Porowski, they left with more knowledge on his show, his life and — most importantly — salads.

The Pitt Program Council’s event “An Evening with Antoni Porowski” Wednesday night followed one of the stars of Netflix’s “Queer Eye” and food and wine expert Antoni Porowski through a discussion and Q&A and topped the evening off with a cooking demonstration.

Many are familiar with Porowski for his work on “Queer Eye.” On the hit show, he is a member of the “Fab Five” along with Bobby Berk, Jonathan Van Ness, Tan France and Karamo Brown. The group travels from state to state helping people whom they feel need a life makeover using their stylish instincts.

To kick off the event, PPC Executive Board Director Nikita Iyer, a senior neuroscience major, interviewed the star. The pair discussed a whole range of topics, from Porowski’s own personal life to food to the show itself. Iyer focused heavily on food and “Queer Eye,” but she also incorporated questions about Porowski’s life.

Porowski, a bit out of character, was very open with his responses, especially those pertaining to his sexuality.

“My sexuality was something I never talked about other than with my close friends and my relationship with my parents was very transactional,” he said.

Iyer knew Porowski was famous for being on “Queer Eye,” but his celebrity, unlike most TV stars, doesn’t just come from his talents. It comes from his activism.

Sarah Cutshall | Senior Staff Photographer
Antoni Porowski discusses his thoughts on sexuality at Pitt Program Council’s “An Evening with Antoni Porowski.”

“I knew I needed to talk about ‘Queer Eye,’ of course, but I also knew I needed to talk about the LGBTQIA community,” she said. “Not because of the general public, but rather because I owed it to him, I owed it to the show and I owed it to the community to talk about his experience.”

Porowski himself does not identify as gay like most may believe, but rather “on the sexuality spectrum,” and his sexuality isn’t something that defines his life — but rather enhances it.

When asked about the effects the sudden fame has had on his life, he responded with words about staying true to himself.

“The more that I am myself, and the more that I am honest about my experience,” he said. “That’s usually when I get the good type of attention from the people who can relate to you and make me feel a little less lonely in the world.”

PPC Lecture Director Maddie Ward, a senior marketing and human resources management major, said the planning for this event didn’t follow any of her expectations.

“Last year when I became lecture director, I sat down with our committee members that are Pitt students and was getting ideas for this year,” she said. “Some of the committee members suggested someone from ‘Queer Eye.’ I had never heard of it, but then I saw it and thought that it would be great.”

Porowski’s food expertise made him one of the best options to book as a campus speaker, Ward said.

“I originally just said we wanted someone from ‘Queer Eye.’ I did not seek Antoni specifically, but when Antoni said he would do a cooking demonstration I thought that it was such a great bonus,” she said.

Following a Q&A session with fans, Porowski gave students a lesson on food with tips to make college cooking easier and a cooking demonstration. Questions ranged from how to store sliced onions to how to stay connected to one’s culture through food — which Porowski related to as he formed his love of food from his own Polish heritage.

For the more able college cooks he suggested a rice risotto toasted in a pan with butter, onions, vegetable or meat stock, vegetables and parmesan cheese. However, he did give suggestions to the more microwave-friendly students, such as frozen peas and mint in a bowl or microwaved pasta with heavy cream, grated cheese and peppercorns.

Audience member and senior developmental psychology major Kate Farley was excited to put Porowski’s expertise to the test and make some of the dishes herself.

“I’m definitely going to try the peas and mint. I’m a big frozen peas fan,” she said. “I like how honest he was and how personable he was with the audience.”

Porowski ended by demonstrating the creation of a salad dish from his new restaurant in the West Village, Village Den. The salad consisted of fennel, grapefruit, pistachios and avocados — which are often seen as his signature ingredients. He messily mixed the ingredients together to form his final dish, which he then ate with his hands due to the lack of utensils.

Throughout the night, Porowski used his and his audience’s love of food to answer questions the audience had about life. When someone in the crowd asked him how college students could plan for the future, he responded with a very on-brand pun.

“You don’t have to decide today, sit on your feelings,” he said. “I love sitting in my feelings. I just stew the s— out of that!”