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Everyone is cooking on Instagram. These are the best chefs and celebrities to watch

Chef Chris Oh tastes a recent dish, cheesy Japanese curry chicken pot pie, at his home in Los Angeles. During the stay-at-home order, Oh has used the time to create and post numerous videos of his cooking.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)
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Many of us are trapped in the Instagram vortex. In the absence of sleep or anything to do, you scroll and scroll (and scroll) until you pause at a video of someone throwing something into a pan. The ASMR of the sizzling is enough to inspire your own attempt at cooking or, at the very least, offer a welcome distraction.

It seems everyone — that college friend you never see in person but still follow, your favorite chef, your celebrity crush — is cooking on Instagram. The hashtag #quarantinecooking has nearly 200,000 tags.

Some videos offer real cooking tips. Others provide self-validation: My kitchen is somehow cleaner than yours? Winning.

Here’s a list of chefs and celebrities to follow on Instagram, for the next time you’re trapped in the vortex and never want to (or simply can’t) get out:

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Jet Tila @jettila

The cookbook author and chef said he’s gained about 20,000 followers since he started posting regular cooking content during the quarantine. He gives easy-to-follow directions and recipes for naan, fried rice, Thai BBQ chicken and more, using microphones and LED light panels — and sometimes even a GoPro and a DSLR — for professional-looking videos. His most popular video (56,000 views and 250 comments) features a recipe for pad Thai.

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“It’s a service that I can provide people,” Tila said. “I’m not different from any other dad with two young kids trying to stay sane.”

The videos have also been a good way for him to build his brand. In addition to an influx of followers, he said he sold about 500 of his cookbooks from his home after it sold out on Amazon.

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Mei Lin @meilin21

Forget sourdough bread. The Nightshade chef has started a chung yu bang (scallion pancake) trend on Instagram. She’s also making how-to videos for Japanese cheesecake (with that good jiggle) and posting them in her Stories, along with sticky banoffee pudding, and pork and chive dumplings. But Lin should win any and all awards available for her cheddar-and-chive biscuits brushed with duck fat: She includes close-up shots of the many layers and uses the biscuits to make a fried Spam sandwich. Extra points for her excellent use of appropriate GIFs. (Mind-blown emoji here.)

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José Andres @chefjoseandres

Andres bounces around his kitchen, typically flanked by his daughters. He challenges himself to make fried rice, pasta pomodoro and chicken with cauliflower in the time it takes to finish a song from “Hamilton.” He labels them #RecipesForThePeople and the entire family sings along. This is the feel-good content we need right now.

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from the classic joy of cooking (actually the first recipe I made for my wife), Corn Fritters, BUT since corn is not yet in season, we are using canned peas.. so it’s canned green peas fritters! My daughter Lucia wanted to dedicate this recipe to all of the grocery store workers because they are risking their lives every day to be keeping stores open so that families like ours can put food on our tables. And we are singing Hurricane also from #Hamilton because I have a crush on Lin-Manuel... but don't tell him!! . Canned green peas fritters in 2 minutes and a half (almost!). . This one has a few moving parts, so try to keep up .. we are doing the fritters, a sauce from the water of the cans, and a basil pesto so Let’s go! For the fritters, Heat up some olive oil in a pan, then add 2-3 cups of canned green peas or corn to 2 egg yolks, a little flour (1-2 tablespoons) and a little salt and mix the whole thing. While you’re mixing the peas, get your daughters (or sons or husbands or wives) to be whisking the egg whites. Once is fluffy add the egg whites to the green peas and add it to the hot oil. Fry them for a couple of minutes on each side. While it’s cooking make a quick emulsion of the can of the green peas with olive oil, cook it down to get a little thick … it’s soo good. And by this time the song ends …..nooooo! But we can still work on it…. Maybe you get another daughter to make the pesto, like Lucia is mashing basil, pinenuts, and olive oil, ours has an amazing terrible color…. To finish You take the fritters from the pan and add the pesto sauce in the middle with some fresh herbs and the sauce and BOOM!!!

A post shared by Jose Andres (@chefjoseandres) on

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Chris Oh @chefchrisoh

The chef, who has restaurants in San Francisco as well as a Korean sauce brand and new cook-at-home Korean BBQ kit, started posting at least one video a day during quarantine in his Stories. He shares his dumplings, omurice and dalgona coffee. And he borrows TikTok techniques like snapping to transition from a bunch of ingredients to a finished dish. Oh said he recently ordered a $30 lamp clip to use as a tripod for his iPhone and makes trips to the grocery store specifically for his videos.

“I went out and bought baking soda for that banana bread,” Oh said. “I risked getting coronavirus to make this video.”

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Chris Oh films the making of his cheesy Japanese curry chicken pot pie at his home in Los Angeles.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

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Nyesha Arrington @nyeshajoyce

You could classify Arrington’s Instagram cooking as comfort food but with a healthy twist. She delivers satisfying views of bubbling pots of cumin-scented tomato sauce and sizzling skillets full of spinach. She’s mixing up green garlic chile oil for her spinach and egg whites, chickpea pasta dough and gluten-free pancakes. You can find the recipes in her posts or archived stories.

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Zoë Komarin @zoefoodparty

Known best for her stuffed pita pop-up parties, Komarin is showing followers how to make her hummus and chickpea pancakes in her archived Stories. Komarin also started a fun series of videos called “What’s in Yer Fridge!?” in which she cooks something envy-worthy using whatever is in an unsuspecting friend’s fridge (filmed pre-quarantine). At Dan Levy’s house, she made a deluxe egg McMuffin fit for a star of “Schitts Creek.” There’s also a demo for kimchi pancakes because why not?

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Daniele Uditi @danieleuditi

Although the Pizzana chef doesn’t normally post start-to-finish cooking videos, his Story typically features things like close-up mixing videos of cheesy pasta patate e provola with a soundtrack of Concertino Napoletano’s “‘O marenariello” (think: lots of mandolin). There are also plenty of cross sections of every carb imaginable, including ciabatta, pizza dough and baguettes. And Uditi is starting up a “Cucina Con Daniele” cooking series via Instagram Live. In the most recent video: how to make cacio e pepe with Pizzana co-owner and Sprinkles Cupcakes maven Candace Nelson.

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Eric Ripert @ericripert

The Le Bernardin chef’s videos of Gran ma French toast, shrimp pasta, roasted leg of lamb and grated salad aren’t shot in any special way, but they’re mesmerizing. Sometimes there’s music in the background. Sometimes it’s silent. He’s your not-quite-tech-savvy dad filming himself cooking, complete with off-center angles and incomplete steps. But you love him and everything he does and will continue to watch anyway.

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Christina Tosi @christinatosi

Watching Tosi make pumpkin dog biscuits for her dog, Butter (yes, that’s actually her name), then feed them to her after Butter does tricks will make you feel better about whatever situation you’re in right now. The Milk Bar chef bakes for humans too in a series she’s calling #bakingclub. She goes live once a day with a new recipe and playlist. There’s veggie cake, homemade sprinkles, pizza and compost pancakes. Most of the videos are saved under the “baking club” archive.

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recipe is at christinatosi.com/recipes

A post shared by christinatosi (@christinatosi) on

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Ludo Lefebvre @chefludo

Lefebvre’s feed is full of recipes that will help us be our best wannabe French selves during quarantine: gougères, the poofiest cheese soufflé, apple layer cake and the perfect French omelet, cooked by the Petit Trois chef wearing a shirt with a picture of said omelet. He’s also a dad in a tie-dye sweatsuit making easy one-pot dishes like healthy vegetables and rice for the family.

CELEBS

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Emmy Rossum @emmy

The actress has a quarantine cooking Story archive in which she posts chopped salad, bison chili, salmon with pesto and cherry tomatoes, keto almond flour muffins, and ratatouille. You might get a recipe for Sunday morning oatmeal one day, followed by a picture of her dog the next.

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Florence Pugh @florencepugh

In addition to helpful cooking tips (like how to cut, clean and roast butternut squash), Pugh offers frequently hilarious commentary while she cooks, with information on where she gets her ingredients and why she’s cooking what she’s cooking. She also does mental check-ins with her 1.4 million followers.

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James McAvoy @jamesmcavoyrealdeal

Between posts asking for support for NHS workers, McAvoy cooks. He hasn’t gotten into videos just yet, but he posts pictures of “bored of breakfast during quarantine” cheesy scones, glazed doughnuts and fork biscuits. All the photos come with pictures of the recipes. But the actor isn’t just a baker. He wants you to try his auntie Trisha’s recipe for chicken karahi too.

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Natalie Portman @natalieportman

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Jenn Harris is a senior writer for the Food section and host of “The Bucket List” fried chicken show. She has a BA in literary journalism from UC Irvine and an MA in journalism from USC. Follow her @Jenn_Harris_.