Yes, THE @chefjacqueslamerde. From Instagram. And the results are just as charming and entertaining as you hope they’ll be.
Chef Jacques La Merde is a modern BRO in an unknown town, the chef of an unnamed restaurant, alongside sous chef “José” and an occasional intern. His Instagram posts, of which there have been 26 since his February 2015 debut, have caught the attention of chefs and food-lovers around the world, and now the Instafamous figure is just shy of 60,000 followers, hanging on his every plate.
UH OH BROS !!! DRS VISIT FRYDAY DID NOT GO WELL !!!! APPARNTLY I HAVE A PROBLEM W/ MY CHOLESTROL AND IM MAYBE A LITTLE DIABETIC !!!! SO I NEED 2 EAT LESS MEAT FOODS AND MORE LEGUMES AN HOLE GRAINS LIKE CORN, SOY AND TOAST !!!!!! KRAFT HANDI-SNAK WITH ACCOUTREMENTS OF KALE CHIPS, RANCH CORN NUTS, YYVES VEGGIE-BOLOGNA, STRUBBS SANDWICH SAVER PICKLE!!! REINFORCED W/ THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSIN !!!! #drsorders #stillsoigné #theartofplating #gastroart #plateswagger #foodporn #chefsofig #healthy #eattherainbow #kale
It’s his ingredients, bizarre and hilarious, plated with sophistication and tweezery precision, that have brought so much attention to the newly-beloved chef. His plates are, at times, gorgeous achievements in contemporary technique with ingredients like Handi-Snaks, Domino’s chicken wings, Powerade, and “Fruity Mentos.”
But what makes the character enjoyable, downright charming in fact, is the voice. The voice in the captions is loud (always in caps), busy, sometimes a bit frenzied, recalling the pressures of being a chef in a small, fine dining restaurant–the Yelp reviews, injured sous chefs, bumbling interns, and mispicks from Sysco. Despite the candor, there’s a distinct positivity to him; and when he comments on the posts of other chefs on Instagram, it’s to commend them on particularly “soigné” plates. Whoever Jacques La Merde IS, he is clearly someone who gets the industry inside and out; and for that reason, we decided to ask him a few questions about the food he loves, his advice for young chefs, and what it’s like to be so soigné.
WHY NECI INTERN WHYYYY? WHY DID U DECIDE 2 CLEAN THE PACO JET OVER THE DISH PIT AND THEN ACCIDENTALLY DROP IT ???!!!! SUBBING OUR USUAL BUTTERNUT PUREE W/ GERBER BABY FOOD 2NITE!! ALSO JALAPEÑO POPPERS, PEPPERONI STICK BRUNOISE, BIG Y MACARONI SALAD, FLAVOR BLASTED GLDFISH GRAVEL + 63 DEGREE NOMIKU YOLK. #internurfired #foodporn #finedining #gastroart #wildchefs #theartofplating #plateswagger #cheflife #truecooks #jalapenopoppers #nomiku #pepperonistick #rippacojet
What are some of your earliest food memories?
Jacques La Merde: I REMEMBER BEING A REALLY SMALL DUDE, LIKE 3 OR 4, AND I HAD MY FIRST RUN IN W/ A FRUIT ON THE BOTTOM YOGURT. I REALISED, EVEN AT THAT AGE, THAT I HAD A CHOICE, AND THAT IF I WANTED, THE FRUIT COULD ACTUALLY BE ON TOP. THAT’S THE MOMENT I KNEW I WANTED TO BE A CHEF.
What food is comfort food for you?
JLM: YO I REALLY LOVE IT WHEN JOSE COOKS FOR ME. USUALLY ITS RED BEANS AND RICE W/ CUT UP HOT DOGS. MAYBE A LITTLE VALENTINA SAUCE AND A FRIED EGG. ITS REALLY MORE THE SENTIMENT THAT COUNTS. WHEN SOMEONE WHO DEEPLY CARES ABOUT U COOKS FOR U, THAT LOVE IS THE BEST FLAVOR OF ALL. LIKE SOME PPL TALK ABOUT UMAMI, BUT THIS GOES BEYOND THE 7TH FLAVOR. ITS LIKE THE 8TH OR 9TH FLAVOR OR SOMETHING.
BROS BROS BROS!!!! HOLLA AT US IF UR LOOKING TO GET THE MEAT SWEATS 2NITE!!! THIS IS A DUO OF POGOS W/ MARBLE CHEEZE SLICES, HONEY HAM ROSETTES, SPONGEBOB SQRPANTS ZOODLES AND MUSTARD TEARS!!!! #meatsweats #pogos #soigné #foodporn #theartofplating #truecooks #gastroart #hipsterfoodies #plateswagger #honeyham #innovation #chefsofig #finedining #foodart
When did you start cooking?
JLM: YO MY MUM WAS A PRETTY BUSY LADY, AND SHE WAS ALSO V. SMART SO SHE USED TO MAKE ME THE WORST SCHOOL LUNCHES EVER. LIKE EVERYONE WOULD HAVE PBJ OR MAYBE LIKE A LUNCHABLES AND I’D HAVE LEFTOVER INDIAN TAKEOUT. I DIDN’T REALISE AT THE TIME, BUT THIS WAS TOTALLY INTENTIONAL B/C SHE RLLY DIDN’T WANT TO MAKE ME LUNCHES, AND SHE KNEW IF SHE MADE THEM BAD ENOUGH, I’D OFFER TO DO IT MYSELF. SO I STARTED GETTIN REAL W/ FOOD AS SOON AS I COULD OPEN A KRAFT SINGLE. BY THE TIME I FINISHED HIGH SCHOOL, I WAS MAKIN SOME PRETTY TIGHT STUFF; CARVING TOMATOES INTO ROSES, MAKIN MY OWN COMPOUND BUTTERS, MICROWAVIN LEANCUISINES ETC.
Tell me about your early career. Were there any chefs that were particularly helpful to you in the early days?
JLM: MOST OF MY CHEFS SEEMED LIKE JERKS AT THE TIME. I WAS NOT A BIG DUDE YET SO I GOT PICKED ON, AND PPL TRIED TO “BREAK ME IN” BY GIVIN ME IMPOSSIBLY HEAVY STUFF TO LIFT, OR HANDING ME HOT SIZZLERS (DARRICK IM STILL MAD ABOUT THAT!!!) I TRIED TO JUST STAY OUT OF THE WAY, WASH A LOT OF DISHES AND MOVE FAST. LOOKING BACK, THOSE PPL WERE HARD ON ME BECUZ THEY KNEW I COULD TAKE IT, AND IF U WANT TO BE IN THIS INDUSTRY, ITS NOT ALL SOIGNE PLATES AND FIST BUMPS. ITS MORE LIKE SCRUBBIN OUT THE WALKIN AT 3 AM AND CRYING IN DRY STORAGE WHEN NO ONE IS LOOKING, WITH SOME SOLID DISHES IN BETWEEN IF UR LUCKY.
WHOS READY 4 SRVICE ???!!! BOOM WE'VE GOT THE BLINK 182 BLASTING AND ARE READY TO GRILL IT AND THRILL IT 2NITE !!! READY 2 EAT JIMMY DEAN SAUSAGE W/ CANNED SPRING VEG, FRENCH'S, FRITOS HOOPS + PISTACHIO SOIL. PALATE CLEANSING SHOT OF FERMENTED LAKE MICHIGAN WATER W/ NUTISIONAL YEAST RIM !!!! #wildchefs #foodporn #theartofplating #gastroart #finedining #fermentation #hoops #seasonal #plateswagger #truecooks #soigné #blink182
Tell me about your restaurant now. How did your team come together?
JLM: WE HAVE AN INTERN ONCE IN AWHILE, BUT MOSTLY JOSE AND I JUST RIDE THE GRIND AND CRUSH PREP AND SERVICE 2GETHER. I DONT WANT 2 WORK W/ SOMEONE WHO HAS SOMETHING TO PROVE, I WANT 2 WORK W/ JOSE CUZ HE JUST WANTS TO WORK AND THERES NO BULLSHIT. IT IS HARRRRRRRRD 2 FIND GOOD COOKS NOW. YOU GET THESE KIDS COMING OUT OF SOME OVERPRICED CULINARY SCHOOL, WITH THIS MASSIVE KNIFE ROLL AND AN EVEN BIGGER EGO, AND THEY WANT 2 MAKE LIKE $16/HR. LIKE, SORRY KID, APPARENTLY CIA FAILED TO MENTION THAT U START AT THE BOTTOM, AND U HAVE 2 EARN YOUR LIVING WAGE LIKE THE REST OF US.
What inspires you to use a certain ingredient?
JLM: I HAVE RLLY GRT PURVEYORS. THEY BRING ME STUFF THEY KNOW I LIKE, OR THAT MAYBE NO OTHER CHEFS IN TOWN WOULD WANT TO USE. SOMETIMES I GET LOCAL FARMERS, OR JUST, LIKE, PPL FROM THE NEIGHBORHOOD KNOCKING ON THE BACK DOOR W/ SOME SPECIAL MUSHROOMS OR A RLLY HARD 2 GET KIND OF SANDWICH MEAT.
Tell me a little about a day in the life of JLM.
JLM: I WAKE UP IN THE MORNING. I MAKE MY FUTON. I GO TO WORK. I CRUSH IT. REPEAT.
What are you doing when you’re not in the kitchen?
JLM: I PRETTY MUCH WORK NON STOP. IF IM NOT AT THE PASS, IM IN FRONT OF MY COMP DOING FOOD COSTING, PLANNING DISHES OR CATCHING UP ON MY YELP REVIEWS. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO COMPLAINS SO THAT THEY KNOW IM NOT JUST SOME ROBOT FOODTRON 3000 CRANKING OUT FOOD I HOPE TO DISAPPOINT PPL WITH. WHEN SOMETHIN GOES WRONG I WANT TO FIX IT. ALSO THO, SOME PEOPLE ARE JUST JERKS WHO SHOULD STAY HOME.
Who do you think is making the most interesting food today?
JLM: MY FAVORITE CHEFS ARE THE ONES WHO DON’T GIVE A FLUFF ABOUT WHATS HIP OR TRENDY AND WHO JUST COOK BECUZ THEY R CURIOUS AND PASSIONATE. THESE R THE GUYS WHO HAVE LIKE A DOZEN OR LESS THINGS ON THE MENU AND THAT’S IT. THEY ARENT TRYIN 2 BE EVERYTHING 2 EVERYONE, THEY R JUST TRYIN TO DO WHAT THEY LOVE, REALLY WELL.
What, in your perspective, should young cooks do to better themselves professionally?
JLM: STAY HUMBLE AND ENJOY THE PROCESS OF LEARNING. I HAD A BIT OF AN ATTITUDE WHEN I WAS YOUNGER, AND I DIDN’T ALWAYS SPEND TIME FOCUSSING ON WHERE I WAS. WHEN UR DRIVEN, UR ALWAYS TRYING TO BE NEXT LEVEL, BUT U GET A WHOLE LOT MORE OUT OF THE EXPERIENCE IF U DIG IN AND ENJOY WHATEVER LEVEL UR AT. U NEED A LOT OF CAJONES TO BE A GREAT CHEF, BUT DON’T LET UR CAJONES GET SO BIG U TRIP OVER THEM.
YO BROS, CAN WE ALL MAKE A PACT 2 STOP PUTTING CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKES ON THE MENU??? WHY DO THEY EVEN STILL EXIST?!!!! CAN WE NOT JUST MOVE ON?!!! ANYWAYS KEEPIN IT LIGHT AN FRUITY 2NITE W/ LUCKY CHARMS TREATS BAR, SNACK PACK JUICY GELS, WHIPPED VANILLA DUNCAN HINES FROSTIN, SKITTLES, LIME JELLO POWDER, APPLE, BEE POLLEN AND EDIBLE FLOWERS FROM MY LANDLORDS WINDOW BOX!!!! #nomorelavacakes #pastrychefsofig #cheflife #pastrycheflife #innovate #tweezers #foodporn #theartofplating #gastroart #truecooks #juicygels #luckycharms #dessertlife #sotight #soigné
Are there ingredients that you think are played out that you would like to see disappear from menus? Anything you wish you could see more of?
JLM: NO. IN THE HANDS OF A TALENTED CHEF, ANY INGREDIENT CAN BE GIVEN NEW LIFE OR REIMAGINED. I DID HAVE A NEGATIVE EXPERIENCE W/ VOLCANO CAKES THO, AND PREFER NOT TO BE AROUND THEM.
Tell me what soigné means to you.
JLM: YO SOIGNÉ IS LIKE THAT MOMENT WHEN YOU TAKE THE FOIL TOP OFF THE PHILLY CREAM CHEESE AND IT ALL COMES OFF IN ONE PULL AND NONE OF THOSE SCRAGGLY BITS GET LEFT BEHIND.
You started instagramming in February and already have over 58,000 followers (!) Why do you think people have responded so overwhelmingly favorably to your IG, and what does that response mean to you?
JLM: YO I THNK PPL WERE JUST READY FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT MAYBE. NOT ALL MY PLATES ARE TOTALLY 100, BUT AT LEAST IM GETTIN WEIRD AND PUTTIN MYSELF OUT THERE. I THINK THAT COUNTS FOR SOMETHIN.