"I think of it as a support system, really," he explains, taking a sip of his milkshake. "Somebody takes a photo of something, and it's more of a 'Fuck yeah, that looks great,' kind of thing. In the day and age when everybody's a blogger and everybody's a critic, it's nice to have something that's just fluff with your peers."
I ask him if Instagram, with its bright colors and edgy angles, makes food more of an artistic pursuit.
"Food is not an art," he says firmly. "Food can look artistic, but what we do is a trade."
He thinks for moment, and then adds, "I think Instagram shows the art of photography more than the art of food. Or, it's a blending of the two. At the end of the day, you can take a picture of some beautiful food, but if it doesn't taste good, who gives a shit?"
@MATTHEWJENNINGS: MATT JENNINGS
Executive chef/co-owner of Farmstead & La Laiterie Bistro in Providence, RI
TIME ON INSTAGRAM: 1 year, 3 months
Chef Matt Jennings is something of an Instagram Jedi. His feed, boasting over 700 posts, is a compilation of gallery-quality photos ranging from personal snapshots of his son to a technical step-by-step breakdown of a lamb. His love of super-saturated filters plays up to the cuts of raw meat and blazing chartreuse greens.
"It's a much more intimate view of food," he says over the phone from Rhode Island. "This is kind of like seeing the chef's clipboard over their shoulder.
"And, I think we're just so busy and trapped in the kitchen every day, you don't have the opportunity to see what your peers are up to," he continues. "For me, it's just an opportunity to get inspired. Plus, Instagram kind of sexies it up, don't you think?"
That I do, but here's my question: aren't we sometimes overdoing it, with all the obsessive meal documenting? Is it a strange habit that needs to be broken, in order for us to pay full attention to our plates? I just took an ironic photo of my lunch while I was typing this!
"Food is sustenance, first and foremost," he says. "But, you know, if there's people out there that get turned on by food photos, then hey, go for it. Food porn is better than other types of porn! I'd rather look at that any day." ^
Cassandra Landry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow her on Twitter @eatdrinkwrite.