Chef Jacques La Merde managed to build up a massive Instagram following over the past year or so, and somehow remained anonymous through it all. The chef's last name offers a pretty big French hint about what La Merde is up to (or what the fine-dining industry is full of, as its naysayers might point out). For one thing, La Merde's intricately plated dishes are made up mostly of junk food, and are designed mainly to get attention on Instagram. The chef's muse? The artistically plated creations of Noma chef Rene Redzepi, who pioneered the New Nordic cuisine and is often shortlisted among the most talented chefs in the world.
But in Top Chef Season 13 Episode 8, we discover that Jacques La Merde has more going on than meets the eye. La Merde makes a virtual appearance during the Quickfire Challenge, when Top Chef contestants are asked to "Create a Visually Stunning Dish" using only junk food. La Merde (appearing onscreen with a blanked-out face and altered voice) speaks to the contestants directly, and offers words of wisdom like "Tweezers aren't just for microgreens, bro," and "Farm to table is dead, bro. This is the new reality."
The chefs then go to work, using distinctly unartisanal ingredients like canned cheese, processed cookies, beef jerky, candy and bologna to come up with Insta-worthy dishes. La Merde's only rule? Their creations must be "soigné." But it isn't until later in the episode that the contestants get to meet the chef in real life. And it turns out Jacques La Merde is....a woman: Christine Flynn, executive chef of Toronto-based iQ Food Co.