Celebrity Chef Instagrams, Ranked from Best to Worst

Please, Nigel, keep showing me pictures of your plum tree as it changes colour with the passing of each season.

23 November 2020, 11:54am

Instagram is a strange and scary place for the TV chef. In days gone by, a celebrity chef could survive and thrive on the small screen, needing little more than a small amount of culinary talent and a marginally larger amount of camera presence. We live in a cruel, cruel world, though, such that the whole Loose Women-guest-by-day-and-top-shagger-by-night vibe that these chefs harbour is often no match for the ultra-high-tech, time-lapsed culinary culture that rules Instagram today. Some of our nationally treasured chefs have played their Instagram hand impeccably, providing some much-needed relief from the often nightmarish social media landscape. 


Other chefs, as we are about to find out, have crashed and burned in the face of modernity. 


I will hold my hands up and admit that I want, very desperately and viscerally, to shrink down into a small, pixelated version of myself and be submerged permanently into Nigel Slater’s Instagram profile. It is not just that his feed offers us all an escape from our own lives (please, Nigel, keep showing me pictures of your plum tree as it changes colour with the passing of each season. Please, let me live vicariously through your rooftop garden and impeccable taste in home furnishings, even if only for a fleeting moment) – it’s that he has captured the simple essence of what an Instagram post should be. Nice picture in picture bit, nice words in caption bit. No self-loathing, no giveaways: job well done.


Ainsley Harriott’s Instagram is the Lawful Good of Dads On Social Media. It is, admittedly, tricky to be a Dad On Social Media in 2020. Get it wrong, and you may end up trudging through the dismal realm of Ted Cruz or Paul Hollywood (see below). Get it right, though, as Ainsley appears to have so effortlessly done, and you have an unfiltered glimpse into what it means to feel human joy. A true Dad looks at Instagram and sees not a marketing tool or a chance to analyse audience engagement, but simply a medium through which he can share images of the things that he loves – and Ainsley’s love for food shines through in his photographs, which are real, delicious-looking and full of life.


Nadiya’s Instagram holds the rare quality of making me want to give up on life as it stands, and instead adopt myself directly into her family. The fact that the aesthetic cohesiveness of Nadiya’s account leaves something to be desired is part of what makes it so excellent. Part book club, part family diary, part genuinely beautiful photographs of whatever food item catches her eye that day, the account is a wholesome and true slice of Nadiya’s life –interspersed with the occasional very normal Swarovski-sponsored post (naturally).


Nigella has, follower-wise, done very well for herself on Instagram. Unfortunately, I have to tell you that being followed by every single middle-class mum in the United Kingdom is not enough to constitute having a good Instagram account. Hiring a professional photographer to capture each dish you make in perfect saturation is also, sadly, not enough to constitute having a good Instagram account. Though her feed is technically perfect, it lacks the crucial ability to make you want to actually eat the food. Instagram is not the place for Nigella’s cooking. She belongs in the early 2000s, eating butter straight from the fridge in a grainy episode of Nigella Bites, or inside the batter-splattered copy of How to Eat that your Dad got your Mum in a last moment of spontaneous kindness before the inevitable divorce.


The debate re: whether Jamie Oliver is spiritually Good or Bad, though scintillating, has no place here. This particular analysis, as we have seen, is purely Instagram-based, and Jamie’s feed is either sorely disappointing or predictably shit, depending on your original opinion of him. The photographs have the same aura as a BBC Good Food recipe or a tin of Heinz beans – i.e. technically, probably Fine, but lacking that joie de vivre, that zest, that indescribable thing that turns food preparation and consumption from a clinical but necessary human activity into a source of unbridled happiness.


Have we, on our journey through this list, seen some poor Instagrams? Yes. Have we seen Instagram profiles that we, personally, perhaps might not follow? Sure. I want to stress to you now, though, that the cursed entity that is Paul Hollywood’s Instagram is in a different league to everything we have seen; different to everything we thought we knew about cooking and life itself. Do I want to see an unbelievably low quality, sepia-filtered photograph of steely eyed, relentlessly-cheats-on-literally-all-of-his-girlfriends Paul, captioned with a bizarrely long spiel about how Instagram is flooded with Paul Hollywood impersonators? I do not. Does anyone, really and truly, want to see an iPhone photo of a Wetherspoons bar, complete with Sainsbury’s four-pack cupcake and a half-drunk Birra Moretti? No. No-one wants or enjoys this. 0/10.



Instagram, Nigella Lawson

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