Chef Jacques la Merde Is Emulsifying Doritos for Boston
Chef Jacques la Merde—yes, the name means what you think it means— has carved out his own unique place in the crowded landscape of food photographers on Instagram. The anonymous chef shows off “small portions, tweezered everything,” composed with ingredients like “a garden of Cheetos,” “Kraft Handi-Snak with accoutrements,” and Captain Highliner’s fishstick.
The real kicker? It’s gorgeous. Soigné, in fact, to use the chef’s preferred descriptor.
Since the account debuted about a year ago, @ChefJacqueslaMerde has earned the respect of chefs, the media, and food lovers alike with his attention to detail, as well as his persona. The chef describes the components of each dish exclusively in caps lock, and offers glimpses into life as a restauranteur in an anonymous city: What his sous chef, José, is bringing into the kitchen; the foibles of dealing with interns; the outcomes of his doctor’s office visits. It’s an on-point parody of excitable, enthusiastic chefs who have, in social media, an outlet to share the details of their day-to-day, and Chef Jacques la Merde is damn good at his job.
@ChefJacqueslaMerde caught the attention of Bravo’s Top Chef producers, and he signed on to support a Season 13 challenge inspired by his preferred ingredients. The chefs will have to create the most visually appealing plates, using only snack food, during “Where’s the Beef?,” airing next Thursday, January 28.
Before the show, which will reveal his identity to the world, Jacques la Merde is throwing down with some of his bros during The Most Soigné Dinner Party Ever, aka Jacques la Merde’s Coming Out Party. The multi-course meal features takes on la Merde’s signature style by Michael Scelfo of Alden and Harlow, Craig Williams of Coppersmith, Jonny O’Callaghan of Toronto’s Maple Leaf Tavern, and dessert by Harvest’s Pastry Chef Brian Mercury. Tickets are almost sold out, but a few are still available. Twenty percent of sales go toward Lovin’ Spoonfuls food rescue organization.
La Merde is taking over Coppersmith’s food trucks on Saturday, January 30, too. The Southie spot will be teasing menu items on social media this week.
In advance of the big reveal, we reached Chef Jacques la Merde via email (sic. throughout) to learn a little more about him, his motivation, and what booze pairs best with Mtn Dew Black Label.
What are some things you’re working on for the dinner in Boston next week?
WELL ACTUALLY IM TRYING TO MAKE AN EMULSION OUT OF DORITOS SO I’VE BEEN FIGURIN OUT THE BEST WAY TO INFUSE THAT FLAVOR INTO EITHER A NEUTRAL OIL OR MAYBE SOME KIND OF NUT MILK.
What are you most excited about by your public unveiling, and what are you nervous about?
I AM SO EXCITED TO COOK W/ MY FRIENDS AND MAKE GOOD FOOD. IM NERVOUS THE PRESS WILL TAKE UNFLATTERING PHOTOS AND TAG ME IN THEM.
I think most foodies would expect chefs whose plates look like yours to pick up ingredients at the local farm stand, butcher, or fish pier. But yours come from Big Y, Kroeger’s, and gas station convenience stores. Why do you choose to highlight these ingredients?
WELL ITS NICE IF U HAVE THE TIME AND THE MONEY TO GO TO THOSE PLACES, BUT NOT EVERYONE DOES, DO THEY? I JUST TRY TO MAKE FOOD THAT’S APPEALING TO EVERYONE!!!!
When you’re creating a dish, is your top priority flavor, color, or texture? Or something else entirely?
ID LOVE TO SAY FLAVOR FIRST BUT I NEED TEXTURE. I CRAVE IT. ITS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING!!!!
What’s the best way to spike Mtn Dew Black Label?
FERNET. 100 P. FERNET.
Besides your tweezers, what’s your most-used piece of equipment?
I HAVE A GENERIC BLENDER THAT HAS BEEN INDISPOSABLE.
If you weren’t cooking, what would you be doing for a living?
I WANTED TO BE A NEWS ANCHOR. MY DAD TOLD ME I WAS TOO FAT. NOW I COOK FISH. IM NOT BITTER.
Who are you rooting for on Top Chef this season?
I DEFINTELY HAVE A HEART ON FOR KAREN.
The Most Soigné Dinner Ever, aka Jacques la Merde’s Coming Out Party, $127.59, Thursday, January 28, 7-11 p.m., Puritan & Company, 1166 Cambridge St., Inman Square, Cambridge; Eventbrite.
Chef Jacques la Merde’s Food Truck Takeover, Saturday, January 30, 6-11 p.m.; Coppersmith, 40 W. 3rd St., South Boston; 617-658-3452 or coppersmithboston.com.
UPDATE, January 25, 11:30 a.m.: Information about newly-announced Chef Jacques la Merde event at Coppersmith was added to this post.