Florence Pugh's Freewheeling Instagram Cooking Tutorials Are Salvaging My 2020

Savannah Walsh
Photo credit: Michael Tran - Getty Images

From ELLE

To help combat mid-pandemic anxiety, I've relied on an ever-growing cast of quarantine characters. These include several Real Housewives, the version of Jake Gyllenhaal that needs a haircut and sings Sondheim, and Chef Florence Pugh. The Oscar nominee, known for the one-two punch that was last year's Little Women and Midsommar, is producing the cooking tutorials of my dreams.

I first stumbled upon her Instagram Story series in January, when she endeavored to make homemade peanut butter ice cream. Although surrounded by a beautiful, industrial-looking kitchen (which she presumably shares with Zach Braff), Pugh kept things decidedly low-key. There was no format, swipe up option, or sponsorship (the usual trappings of influencer-curated content)—just front-facing camera angles and haphazard lighting changes. At one point, Pugh asked us if she was doing something correctly. It was completely unpretentious.

Since that first freewheeling video, Pugh has shared several cooking tutorials with her 1.5 million Instagram followers. She's made butternut squash soup and tossed summer salad, inspiring me (despite all microwavable odds) to reach for a garlic clove myself. Although her culinary commentary predates the pandemic, it's really found its groove amidst sourdough fervor and fits of banana bread baking. Like our current chaotic season of life, Pugh's rhythm is in the complete lack of recipe.

"When the world lockdown started and it obviously got serious very quickly, I found myself desperate to chop. Feed. Eat. Repeat!" Pugh told ELLE U.K. for its June 2020 cover. "It keeps me calm, stirring and creating." She was built to soothe as chaos reigns, sipping white wine (ice included!), paying homage to chorizo (choritho), and warning us that the camera is balanced on a NutriBullet ("so if you fall, I'm sorry"). Not all heroes wear capes (she's not even wearing an apron in most of the videos), but Pugh has saved me from many a nightly panic spiral. It's the blurry, untimed, messy-haired, overall-wearing, laughing, drinking, dancing, cooking medicine I need in this quarantine.



I've begun to think of Pugh as a bit of a fairy godmother. One minute she's guiding me through her Gran's marmalade recipe. (“I’ve never done this before, but I have eaten a lot of marmalade.”) The next, she's fashioning browned bread while drinking boxed fizz. (Translation: toast and mimosas.) During the latter lesson, she warns, “I’m a big butter fan. If you’re not, then close your eyes because it’s gonna get way worse.” You get the feeling that not only does Pugh know you're watching her through a smudged screen wearing the same sweats from two days ago, but that she prefers it that way.



I challenge you to hear Pugh coo, “come on love,” as she opens canned corn or refer to mushrooms as “mushies” and not feel the therapeutic waves. Others are finding comfort in her culinary stylings too.

"So I am by no means a pizza maker," Pugh offers as a disclaimer at the start of her latest video. "I've just followed a recipe and learnt how to make it, so please do not think I'm a pro." She proceeds to knead the dough, stopping to ask us how we're doing while she works. She leaves in her mistakes, lets everyone know when their shoulders will begin to hurt mid-whisk, and tells us what music to listen to while cooking.

During twisty times, Flo is reliably in the kitchen, guiding us through the imperfect motions and embracing her meal in whatever form it ends up. And, for a brief moment, it doesn't feel so scary when she encourages us to do the same.

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