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THE VIP LOUNGE

Antoni Porowski on missing vacations and the superiority of New England clam chowder

Antoni Porowski
Antoni Porowski

Known as the resident food and wine expert on the Emmy Award-winning Netflix series “Queer Eye,” Antoni Porowski loves trying new foods when he travels — especially in Italy, where he admires people’s warmth and generosity when it comes to sharing their food. During the pandemic, Porowski, 36, said he’s been cooking up a storm at the Manhattan home he shares with his foster rescue pit bull-beagle mix Neon. A longtime partner in the Gloucester-based Gorton’s Seafood, he has been experimenting with the company’s offerings, creating dishes like Thai-inspired fish cakes. And while the Montreal native is now a bona fide New Yorker, he said that coming to New England, where his dad lives, “always feels like I’m coming home.” He also stated, “There’s no debate” when it comes to clam chowder: New England tops Manhattan. We caught up with Porowski to talk about all things travel.

Favorite vacation destination? I’ve never missed vacationing as much as I do these days. When I look back on my most memorable trip, I would have to say it was Italy. Everyone and everything is just so effortlessly elegant. There’s a warmth and kindness in the people — and how they share their food — I just really admire.

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Favorite food or drink while vacationing? So many to mention here. I was in the Caribbean last year and for lunch one day I tried these incredible fish cakes. Back at home, I riffed on a couple of the elements and created a Thai-inspired version with Gorton’s wild-caught Alaska pollock, red curry paste, and fish sauce with a chunky sweet chili dipping sauce.

Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? East Asia and parts of Africa are definitely on my bucket list, as are the Nazca lines in Peru. When I was younger, I was hustling and trying to build a career. Now that I have one, maintaining it takes up most of my time. That said, I do see travel as a priority and want to focus on it more once it is safe to travel overseas.

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One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? These days I can’t leave my home without one mask on and one in my backpack. It’s more important than my headphones, and my headphones are very important to me.

Aisle or window? Window, definitely. I love looking at the bright lights of the towns and cities below at night while I listen to moody tunes.

Favorite childhood travel memory? I was lucky to travel with my parents a decent amount as a kid. I would have to say escaping the harsh Canadian winters to either Mexico or the Dominican Republic were my favorites because I basically would spend the entire week in the ocean or the pool. I also enjoyed it when my parents would travel without us kids, so we’d be left to make our own dinners. One of my faves was classic Gorton’s fish sticks with loads of ketchup and a side of buttered and salted peas.

Guilty pleasure when traveling? Dessert and carbs. In France, I’ll have a croissant with butter every morning. In Italy, it’s gelato.

Best travel tip? Have an itinerary with places you want to see, but also make sure to block out some free time to explore and get lost. That’s usually when all of my favorite discoveries happen.

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