Long gone are the days when we followed what a chef did only by going to an actual restaurant. Thanks to social media, we can trail chefs and bakers and farmers around town via their Facebook posts and Twitter and Instagram feeds. This can be particularly appealing with Instagram, as food has always lent itself to photography. (How many dishes do you cook from recipes that don't have pictures?) Here are 10 of our favorite Los Angeles food professionals — who Instagram under either their own names or their restaurants — to follow.
Wes Avila (Guerrilla Tacos)—Avila's taco truck is one of the best in Los Angeles, so that's reason enough to check out what the chef is doing via his Instagram feed. But it's also one of the best ways to figure out what he's making for lunch, as Avila communicates mostly through social media. If you're not connected, you may miss out on the ingredients that can sell out very quickly: the uni or razor clams or pork belly, or Avila's great vegetarian tacos — so good that you won't know they're vegan.
Rose Lawrence (Red Bread)—Lawrence and her husband started Red Bread a few years ago, selling first from farmers markets, then from a bicycle, then from a shop in Venice. Since the shop closed (Lawrence is relocating), it's easier to keep up to speed on what the folks at Red Bread are baking via Instagram. There are breads and pies and pastries, but also fun things like hoshigaki (Japanese dried persimmons), hanging from strings like marionettes, caramel apples and stacks of farmers market pumpkins.
Roxana Jullapat (Cooks County)—Jullapat's photos, of what she finds at farmers market, what she bakes in the pastry kitchen of Cooks County, and not a few other things, are as much fun as she is. Wild persimmons, cakes and cookies, a wall of KitchenAid mixers, a scribbled want ad: all reasons to follow her, and probably eat at Cooks County even more than you already do.
Joan McNamara (Joan's on Third)—McNamara posts a lot on Instagram, which probably makes some sense, given how aesthetically oriented her two shops are. There's an awful lot to take pictures of: the pastries, the mac and cheese, the cows, the pretty lights and all the candies. This is especially true during the holiday season, as Joan's becomes a shopping and catering madhouse.
Jeremy Fox (Rustic Canyon)—Fox has been building extraordinarily pretty plates of food at Rustic Canyon for some time now and Instagramming and Facebooking pictures of them with happy regularity. (He's very fond of shots of full plates on wooden tables, and with good reason.) If you don't get to his Santa Monica restaurant often enough, you can at least see what you're missing.
Zack Hall (Clark Street Bread)—Following Hall on Instagram is fun not only because of the great shots of bread that he posts, but also fitting, as it was Instagram that first brought Hall to the attention of Ludo Lefebvre, who started serving Hall's bread at Trois Mec. Hall mostly bakes out of his tiny West Hollywood walk-up apartment, but has lately started bringing his bread to Grand Central Market, where he'll also soon be baking as well.
Roy Choi (Kogi, Pot, Chego, etc.)—It shouldn't surprise you that Roy Choi is more fun to follow on Instagram than most people. Twitter too, for that matter. Choi likes to post photos of a lot more than food: selfies, signage, street scenes, notes, trees, the Dalai Lama. Many of his photos are in black and white, and yes, a few are of Tony Bourdain.
Jessica Koslow (Sqirl)—If you love pies and rice bowls, and very good pictures of them, then Jessica Koslow's Instagram feed is a must. But there are also shots of cute dogs (Sqirl is a great place to sit outside with your well-behaved mutt and people-watch), Koslow's great pastries, perfectly pulled espresso drinks, market-driven salads, even the chalkboards.
Nguyen Tran (Starry Kitchen)—If you're familiar with Tran, who runs the traveling food show Starry Kitchen, then you're probably already following him on social media. Tran spends a lot of time on social media, almost as much time as he does in his banana suit. There are some pretty fun photos, as you might expect: of Tran and his wife Thi (Starry Kitchen's talented chef), of food and people and selfies and yes, bananas.
Evan Funke (Bucato)—There's a certain irony about how good chef Evan Funke's Instagram feed is (hand-made pasta, lots of pigs, tattoos and fire and R&D trips to Italy), given the fact that he discourages people from taking pictures at Bucato, his Culver City restaurant. Funke comes by his photographic skills naturally (his father is an Oscar-winning cinematographer), and uses Instagram as a kind of art collage. You could say the same thing about his plates — and his menu.