Since I have yet to receive my invite to one of the show's final parties (I'm sure it's in the mail...) I did the next best thing: When Antoni Porowski—Queer Eye's resident food and wine expert—was in town recently to promote his partnership with Vita Coco Sparkling, I took the opportunity to get his best summer entertaining tips. After all, you don't have to be the town mayor or about to propose to your girlfriend to benefit from his advice.
Scroll down to see Porowski's best summer entertaining tips.
Q-Tip 1: Know which pre-prepped foods sit well—and which ones don't
The key to actually enjoying your own shindig is to prep as much of the food in advance as you can. Otherwise, you're going to be stuck in the kitchen, fuming at the sound of everyone's boisterous laughter. But Porowski's thrown enough parties to know that some things keep better than others: "If you want to serve pasta salad—which is a super common summer dish—it's best to use white bleached flour pasta instead of whole wheat because the whole wheat pasta is a little drier," he says.
On the veggie front, Porowski says asparagus, carrots, and peppers all hold up pretty well, while herbs that are typically bought fresh—like cilantro, basil, and parsley—should be added right before party-time. "I also add lemon juice to basically everything before serving it to really brighten up the dish," Porowski says.
Q-Tip 2: Focus on a few, simple ingredients with each dish
Speaking of food prep, Porowski dishes up advice on what to serve: "Winter is for stews, which are like a warm hug, but summer is for meals that are simple, light, and fresh," he says. "I don't want to feel like I'm in a food coma when I'm running around in my swimsuit." For his summer parties, he serves up Mediterranean-style dishes with whatever he finds at the farmers' market.
"Large prawns are also really good on a charcoal grill," he says. "You can keep the marinade really simple with just lemon, lemongrass, ginger, and a little Sriracha and soy sauce." Plus, grilling is something you can do outside while hanging out.
Q-Tip 3: Have fun non-alcoholic drinks on hand
While a lot of your guests are likely going to look forward to being handed a nice, refreshing cocktail, Porowski likes to have some non-alcoholic options available that feel just as special. He starts by making his own simple syrup (1/2 half cup water, 1/2 half coconut sugar) with real fruits and herbs. "I like to combine the homemade simple syrup and sparkling coconut water into a big pitcher and top it off with a lot of vibrant citrus," he says.
Q-Tip 4: Swap sugary mixers for all-natural options
But on to the booze: It's another place Porowski likes to use real fruit in place of sugary mixers. His current obsession is Vita Coco Sparkling (shocking, I know, but he really did wax poetic about it for a good five minutes). "I like to use the same ingredient twice, so if i'm using a grapefruit-flavored sparkling coconut water, I like to put real grapefruit in it, too," he says of his spritzer recipes. "And if I'm using a raspberry and lime flavored one, I'll put fresh raspberries and slices of lime on top." As for the booze: vodka or gin is the (ahem) clear choice because they're lower in calories.
Q-Tip 5: Save some fruit for the grill
Not all of Porowski's fruit are designated drink enhancers. "One of my favorite things to do is throw fruit on the grill," he says. "Grilling pineapple, peaches—or any fruit, really—just tastes so good." It's also pretty difficult to screw up and is a fun way to get your friends involved with meal-prep. (Seriously, why should you be stuck doing all the work?)
All his advice centers on keeping it simple—not extra. Save that for Jonathan, because fingers crossed he shows up.
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