Starting in February of 2015, a satirical account on Instagram quickly became a media darling, as Chef Jacques Le Merde (translates as “Jack Shit”) began to poke fun at foodie culture, gathering more than 90,000 followers in less than a year.
Popping the bubble of pretension surrounding haute cuisine, Le Merde parodies trendy plating techniques, where precious bits of nature are arranged with tweezers on plates surrounded with vast expanses of negative space.
Popularized by Noma chef Rene Redzepi, who is best known for his “New Nordic” cuisine, (including a legendary 20 course tasting menu that features bizarre ingredients, such as fried reindeer moss, live shrimps, red ants, carrot foam and sea buckthorn), these tiny portions and outlandish plating devices set the tone for a new generation of chefs and catapulted Noma to the top of “best restaurant” lists worldwide.
“SOMETIMES I CREATE THINGS THAT ARE SO EPIC, IM JUST STRATE UP FLABBERGASTED THAT NO ONE HAS THOUGHT OF IT BEFORE…. CROSS SECTION OF SPICY BEEF JAMAICAN PATTY, PLANTAIN CHIPS, @STHUBERT POUTINE GRAVY FLUID GEL, CHILLY OIL, UTZ MILD CHEDDAR CHEEZE DIP, FROZEN PEAS, LEAFS!!!! WAGWAN EH?!!!!!” (Excerpted from @chefjacqueslamerde on Instagram)
Using junk food staples such as corn dogs, Hot Pockets, Pop Tarts, Bugles and other convenience store fare, La Merde creates artful plates that lampoon the New Nordic style, accompanied by hilarious captions always delivered in ALL CAPS, as if to underscore the enthusiasm his character has for the “soigné," which means “elegant, or carefully done.”
The plates are gorgeous, but it’s the captions that make me ROTFL with tears streaming down my cheeks. Le Merde’s prose is studded with typos and text-speak, littered with multiple exclamation points and emojis, punctuated by triumphant “BROS!!!!” and “YASSSes” that make the character so charming and lovable.
The result is the most elevated “stoner food” I’ve ever laid eyes on—almost as if Redzepi himself got baked in Colorado and wandered over to the nearest gas station to forage ingredients for a midnight munchie snack. Imagine smoking a huge jay rolled in kief, and then being served a plate of “Rapa Scrapple Tartar, Kroger Mini Pancakes, Pender's Pork Cracklings, Purple Bitter Lettuce Thing, Pear, Sage, and Some of That Apple Sauce in a Pouch u give 2 Kids.”
Pretty gourmet fare, no?
“LETS BE REAL BROS, OUR BRUNCH GAME HAS BEEN SLIDIN LATELY. OUR NY RESOLUTION WAS TO TAKE IT *BACK TO BASICS* AND FOCUS ON WUT WE DO BEST!!!! U KNO IT BROS, BASICALLY WE’RE GOING TO BE REPLICATING THE ENTIRE MCDONALDS MENU AND PUTTIN AN EGG ON IT!!! YASSSSS!!!! THIS IS A GIANT HASH BROWN ROMANCED W/ PORK BELLY BRAISED IN NUGGET SAUCE, AMERICAN CHEESE, COCKTAIL ONIONS, CELERY LEAFS, SPECIAL SAUCE HOLLANDAISE, @eatnomiku YOLK AND COFFEE SALT!!!!” (Excerpted from @chefjacqueslamerde on Instagram)
The anonymous chef Jacques will be unmasked at an upcoming dinner in Boston, “The Most Soigné Dinner Ever,” which will benefit Lovin’ Spoonfuls, a charity which recovers and distributes perishable and unserved food from restaurants, which would otherwise be wasted, to soup kitchens. Le Merde will follow up his public debut with a Valentine’s dinner at Mile End Deli in NYC.
The ever busy BRO, Jacques was able to take some time away from his dinner preparations to chat with HIGH TIMES in his inimitable style about his opinions on using Mountain Dew as a marinade, adding cannabis to cuisine, where to forage for the best ingredients and how to add more soigné to your own cooking.
“GOT A GRATE PHOTO OF OUR SIGN. BRUNCH SPEC!!! HOPE TO SEE U ALL!!! WE’VE GOT SLATE PLATES, BACON-KIMCHI CAESARS IN MASON JARS, AND YASSSS YASSSS NORA JONES GREATEST HITS ON LOOP!!!! (Excerpted from @chefjacqueslamerde on Instagram, photo by Galdones Photography)
When you're foraging for ingredients at the local corner bodega, what do you look for?
I AM MOST ATTRACTED TO FOODS THAT COME WITH EXCESSIVE PACKAGING!!!! CHANCES ARE, IF SOMEONE IS WRAPPING A PRODUCT UP THAT TIGHT, WHAT'S INSIDE HAS GOT TO BE GOOD!!!! ALSO, ANYTHING W/ MODIFIED MILK INGREDIENTS IS USUALLY A WINNER BECAUSE IT SHOWS THE MANUFACTURERS CARE ENOUGH TO GO ABOVE AND BEYOND JUST REGULAR "MILK."
A new form of "stoner cuisine" has been emerging in states that have legalized cannabis, and many chefs have pledged to "elevate" munchies to go beyond brownies and Doritos. Do you feel that making fancy plates from junk food ingredients is effectively "elevating stoner food"?
I FEEL LIKE I AM ELEVATING ALL FOODS, AND EVERYONE IS WELCOME AT MY TABLE!!!! EXCEPT YELPERS. THEY SHOULD STAY HOME BECAUSE THEY ARE JUST RUINING IT FOR EVERYONE.
“1567 COVERS LAST NIGHT AND OUR POS WENT DOWN AT 5:45. BROS! I WAS SWEATIN BALLS!!! 3 HRS OF SLEEP AND BACK AT IT !!! #YOLO!!!! 2NITES SPEC = HAWAIIAN BAGEL BITES, CHEETOS, BABY CARROT + RANCH PUREE, SMALL VEGETABLES AND CHIPOTLE OIL” (Excerpted from @chefjacqueslamerde on Instagram)
You've stated that you used cannabis when you were younger. Did this use lead you to create any interesting munchies?
I DIDN'T RLLY NEED TO CREATE ANYTHING WHEN FOR A VERY REASONABLE PRICE I COULD GO TO SUBWAY AND HAVE AN ARTIST CREATE SOMETHIN FOR ME!!!! IF UR RLLY NICE THEY'LL ACTUALLY PUT THE SUNCHIPS IN BETWEEN THE LAYERS OF MEAT IN THE COLD CUT TRIO!!! TRY IT W/ CAESAR DRESSING!!!!
Why should young chefs follow your example of using junk food ingredients to create beautiful plates?
EVERYONE SHOULD BE ABLE TO HAVE BEAUTIFUL FOOD!!!! THIS IS AMERICA!!!
Do you ever worry that the people eating your dishes will develop diabetes?
ACTUALLY IM A BIG ADVOCATE OF PORTION CONTROL ICYMI!!!!!!
FEAST OF THE SEVEN FISHES 2NITE BROS!!! NOT SURE IF THIS COUNTS B/C I THINK MAYBE OCTOPUS IS LIKE A CEPHALOPOD OR SUMTHIN BUT I WONT TELL IF YOU DONT!!!!!! I CANT BELIEVE ITS NOT (BROWN) BUTTER-SOUS VIDE OCTO, CRINKLE CUT TOP DOGS, TINY ONIONS, MIRACLE WHIP DOTS, GINGERBREAD SOIL, HICKORY STYX, PLANTS AND A LARGE SPOONFUL OF POTATOES I MADE BY TENDERLY MIXIN 2GETHER POTATO BUDS, HALF AND HALF AND SOME CAMPBELLS CREAMY BUTTERNUT SOUP!!!!!” (Excerpted from @chefjacqueslamerde on Instagram)
Would you ever use cannabis as an ingredient in one of your dishes? Would you lend your brand to an edibles line?
FULL DISCLOSURE, IVE GOT A LOT HAPPENING RITE NOW, BUT I HAVE STARTED RAPPIN OFFLINE W/ A FRIEND ABOUT HOW TO HARNESS THE POWER OF MARIJUANA AND COMBINE IT WITH MY SOIGNÉ SKILLS!!!! LIKE WHAT IF THE FOOD YOU WANTED TO EAT WHEN YOU GOT HIGH, WAS ALSO THE FOOD THAT GOT YOU HIGH? ITS A BEAUTIFUL CIRCLE!!!!!!!!
How can Mountain Dew be best used as an ingredient for sauces or marinades?
REGULAR MOUNTAIN DEW CAN BE A BIT INTENSE FOR COOKING—ITS BEST IN FRESH PREPARATIONS LIKE A CEVICHE MARINADE OR A SALAD DRESSING. MOUNTAIN DEW BLACK LABEL—WHICH IS DARKER AND HAS MORE COMPLEX RED FRUIT NOTES—IS GREAT FOR BRAISES OR EVEN SOMETHIN LIKE A GASTRIQUE TO PARTNER W/ RICH MEATS LIKE VENISON OR OTHER TYPES OF GAME.
What do you think about chefs like Top Chef Hosea Rosenberg who are integrating cannabis into their "farm to table" cuisine?
I THINK ITS GRATE!!!! I WOULD LOVE TO DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT!!! MAYBE YOU CAN MAKES SOME CALLS FOR ME?!!!!
How can cooks at home get their plates to look more soigné?
ARRANGE EVERYTHING IN A TRIANGLE AND THEN ADD SOME FANCY LEAFS!!! DON'T PUT TOO MUCH FOOD, BUT DO PUT A LOT OF HEART!!!!!
“YO BROS, WHEN I PLATE I HAVE 2 HAVE TOTAL SILENCE, ORGANIZATION AND THE OCCASIONAL FERNET OR I KNO I WILL LOSE MY FOCUS AND MY SOIGNE WILL NOT BE AS TIGHT!!! … HAD A GRATE TIME PLATIN MY SIGNATURE DISH *BUGS ON A STICK*!!!” (Excerpted from @chefjacqueslamerde on Instagram, photo by Galdones Photography)