The untold truth of Antoni Porowski

Antoni Porowski is the quietest member of the Fab Five, but he's also somehow the one who attracts the most controversy. However, whether he can actually cook or not seems irrelevant when he's that nice to look at (stay off his Instagram page — it's like quicksand), but the debate rages on. Aside from being arguably the most beautiful man ever to grace our television screens, Porowski is a proud immigrant, a proud Canadian, and a proud connoisseur of all things edible. 

Although Porowski features on one of the most vocally gay-positive shows of all time, he often struggles with his own identity. There's a keen sense that he doesn't want to be put in a box or to give too much away about himself, in spite of his burgeoning celebrity. If nothing else, Porowski is, first and foremost, himself. Everything else is a matter of perspective. 

This is the untold truth of Queer Eye's food and wine guy who, it goes without saying, is more than just a TV chef (if even that). 

He was almost Antoni Porter

Porowski was actually the first member of his family born outside of Europe, having been born in Montreal, Canada. As he discussed on his episode of co-star Jonathan Van Ness' podcast, Getting Curious, Porowski's mother was born in Warsaw, Poland along with both of his sisters, while his father was born in Brussels, Belgium. Although the reality star is very proud of being an immigrant and, by his own admission, of growing up in multicultural Montreal, he initially struggled with his identity because of his surname.

Porowski regaled Van Ness with stories of sharing food from different backgrounds at school potluck dinners and of how important holding onto customs and ancestry is to Canadians in contrast to Americans. However, he revealed that he had quietly considered changing his surname to something more American — like Porter or Portman — in order to fit in better. Thankfully, Porowski opted not to do so. Now that he, as a TV star with an instantly recognizable Polish name, gets so many supportive messages from gay Polish men, he's glad to have the moniker. 

His parents don't know what he majored in

Although he's probably used to people assuming he has a lack of formal education in the culinary arts, there's more of a story to Porowski's college life than one might assume. As he admitted during a hilariously frank group chat with Vulture, in which the whole Queer Eye cast took part, Porowski actually graduated with an entirely different major than what his own parents had thought. 

While the Fab Five discussed mentors who had made a significant impact on their lives, Porowski admitted that a professor of his, who also headed the theater department, encouraged him to act upon discovering that Porowski was failing all of his classes (he was majoring in commerce at the time). Porowski said, after finding his footing, "I ended up graduating in creative arts, and my parents still don't know to this day. They think I graduated from commerce." Well, they probably do know now

He shows love through food

Although the rebooted Queer Eye is ostensibly a makeover show, anybody who actually watches it will know that it's so much more than that. And nowhere is that more obvious than in its "food and wine" guy's passionate discussions about the series and his role in it. "It's a service show," he told Elle simply of Queer Eye. "It's a service job, to figure out how we can cater to these people."

It makes sense that Porowski would see things this way considering how he is the kind of guy who spends the majority of a party in his comfort zone: the kitchen. "If I'm at someone's house and I'm not going to be cooking … I love doing the dishes at the end," he explained. Porowski has always showed love through food, even if it results in a solitary existence for him. "Nobody helps me. That's just who I am. I don't know how to be any other way," he admitted. 

English is not his first language

With a surname like Porowski, it's obvious that the Queer Eye star comes from a diverse background. Aside from being the first in his family to be born outside of Europe, he also counts Polish as his first language rather than English. As he told co-star Van Ness on his Getting Curious episode, and later demonstrated by speaking a little bit on the spot to JVN's audible delight, Porowski can rattle off Polish well enough to engage with the locals. 

He can typically discuss his journey with cab drivers and gab about their surroundings. However, when the conversation turns political, he finds himself a bit lost. The TV chef prides himself on his accent, but he admits that his vocabulary is diminishing the longer he spends living and working in a predominantly English-speaking country. Ever the over-achiever, however, Porowski also speaks French fluently, having spent the first part of his life living in Montreal.   

He doesn't consider himself gay, bi, or straight

Antoni Porowski initially struggled with being cast on Queer Eye because he doesn't actually consider himself to be traditionally gay. As Porowski admitted in his May 2018 Gay Times cover story, "I've always considered myself a little more fluid along the spectrum." However, the foodie doesn't consider himself bisexual or straight either. If he could have it his way, there wouldn't be any labels for what or who he is besides simply "Antoni." 

Of his current situation, he remains reticent. "Today I'm gay, I'm in a gay relationship, and that's where I am. That's good enough for me," Porowski explained simply. And, as he admitted in his February 2018 interview with GQ, he's actually had more "real" relationships with women than men, only counting two gay relationships over the course of his life. As far as Porowski is concerned, it's all love.  

He never really came out

One of the most moving segments on Queer Eye to date — which is quite the accomplishment, given how easily the show elicits tears — showcased each of the Fab Five's coming out stories. Porowski claimed he had come out to his father via text message but, as he revealed to GQ, that wasn't actually the case. "I never really had a coming out. … He [Porowski's father] made a comment driving me to the airport that I certainly lead a very discreet life," he revealed.

Porowski then decided to send an email before takeoff, telling his father that he was living with his boyfriend and he was very happy. "'You brought this up. I think it's time I tell you: I love. I am loved. His name is Joey, and we live together.' That was it," he recalled. As the TV chef explained to GQ, his sexuality is something very private to him, so he didn't feel the need to "come out" in any formal sense. 

He had a difficult time after moving to the U.S.

After spending his formative years in the multicultural Montreal, Porowski's family upped and moved to West Virginia. Young Porowski was in seventh grade at the time and found the transition into American schooling difficult — particularly because he could speak multiple languages, which was something the other kids didn't understand or appreciate. As Porowski detailed to Van Ness on Getting Curious, even his teacher took issue with his linguistic abilities. She wondered why he didn't just speak English like everybody else. 

Porowski was also the subject of xenophobic comments about Canadians living in Teepees, as well as a general misunderstanding that immigrants weren't just people fleeing their home countries out of fear. He was even called an alien and picked on for his super-healthy, ethnically diverse school lunches. The young man soon surrounded himself with like-minded peers and stopped caring about what others thought. Although careful not to bash West Virginia, Porowski did note that the bullying had an effect on his cultural identity, at least for a while. 

He got a leg up from a Queer Eye alum

As noted by Elle, Porowski's career aspirations never included Queer Eye, or even anything like it. After college, Porowski moved to NYC to focus on auditioning, and he waited tables to support himself financially. A chance meeting with Ted Allen, the original "food guy" from Queer Eye's first inception, led Porowski to a job as a personal assistant and a mentorship that would change his life.   

It was actually Allen who suggested he go out for the reboot (but, as Elle noted, it was Porowski's very personalized and quite lengthy description of his ideal last meal that landed him the job). "Because I didn't have a master plan for this, I'm kind of rolling with the punches," Porowski admitted. "I had a bit of impostor syndrome in the beginning, where I felt like I wasn't gay enough or didn't deserve to have this public position. So I said yes to everything." The rest is history. 

He doesn't care if you don't think he can cook

Each member of the Fab Five serves a purpose … except Antoni Porowski. At least, according to the Internet, where there's been plenty of discussion about whether or not Porowski can actually cook thanks, in large part, to his super simple recipes on the show. The fledgling chef himself acknowledged to Elle that Queer Eye isn't about him, explaining, "The show is not a vehicle for me to proverbially jerk off my skills. That's not the purpose of the show."

Porowski got into it further with NME, acknowledging that he's never claimed to be a professional chef. Rather, he's a food lover and creative who simply wants to share with others. "I am someone who food has been a constant in my life, and it's been a passion, it's something that I've constantly studied, and I'm constantly trying to better my craft, and that's good enough for me. And I know the people who eat my food really enjoy it, and those are the people who matter at the end of the day," he stated. 

He's still figuring out who he is

Given how Antoni Porowksi grew with a recognizably different surname than his American peers and struggled with his sexuality, it's not surprising to learn he is still figuring out his identity. As the reality star admitted to GQ, he often finds himself feeling jealous of co-star Jonathan Van Ness, who just is who he is. "You look at somebody like Jonathan, who I envy the comfort that he has in his own skin. With him … he's just Jonathan, and he's always that same person. I've had a lot of shifts. It's been more of a metamorphosis and figuring out who I am, and I still think that I'm on that path," he revealed. 

Porowski feels slightly more comfortable in his own skin since Queer Eye, with those close to him even noting how much "gayer" he's become since appearing on the show. Although Porowski has no regrets about the life he's lived, he feels like he's still learning when it comes to his own identity and his place in gay culture.