Antoni Porowski of Netflix's hit show "Queer Eye" has become a force to be reckoned with, both in the kitchen and outside of it.
You know him from the tasty and accessible recipes he brings into the consciousness of the show's "heroes," his infectious laugh (and equally heart-melting cry) and likely from his stunning Instagram presence, too. What you might not know about the food expert, though? He's plant-based for the majority of the week, and has been making a conscious effort to prepare dairy-free meals that retain all the flavor you've come to expect from him.
The breakout star released his first-ever cookbook in September, Antoni in the Kitchen, which reached No.2 on the New York Times Best Sellers list and served as the perfect platform for him to flex his culinary prowess. The project's success also proved that folks are really interested in how Antoni prepares his food.
Thus, Antoni's latest partnership with Country Crock Plant Butter couldn't be more fitting.
The self-professed butter lover is an avid user of Country Crock's newest plant butter, and because its dairy-free flavor derives from olive, avocado or almond oil, it fits perfectly into Antoni's largely plant-based food regimen. The reality star also maintains that it's a crucial part of not sacrificing flavor in the plant-based lifestyle.
Something Antoni also maintains is that food can have a greater significance in our lives than we think, and is more than just what we put in our mouths. Porowski spoke to us about the vulnerability that comes with sharing his "secrets," via recipes and otherwise, and the responsibility he feels to share his stories -- and the stories of others -- to help make everyone feel a bit less alone.
On why he's excited about Country Crock's Plant Butter:
"Butter is something that a lot of people use - or substitutes for it - and I love that something as iconic as Country Crock, something all of my American friends know and used growing up, is changing things up. I love somebody who takes something that's so traditional and really adapts it to the changing times and where we're headed as a society. A lot of people are choosing plant-based options and not using as much dairy, whether it's a personal choice or due to dietary needs. I just really appreciate it! I think it's really cool that [Country Crock] is so steeped in tradition, and it's always been a great product, but they decided - no, it's 2019, let's continue to be part of the conversation."
His advice for people who are considering going plant-based:
"During the week I'm more plant-based and during the weekend is when I tend to indulge, but what I really love is when Country Crock came up, and we started having more discussions, I realized that before this, I kind of thought dietary changes had to be aggressive. That's just not the case! I think people get intimidated when they're trying to implement something new in their life, like moving towards a plant-based diet. But really, you can start with small changes and it's sort of like softening the blow at first, which is kind of accommodating, in a way. It doesn't have to be this big dramatic thing all at once. Do what you can, little by little."
On how he uses this plant-based butter in his daily meals:
"The good thing about this product is that it really does taste like butter, and more importantly, it cooks like it. In fact, it has a higher burning point than normal butter, so you don't have to worry about burning anything. Like case and point, when I make salmon fillets... I coat the skin with a little bit of flour -or not - and I use about a tablespoon and a half of the plant butter, which is more than enough for 2-3 fillets in a pan. Brussel sprouts, literally any veggies that you're sautéing, to even a sandwich -- whatever you use traditional butter for you can swap it. It's a one for one ratio, and it perfectly adapts to your dietary needs."
On why he chooses to be largely plant-based:
"There are multiple factors. One is, I opened up a restaurant a year ago and when we first started developing the menu, I had a lot of dairy in it, but when we started to really build out the concept that we wanted to create, which was healthy fast-casual, we thought about how a lot of people are working dairy out of their diets. So keeping that in mind made me a little more open to a plant-based diet. And then secondly, everyone has their vices... for me, it's always been dairy. I'm not here to hate on it, but it's something that I definitely consume probably more than the average human. And what I learned is that when I do limit it... from a vanity perspective, full-disclosure, it's changed my body, among other things!"
On his cookbook:
"On 'Queer Eye,' we teach the heroes how to make something... and it gets edited down to about two minutes at most if we're lucky because there's so much great content we need to fit into one episode. Because of that, I don't think I really had much of an opportunity to showcase recipes and detail. The cookbook was an opportunity, because I have a platform now, for me to share my story through food. The only way I know how to do that is to be personal. It was my first one, and we all kind of worked together - my brothers and my cast mates. I wasn't interested in writing about my life personally yet... I don't feel like I'm quite there, because I think I have a bit of living to do. But through food, that was a story I was ready to tell, and I really wanted to."
On being vulnerable, and sharing parts of himself with the world:
"[Sharing my personal recipes with the world] is not unlike the feeling of when I share something that's personal, or a little more intimate on the show; it's then no longer my secret. It was once something I shared as a private citizen with friends of mine, with my therapist, with mentors, with family, and now it's something that's shared with the world. Because of that, it always is a little happy-sad. Sad because it's no longer just mine because you're giving a part of yourself up with everything that you do. But on the flip side, the stories I hear when I get to bump into people at public speaking events, or even just on the street, people will say 'I really related to you talking about sexuality with AJ in season one episode four, where you talked about the fact that you're actually fluid.' Or, 'I loved that you discussed complicated relationships with family members,' etc. It makes people feel less alone, and I think we need a lot of that.
I think a lot of struggles that people have, they always think that they're the only ones going through it when they're not. I'm learning that the responsibility I now have is to share those stories. Tying it back to the cookbook, I want people to make my recipes - that's great - but I also want people to explore their own memoir."