The last few features I’ve written for this site have all started with some kind of intro about how food in all its emotional and intricate glory is all that’s keeping us going right now. But the fact of the matter is, the food content you’re all obsessed with at this particular point in time is not just about food in, like, a what-should-I-eat-to-bury-my-feelings way; it oftentimes skews in a what-are-my-favorite-chefs-eating-to-bury-their-feelings sort of direction. (I know this because I spend a lot of my time obsessing over what you obsess over, can you tell?) Sure, you want delicious alcoholic recipes, but, wow, did you love Ina getting Cosmo-drunk mid-morning on a weekday! Same thing with Martha getting a wee bit wasted and commenting on Instagram posts and tipsy Chrissy and her tequila donuts! You live for it!
And while I could chalk this up to some strange love affair with celebrities and booze, this actually makes a lot of sense: The celebrities of the food world, who we look to for inspiration and guidance, are currently losing their goddamn minds, just like the rest of us. Their jobs—to provide us with polished-yet-easily-doable comfort—have become as ruleless as the rest of ours. They, too, are just working with what they’ve got in their houses… though, OK, fine, their houses are a lot more fun than most of ours. They make going insane seem the absolute best in a way that quite literally no other vein of celebrity can right now. (Truly, Kim, I love you, but being hot and helming makeup and clothing empires just doesn’t feel accessible to me at this particular point in time.) Celebrity chefs and their wonky-ass breakdowns are what’s going to see us through this, you guys!
I point you again to queen Ina as the primary example of when we collectively realized this. The woman—known for flawless tablescapes and preferences for produce flown in from France—took to IGTV about three weeks into the U.S. lockdowns and made the biggest fucking Cosmopolitan the world has ever seen.
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“It’s always cocktail hour in a crisis!” she noted joyfully, while pouring the remainder of a bottle of Grey Goose into a pitcher the size of a toddler. It was…so brazen, so bold, and so absolutely batshit that the internet panicked. We took a beat to ask ourselves if Ina, the beautiful, beautiful human embodiment of Northampton was OK before realizing that not only was she OK, but that she was thriving.
She’d seen the response to her sad waffle Instagram just a few days prior and realized what was resonating with her followers was not the perfection she normally posts—it was the acknowledgment that she, too, was feeling scattered and messy, but that that was no reason not to party. Do you not feel the same way as you polish off your bottle of Chardonnay every Thursday evening? I certainly do, and the fact that the woman whose 11 cookbooks are responsible for most of my go-tos in normal times feels the same way only encourages me to love her more. Ina continues to post slightly dumpy pictures she never would have pre-quarantine—and she makes headlines every single time.
And, truly, how fun is it to see the people behind best-selling cookbooks feel proud of themselves for just getting something yummy and edible on the table? Chrissy just published what is essentially a recipe for seasoned-however-you-want popcorn and encouraged readers to “think of the popcorn as a blank canvas, and you’re the artist.” That’s what she’s doing! That makes me feel great! Of course I want Chrissy to excel always, but the fact that she and I are currently feeling the same satisfaction for just getting through all of this is not something I imagine we’ll ever feel in common again. One day (one can only pray), we will be free of this godforsaken virus and Chrissy will go back to publishing New York Times best-sellers and being a beloved and multi-talented celebrity. When that day comes, I will probably still just be making seasoned-however-you-want popcorn. Let me have this!
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Really, the fact that all of these food icons are open about feeling the same pressure to find new and creative ways to fill their time (…you are following Gordon Ramsay on TikTok by this point, yes?) is also just extremely easy to relate to, which, again, is not generally something you feel when it comes to celebrities. While the Biebers are being jacked and sexy whilst “quarantine sweating” at home, the Pioneer Woman is posting throwback photos of her babies from albums she’s rediscovering and also attempting to make TikToks. Do you feel more of an affinity to one of those activities than the other?
…OK, fine, maybe you’re not on TikTok yet, but you, like Martha Stewart, have 100 percent gotten drunk and spent some time you might regret on Instagram during the COVID-19 pandemic. If nothing else, coronavirus has united the entire human race in a way it has never been united before—we are all feeling sad and stuck and helpless at the same time, and the only safe and universal outlet to connect is social media. To see those feelings reflected in the behaviors of people you love is helpful…it’s also why nobody wrote about The Rock continuing to crush his workout routines right now, but why they were all over his 6,000-calorie, cheeseburger-filled cheat meals. Yes, I know, he’s not a chef, but you get it. The common thread is food. I fucking love Stanley Tucci, but was he going to go more viral than he’s ever gone amid the hoards of news pouring through during a pandemic if not for the very soothing way he made a Negroni? I think not. In this house, we stan relatable coronavirus kings and queens!
I, for one, am looking forward to the next slightly hysterical IG Live from any of my favorite chefs. I know Guy is being wonderfully charitable right now, but the idea of him crying on a livestream while grilling some ribs kind of turns me on? It’ll see me through the next bout of uncertainty, the next subpar bake, the next…whatever it may be. Just something to think about, @Guy. Everyone else: Keep it up.
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