The Queer Eye star wants to help bring the tastes of his favorite country into your kitchen.

By Tanner Saunders
October 22, 2020
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Credit: Peroni

When Netflix rebooted Queer Eye, the world was introduced to a cast of five extraordinary gay men who took social media by storm as they traveled around the country helping everyday folks change their lives for the better. For Canadian chef and heartthrob Antoni Porowski (swoon), the best place to help people rediscover themselves is in the kitchen — or maybe in Italy.

Porowski, author of "Antoni in the Kitchen," recently teamed up with Peroni — the beer created to “embody Italian values of quality, craftsmanship, and style” — to help fans elevate their holidays this season and learn the “Joy of Aperitivo.” With their partnership, the New York Times best-seller (and Corgi-lover) created a series of beer-inspired recipes, like Peroni lemon artichoke dip and birra-braised pork shoulder, that are fun to create at home but transport your mouth and mind to Italy.

Travel + Leisure recently had the chance to chat with Porowski over the phone about the chef’s love and longing for Italy, some handy tricks for stepping up your cooking game, how he’s been staying busy during the pandemic, and his obsession with Peroni’s iconic sailor hat.

Credit: Peroni

Travel + Leisure: How are you holding up during the pandemic? 

“I'm doing well. Like days differ. Some days are better than others. Other days are worse than others. I just try to, as best as I can, keep perspective and focus on things that bring me joy.”

It’s safe to assume Italy brings you joy?

“Italy is by far — I say this as a Polish-Canadian boy — my favorite country. I've always had Italian envy. And so when I found out that Peroni was interested in working together, I got so excited.”

Why is Peroni such an Italian staple that’s transcendent of its homeland?

“It's a fantastic iconic beer with probably the coolest label I've ever seen. The history behind the Nastro Azzurro and of the blue ribbon and the ship that sailed across the Atlantic and all of that romantic stuff — just those iconic campaigns. I bet the Peroni reps are rolling their eyes right now because on every single call, I always tell them how much I love the classic boat hat with the little piece of ribbon that's hanging on either a woman or a man with the little boat shirt. They’re just on a beach somewhere just living that Dolce Vita.

How do you think someone could find their own Dolce Vita in Italy?

“I haven't even scratched the surface of Italy — for such a small country there's so much to see. But one of my very favorites is Pienza. And of course, Florence was fantastic as well. I had some of the best food that I have ever tasted there. I tried pistachio tiramisu for the first time and now I can't have regular tiramisu.

If you end up up North in the Alps area where you have Lake Como, it's just like, the sheer perspective of being on the Lake and then just looking and you have these endless mountains in the background. [In Italy] I just feel like everybody is just so kind and warm and inviting and wherever you go, it's like, you just kind of want to get lost in the little streets.”

Tell us about the beer-inspired recipes you created.

“I love working, but it's when I actually get to be creative and I kind of get to explore new ways of doing things — not unlike what I do on Queer Eye — where I try to teach people different ways of cooking or just of living. They came up with this really fun challenge of basically incorporating Peroni into recipes so I got to lean into my love of Italian food and entertaining for the holidays — and  I know the word entertaining has a very different meaning now than it [did] last year.”

What advice do you have for people who have taken this time at home to start cooking? 

“I always encourage people to learn a very traditional, simple recipe and then figure out how you can tweak it and kind of make it your own.”

Anything else to add? 

“Don't be afraid of making mistakes, the amount of roast chicken that I've screwed up. It's really about progress, not perfection. And knowing that eventually, you're going to get it right.”

What’s the first thing you’re doing once the world starts to return to normal.

“I’m going to get that Peroni hat…and then I'm booking a flight to Italy and I'm just gonna like, eat my way through the entire country.”

Antoni Porowski’s Peroni Lemon Artichoke Dip With Ciabatta Recipe

Credit: Peroni

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsps. real mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsps. fresh lemon juice (juice of one large lemon)
  • 2 tbsps. lemon zest (zest of same large lemon)
  • 14-ounce can of artichoke hearts, drained, roughly chopped and squeezed dry
  • 1 ¼ cups freshly shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup Peroni
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp. Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper (optional)
  • ½ cup roughly chopped basil leaves
  • 8 to 10 slices of ciabatta
  • 2 tbsps. olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add cream cheese, sour cream, mayo, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Stir together with a wooden spoon until smooth.

Add drained artichoke hearts, one cup of parmesan (save the additional ¼ cup for later), mozzarella, Peroni, salt and pepper, Aleppo pepper, and stir until well combined. Fold in basil.

Transfer mixture into a shallow quart-sized, oven-safe crock or pan of your choice. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup of parmesan over the top of the dip and place in the oven. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes until lightly browned and bubbly.

While dip is cooking, cut ciabatta into thin slices and again in half.

Using either a pastry brush or your fingertips, lightly coat both sides of bread with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Bake in oven for eight to 10 minutes until lightly toasted. (Tip: You may want to place in the oven during the last 10 minutes of the dip’s cook time to make sure both come out warm and fresh.)

Tanner Saunders is the associate digital editor of Travel + Leisure. Like Antoni, he loves Italian food and corgis. Follow him on Instagram @tizanner