Hot rod tartar. Plated Pogos. Deconstructed drumsticks and gas station muffins.
For one year, “Chef Jacques La Merde” sent Instagram foodies into a gleeful tizzy. Elevating snacks from pedestrian munchies to fine art one beautifully plated dish at a time, he became known for his cheeky posts, penchant for foodie terms, over-sharing about his love life and incredible plating skills.
But one question remained: who was he?
On Thursday, all was revealed. Chef Jacques La Merde — not a he but a she — is Toronto’s very own: Christine Flynn, the executive chef for iQ Food Co.
“I thought it would be funny. That’s all,” writes Flynn in the Bon Appétit article admitting she’s the force behind the account. “No deeper meaning, no hidden agendas other than making people laugh and carving out a small spot on the internet where I could just be a giant goofball.”
She writes that the account brought together her three great loves: food, art and irony.
Flynn describes the account as a side project — one with 100,000 followers — “where a bumbling, slightly hysterical chef makes ‘fine-dining’ food with low-brow ingredients and lovingly points out some of the more ridiculous norms of current dining trends.”
But La Merde goes deeper too.
Flynn writes about a time two years ago when she felt off balance, left questioning her role in the industry after she switching jobs and moving from Nantucket to Toronto.
“After months of feeling lost, creating the account, creating Jacques, made me feel like I’d got my soigné back,” she writes. “Shooting the photos. . . was almost cathartic.”
Fans felt something too.
“Fans seemed to admire Jacques’s cluelessness and blatant disregard for culinary convention. He defied the norm, and was endlessly and enthusiastically optimistic,” she writes, noting that she conversed with curious Instagrammers via direct messages, sending them career tips and restaurant recommendations.
Flynn doesn’t call La Merde her alter ego, but more of a reflection of herself. They’re both “loud, flawed, clumsy, romantically disastrous and a bit sloppy,” she admits.
But where La Merde retains his unfailingly earnest approach to all things food, Flynn sees fun.
“Food is a very political thing and it’s important to be aware of how we shape the market, but at the same time, do you remember how hilarious it was as a kid to put Bugles on your fingers and chase your brother around?” she writes. “Those were magical times and I wanted to bring a little bit of that back into a world full of tired mesclun salads and people who refuse to eat bread.”