The Student Union Board of Governors (SUBOG) did something amazing Wednesday: They brought in Antoni Porowski to teach UConn students how to cook. Avid “Queer Eye” fans from across campus, and as far away as Moscow, Russia, tuned in to a livestream of Antoni talking to moderator Christine Jorquera — a fifth-semester psychology and human rights major and member of SUBOG Major Weekends — about life, eggs and our favorite show.
“I’m super passionate about creating fun experiences and memories for UConn students – especially during the hectic time we’re living through — and watching everyone’s excitement while marketing the Antoni event made me so happy,” Ashley Brown, a fifth-semester marketing major and the vice chair of marketing for SUBOG Special Events, said.
Although SUBOG didn’t release the name of the dish beforehand, they did give out a list of ingredients and equipment viewers would need to follow along. And, of course, I wanted to cook alongside him so that I could pretend to be one of his “heroes” that he has to teach to cook in an episode of “Queer Eye.” As it turned out, the dish was simply soft scrambled eggs. When I first realized this, I was a little concerned that the Antoni critics would take this as proof of the fallacy that he doesn’t know how to cook. But after seeing his gourmet kitchen on camera and tasting my own rendition of his recipe, I confirmed what I already knew: Antoni is amazing. I have never liked eggs, but his scrambled eggs — without the addition of cheese or the assistance of toast — are some of the best I have ever tasted.
Antoni had a few egg tricks up his sleeves that I had never heard of before, but I suppose that’s what happens when you get obsessed with mastering soft scrambled eggs during quarantine, as he said toward the beginning of the call. First of all, he let his eggs sit out for 10 to 15 minutes. According to him, this makes eggs noticeably creamier than when they’re cooked straight out of the refrigerator. Next he taught us how to destroy his pet-peeve: egg “umbilical cords.”
“There’s this part of an egg that looks like an umbilical cord — I thought it was an umbilical cord for a really long time, but apparently it’s just an extra sack — and it kind of looks like this stringy, chewy part,” Antoni said. “And since I’m making soft scrambled eggs, I don’t like to chew on that.”
Instead, Antoni plopped his three eggs into a strainer over a bowl. This causes the eggs to strain through, leaving the undesirable “umbilical cords” behind. This also helps to get rid of egg shells.
“I got a little piece of shell,” Antoni said, excitedly. “See, it’s stuck in there! So I don’t have to worry about crunching on extra unnecessary calcium.”
Antoni then whisked his eggs and added one teaspoon or tablespoon of water — chef’s choice — per two eggs he cooked with. Since his recipe called for three eggs, this meant he added one-and-a-half teaspoons/tablespoons to his mixture. Otherwise, he didn’t add any other seasonings just yet. He said that adding salt to eggs before they cook can cause a weird sort of separating to happen.
“Water is going to help them steam and become really creamy,” Antoni said.
Antoni then threw about a tablespoon of butter into a nonstick pan over medium high heat, spread it around and then poured his eggs in. As they cooked, he used a rubber scraper to swirl the eggs around the pan in a zig-zag motion. Although this was good advice, his movements were hard to follow, as his eggs cooked miraculously fast. It seemed like they were done in seconds, and he had to cook most of it off the heat.
“Okay, no joke, my eggs are ready,” Antoni said after thirty seconds of cooking, while holding his pan a good foot away from the burner. “It literally took a minute. I had it on slightly higher heat than I usually do, because I wasn’t paying attention, but they still look fine.”
He then poured his eggs into a bowl and mixed in a couple pinches of salt and an “aggressive” amount of pepper. But not before giving his two cents on the ground versus unground pepper debate.
“Have you ever used ground pepper for anything?” Antoni asked his friend off-screen. “It’s horrible. I don’t even have it either. It’s just flavorless. It’s a horrible waste. It is disrespectful to the life of the peppercorn. What you want to do is get a pepper mill.”
He finished it off with a handful of chopped chives, before mixing the seasonings with the eggs. Five minutes later, I finished up my own eggs and gave them a taste: Amazing, creamy, flavorful and soft. The simple seasonings of the dish were made exceptional by the quality and texture of the final product. Antoni then garnished his with Trader Joe’s “Everything but the Bagel Sesame” seasoning.
“Antoni knows how to make just about any food sound delicious,” Jorquera said. “I definitely took some tips on how to fix my scrambled eggs. I will definitely be taking a trip to Trader Joe’s and grabbing an Everything bagel seasoning.”
Unfortunately, he then added a disreputable amount of ketchup.
“Woah — it just poured out there,” Antoni said as he accidentally dumped nearly a cup of ketchup onto his eggs. “Oh this is such a mess, and I can’t hide it cause you guys are watching. I’m going to mix it up, so it will be fine.”
As both Antoni and his UConn viewers began to tuck into their bowls of soft scrambled eggs, Jorquera began facilitating the Q&A session. Since none of us viewers could talk directly to Antoni, SUBOG had asked us to submit questions a few days in advance for Jorquera to read. Many of his answers helped explain a lot about him and his role on the show.
Antoni explained the reason “Queer Eye” is mainly in Republican-majority states is “to turn the red states pink.”
“The purpose of the show is sometimes we go into these homes and — I’ll say it — we’ve seen Trump banners, we’ve seen — as a Canadian I get really uncomfortable around guns — I’ve seen guns in people’s homes; something I’m not really used to,” Antoni said. “But our point is to connect with these people. It’s not to start a fight or start a political debate or whatever it is. It’s to go and figure out what we actually have in common.”
Antoni also briefly addressed his reputation as a bad cook. He said that when he first started on the show, he didn’t understand video editing. So although certain episodes would depict him only making one simple dish, he was actually doing a lot more behind the scenes.
“Case and point, Tom Jackson — when I was coined the guac/avocado guy — we actually did a full three-course meal where he had a flank steak marinated in lemon juice and oregano, and we did a whole salsa that was Lupas-free,” Antoni said. “I’m not a physician but I know there are foods that are inflammatory like nightshade, so we eliminated tomatoes and garlic, and we used jícama and corn and different things like that. But none of that made it, only the guac made it. I am not resentful at all.”
All in all, I like to think I feel as connected with Antoni after watching his livestream, as his heroes do on “Queer Eye.” I will treasure his eggs recipe and our one-sided, hour-long eye contact forever. That being said, everyone who attended the event was likely as jealous as me of Jorquera’s ability to talk to Antoni directly.
“It was such an incredible experience speaking with Antoni!” Jorquera said. “I’ve been a fan of him since ‘Queer Eye’ came out, and his ability to connect and speak with people is so heartwarming. The fact I was able to connect with him on a personal level throughout the event meant a lot to me.”
Considering this event was virtual, SUBOG was still able to make it feel incredibly inclusive and fun. It really did feel like a one-on-one session with Antoni.
“I think the event was very successful!” Brown said. “The student body seemed excited about the event, and everyone I had talked to said they enjoyed it. We also had no technical difficulties on our end, which is always refreshing during this time of virtual events! I had a lot of fun. My roommates and I all had a crazy busy week, so it was a nice way to come together at the end of the day, enjoy watching the event, feel connected to the UConn community, and make a meaningful memory – which is exactly SUBOG’s purpose and mission.”
Here’s to hoping SUBOG brings more of the cast of “Queer Eye” to campus in the future!