Let me let you in on a little secret: every once in a while, when we’re feeling a little low, the BYT office gets together and re-watches the video for the Belly Laughs show we did with Queer Eye‘s Antoni Porowski and Michelle Buteau last year at Bentzen Ball. The celery sticks in the pockets, the Himalayan salt banter, the genuine tears and laughter, it instantly lights up our day.
So when we heard our favorite corgi lover was in town for the W Washington D.C.‘s grand re-opening, we showed up. The plan was simple: get some fun Antoni summer tips so all of you / us can be as cool and handsome and untouched-by-the-hellscape-that-are-this-week’s-temperatures as he seemed to be. In reality – it mostly worked out (sidebar: it is VERY easy to go off on tangents with Antoni).
BYT: So, as a fair warning – I was going to call this article #HotManSummer. Hope that’s ok? I felt Hot Boy Summer was inappropriate here.
ANTONI: [Laughs] I am also 35, so definitely no boy, or spring chicken.
[Here the conversation quickly detours into birthdays, then astrology (which neither of us knows anything about so there’s little to transcribe), and then psychics, acupuncture and napping – you sort of had to be there, but basically thumbs up on all of the things listed above-ed]
BYT: You are doing GREAT. So, Antoni, what are you up to these days? Season 4 premiere is upon us?
ANTONI: Yes, and I am very excited for that. We’re actually filming season six in Philadelphia now [season five is in Japan – ed]. I don’t really know when any of those are coming out, we’ll probably find out a few weeks in advance, because that’s how Netflix world works. They keep things nice and secretive. Which is kind of nice.
BYT: So, being in Philadelphia made this trip (to D.C.) easy
ANTONI: So easy. I love a good train ride. Especially because I am a bad flyer, even though I’ve gotten much better lately. They do tell me there’s apparently more accidents on trains, but I don’t care?
BYT: I just had an insane Amtrak experience where the power went out in all of New Jersey railways systems and we got stuck outside of Trenton with no information, no nothing. I ended up taking a Lyft to Manhattan because there was no solution in sight.
ANTONI: But at least you were allowed to leave the train. On a plane, you can’t do that.
BYT: Oh man, I don’t even want to think about it. We gotta get back on track here. What are some of your favorite things to do when you travel? I read your Conde Nast Traveller travel tips article, so I know all your obvious favorites.
ANTONI: Some time has passed since then so a lot of things have changed and a lot of things have stayed the same. It’s harder to read – which is something I love to do and read a lot at home. The thing is, all the things I love to do, that I feel passionate about are harder to do when traveling, because they require very diligent planning these days.
ANTONI: Like cooking. I cook a lot less than I used to. I am never home, and even when I am home, it is usually 10-12 hour days and then by the time I am close to my kitchen – I am just ready to order something and conk out.
BYT: I totally get that
ANTONI: But on a train – I made a mission to start reading the NY Times again so I got the subscription, but I’m starting slow…
BYT: Just Sundays?
BYT: Isn’t it kind of bananas she has this deeply intense day job as well? (On top of writing these deeply intense, sweeping novels.)
ANTONI: She is amazing. She also has the most swoonworthy instagram. Very aspirational. Everyone should follow her
ANTONI: So I am actually traveling with last week’s Sunday paper right now, just trying to catch up.
BYT: I am ashamed to admit it, but it is a bit of a losing battle for me. The Sunday paper AND the New Yorker subscription too.
ANTONI: Yes! And then you end up with, like, seven editions of something and you’re taking that around. That’s actually a bit how I travel: I pack too much of one thing and nowhere near enough of many others. The only thing I do pack enough of is scented candles.
BYT: What’s a recent favorite there? Maybe a good summer smell.
ANTONI: A recent favorite is Dyptique’s Figuier, it is just a gorgeous, clean, nice and fresh fig scent.
BYT: I’ve never traveled with a candle. That’s a good pro tip.
ANTONI: Oh, it is the best. Especially if there is a scent that makes you think of home. I like everything
BYT: That’s what I always feel is missing from hotel rooms: a home smell and fresh flowers.
ANTONI: Fresh flowers are really big for me too. Every time I am back in NY for at least 2-3 days, I go to the flower market down the street and go really aggressive on whatever flowers I can find there.
BYT: It is very zen, arranging flowers – very calming. And they die very beautifully.
ANTONI: I love it. And I love deciding what flowers to get, depending on how long I’m around – tulips can last a week, peonies 3-4 days. It is nice to just focus on something like that, a simple task at hand.
BYT: Do you miss being home?
ANTONI: I DO! I miss my bed, my sheets, my towels, just the things that are mine. It does make me appreciate it a lot more these days, when I am there more, I just have this big smile on my face.
BYT: This sounds like you have not been home a lot…
Antoni: Yeah, I mean, we film and then there’s press, and then right after that I am going straight into my cookbook launch. Shameless plug! I have a cookbook coming out this September! And I am going on a big tour for that.
BYT: No, plug away, we’re definitely excited for it. Most of the other Queer Eye guys have done an autobiographical book …
ANTONI: I feel this is still very autobiographical for me, because I am very much an emotional reader. Every recipe in it is very meaningful and there’s a personal story behind every single one. From my Polish heritage which I sort of abandoned for a while because I felt ashamed of where I came from, but am reconnecting with now through food. I think this is a common story with a lot of children of immigrants. Plus, some some recipes that didn’t make it into Queer Eye episodes.
BYT: Oh fun, because, I always feel the food in the show is very much targeted to what the people you’re cooking for can re-create themselves…
ANTONI: Plus, what I realized after two seasons was that while I was creating two to three dishes for every hero, this ISN’T a cooking show. And when you see it cut down to, you know, a two minute cut of guacamole, it is a challenge. But I am obviously going to keep cooking for them, because I think it is an important part of the journey. I am just less precious about it now.
BYT: What’s your relationship with guacamole these days?
ANTONI: It is the same relationship I’ve had with avocados before. It is something that I like, I am NOT obsessed with it. But in this day and age…
BYT: It has been good to you.
ANTONI: It has been very good to me, and I am not complaining or trying to bite the hand that feeds me. But it is… It is something that’s perfectly fine. Do I like cheese more? I do! We’re working on the cheese parts too.
BYT: What is a cookbook you yourself love? We’re obsessed with cookbooks here.
ANTONI: I love Alice Waters, but the first cookbook that I remember being given that really meant something to me was Nigella Lawson’s Feast.
BYT: Nigella Lawson shaped a generation…
ANTONI: Nigella Lawson SHAPED a generation! I feel Americans are not as into Nigella as foreigners are into Nigella.
BYT: Slightly foreign Americans are.
ANTONI: All I remember is her writing about food preparations for shiva and somehow managing to make that seem sensual. She inspired me early on, before I was even cooking or this crazy life started, she made me understand the impact food can have on an individual. I also love me some Ina Garten too, especially Back to Basics.
BYT: Ina Garten’s life is my dream life
ANTONI: Dream life, yes, but also something that makes it feel accessible. It is important food is accessible. I remember someone asked Martha Stewart why she keeps making apple pies every season on her show or on a lot of demos, and she said: “Because they keep asking for it.” The simple stuff is often the best.
BYT: OK, I think we’re out of time so… now for the #HotManSummer tips, lightning round style.
ANTONI: I’m ready
BYT: Best summer book, I know you’re a reader – no one mentions A Little Life if they’re not a reader.
ANTONI Well, I can’t reference that, that’s for sure.
BYT: Not a summer read at all.
ANTONI: Devotion by Patti Smith. I am such a fan of her. Also, a friend told me you should revisit certain books every year. So I am gearing up for Kundera’s Incredible Lightness of Being this fall. But another one for the summer is Salinger’s Franny and Zooey.
BYT: Song of the summer?
ANTONI: My song right now is Maggie Rogers “Light On”
BYT: Something you’re excited about right now, because it is summer:
ANTONI: Peaches! They are my favorite fruit, and when the season is bad they make me just long more for them. Like, when we were filming in Atlanta, it was a bad season for peaches….
BYT: I feel like a bad season for peaches should not be legal in Georgia. Is a bad season even allowed?
ANTONI: But this season is great, and donut peaches are my favorite. Enjoying a peach on a hot summer day is the ultimate decadence.
BYT: I basically relegated myself to the fact that now I spend $40 a week on stone fruit, and that is my life.
ANTONI: Yes, peaches! And also cherries, but PEACHES FIRST. And if it is a perfect bite, then it is a peach half with just a little bit of olive oil and a bit of Jacobson or Maldon salt, a leaf of basil. It is a perfect snack.
BYT: Thank you! Have a great summer!
ANTONI: You too!
ALL THE LINKS:
- Keep and eye on @brightestyoungthings instagram for a quick note from Antoni to you today.
- Queer Eye, season 4 premieres TODAY on Netflix – get your tissue boxes ready.
- W Washington D.C. is officially re-open after their shiny new renovation and if you want to check it out sooner rather than later, we are co-hosting a magical Jeff Mills DJ set this Saturday as part of the Apollo 50 celebrations. FREE – details and RSVP here.