This Irish Chef Claims Netflix Replaced Him With Antoni Porowski on ‘Queer Eye’ at the Last Minute

Finding out you lost a sure-fire Netflix job through an Instagram post — now that’s a real poke in the Queer Eye.

On his podcast Don’t Let It Stu this week, Irish celebrity chef Stuart O’Keeffe revealed a new twist in the ongoing drama over Netflix’s Queer Eye reboot: allegedly, he was the original choice to be the lifestyle makeover show’s food expert, and was replaced at the very last minute by Antoni Porowski.

“I actually got chosen. Like, I was one of the Five,” O’Keeffe told his guest, comedian and actor Zack Peter. In 2017, O’Keeffe said, he was informed by producers that he and the rest of his group — Tan France, Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, and Jonathan Van Ness — were officially cast for the rebooted reality show, and that the words “You’re the Fab Five” were used.

“I was like, ‘Holy shit,’” O’Keeffe recalled. “We all went outside the room — like, screaming, jumping up and down. I was like, ‘Hey, let’s get a photograph. This is such a great moment for us all.’”

Entertainment Weekly published the photograph and it does indeed show the Fab Five we all know, apart from one notable exception: Porowski is not present and O’Keefe is smiling next to France.

In the following weeks, however, while the other four cast members received contracts for the imminent start of filming, O’Keeffe says he did not. Two days after a cast dinner (that France allegedly did not attend), O’Keeffe said that production executives made the decision to go with Porowski instead.

“My agent called me and he was like, ‘Look, I know this sounds totally kind of shitty, but they said you have done too much stuff,’’” O’Keeffe explained. “Like, I was on the Today show, I was on Rachael Ray, because I had a cookbook out, and I had done multiple shows before, whereas the other four hadn’t, so they kind of wanted everyone on the same level.” But he didn’t know the decision was final until Porowski’s casting was publicly announced on Instagram, he says. “I was like, ‘Fine, I’ll just cry for the next year.’”

The Private Chefs of Beverly Hills star went on to disparage Porowski’s somewhat infamous guacamole episode, and referenced rumors that Porowski, a self-professed home cook who never attended culinary school, took cooking lessons while filming the show’s first season. He also alleged that Porowski’s mentor and former employer, original Queer Eye for the Straight Guy cast member Ted Allen, had refused to promote the new show at all unless Porowski was cast. In a 2018 interview with Vanity Fair, Allen defended Porowski’s skills but seemingly admitted he’d put his finger on the scale: “I texted Antoni’s information and a link to his Web site to [show creator] David [Collins], and his response was, ‘Yowza, handsome!’”

O’Keeffe’s shade comes amid a storm of revelations about backstage politics and alleged toxicity at the core of Netflix’s Queer Eye. According to a Rolling Stone report earlier this month, multiple sources described Van Ness’ behavior behind the scenes as “abusive,” with “rage issues” that inhibited his ability to film with other stars, including Berk, who announced his departure from the show last year. Reports have also claimed that France lobbied to have Berk replaced with Jeremiah Brent, who was announced as Berk’s replacement in February; France has flatly denied those rumors.

This likely won’t be the last time O’Keeffe sounds off on the Queer Eye drama, as he teased a possible future episode with Berk during the segment.

“I haven’t spoken to Bobby about [the allegations],” O’Keeffe told Peters. “I know, I have to hit him up.”

Get the best of what’s queer. Sign up for Them’s weekly newsletter here.