Keeping anything a secret today isn't easy, but staying anonymous on Instagram when you have attracted more than 100,000 followers in just one year feels impossible.
But Chef Jacques La Merde managed to do just that. On Instagram, the chef posted photos of exquisitely plated junk food, just like dishes in a Michelin-starred restaurant, which you can see here.
La Merde, an obvious pseudonym, types in all-capitals and addresses followers as "bro." Curious followers (and media) assumed it was a man.
Now the chef's true identity has been revealed and "he" is actually a "she" from Toronto.
Christine Flynn, the executive chef at I.Q. Food Co., thought of the photos as an art project, with a dose of humour.
"I look at this as one of the coolest things I have ever done," she said.
Flynn created Jacques by distilling parts of herself and appropriating parts of "bro culture" jokes. The fact she could make thousands of people laugh was heart-warming, she said.
But she also wanted to make clear that she wasn't making fun of food culture. She calls her photos "benevolent satire," something that brought some levity to a profession that has some serious issues, like poor working conditions and undocumented workers in kitchens.
While she was posting the photos, she said she got direct messages from men saying things like "that's tight, bro!" and from women who said they loved Jacques and wanted to marry him.
"It was like having an ace up my sleeve," she said about the year of anonymity.
There was also some personal development that came with running the popular account. In the Instagram captions, Chef La Merde always had an enthusiastic, can-do take on cooking. The captions were also free of swear-words — "mom friendly" language, Flynn said.
So the chef has adopted a bit her alter ego's positivity. Her mantra now is, "What would Jacques do?"
"You don't have to be negative," she said. "You can change your attitude."
Flynn has also stopped swearing.