Local Eats | A Feast for the Eyes

Six delicious Instagram feeds

By Melissa Duge Spiers


From sharing a new favorite beer to documenting our first perfectly hand-rolled, homemade croissant, we have all occasionally given in to the nearly universal urge to snap photos of our food and post them to Instagram. Most of our efforts are decidedly off-hand and amateur, however, with no grand scheme for color, theme, or presentation. But then there are these six Santa Cruz Instagrammers, whose feeds are quite the opposite: utterly drool-worthy, sexy feasts of photos that elevate the art of food portraiture to a whole new level of “food porn.”



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Self-described “mama, amateur baker, cocktail shaker, [and] fashion enthusiast” Cassie Winslow has curated a chic, pink-saturated feed that gorgeously showcases food, scenes, and riots of beautiful flowers in photos worthy of glossy lifestyle-magazine spreads. Not simply satisfied with providing pretty images, however, Winslow’s Deco Tartlette also provides clear info on where to buy the things featured in her posts and backs up the enticing food pics with full details and recipes on her eponymous website, decotartelette.com.


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31 Flavors this is not: more like 3,001 (and counting) unique and addictively delicious ice cream masterpieces. Mission Hill Creamery, a 7-year-old shop on Pacific Avenue, has developed an ardent following (including the Monterey Bay Aquarium) that eagerly awaits each release of their constantly changing, unusually flavored selections created from fresh, local, organic ingredients. In their weekly Instagram “flavor patrol” posts they offer tantalizing sneak peeks of the surprising elements appearing in upcoming blends. Recent examples include basil, serrano chilis, candycap mushrooms, figs, goat cheese, grapefruit, and wakame.


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Judy Doherty is a professional publisher and food photographer who produces sophisticated, stunning visual presentation materials for health educators that are sold on her website, nutritioneducationstore.com. In her personal @foodandhealth Instagram feed, however, she has nothing to sell or teach, no long descriptions, and sometimes no words at all. She offers up only a celebration of the beauty of food in the most exquisite photos of meals, dishes, produce and drinks, from dimly lit Rembrandt-esque still-life tableaux to displays of sexy dancing peppers and glowing translucent orange slices. Followers are also alerted to Doherty’s upcoming gallery shows, where her mouthwatering photographs are viewable magnificently larger than life.


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Food historian and special-event producer extraordinaire Liz Birnbaum orchestrates intricate dinners around themes like Botanical Imperialism, in which everything from the table setting to the dessert applies to the history, mythology and culture of her chosen topic. Likewise, her Instagram feed is an always-enlightening stream of deliciously packaged food education, with posts about subjects like the etymology of the word fervent (as it relates to food passion), the origin of doughnuts, and the geographical history of Santa Cruz food production. Each informational nugget is, naturally, paired with an elegant, scroll-stopping photo and a fuller, more detailed version available on her website, thecuratedfeast.org.


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Chef Daniela Gerson is in the enviable position of plying her trade as caterer, personal chef, and cooking instructor not only in Santa Cruz, but in Hawaii and the San Francisco Bay Area, as well. Equally enviable is her talent for brilliantly plating and photographing her organic, locally sourced creations, showcasing them in an Instagram feed drenched in richly saturated colors, textures and flavors. She pairs all of her photos with short, user-friendly ingredient specs, guidance, and descriptions that inspire us all to step up our kitchen game and believe that we, too, are capable of such culinary artistry. When Gerson is not in the kitchen, she can be found volunteering in the ocean, teaching surfing to under-privileged youth.


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