Flapjacks and Followers



A series of Walker-Jacks’s food Instagrams.

5,774. This is the number of followers Catherine Walker-Jacks ‘13 has managed to amass in just four months. Driven by her passion for cooking and photography, she decided to start an Instagram account in January to showcase her breakfast recipes. With a biography that reads “poach eggs, not elephants,” Walker-Jacks’ account, called “The Breakfast Chick,” combines colorful photos of breakfast foods with witty captions.

The account began under the handle “@cateats.” Originally, it was a place for Walker-Jacks to post pictures of different meals she had cooked, whether dinners, desserts, or breakfasts.

“It was kind of a natural thing,” she said. “I had been wanting to start a food Instagram for a while.”

In February, as her account grew to over two thousand followers, she decided to rebrand herself and focus on her true passion: breakfast. This meant changing her original account name, which she said she didn’t like very much anyway, to a new one, “@thebreakfastchick.” Today, the account mainly displays breakfast foods she has cooked herself, but she occasionally shares photos of meals from her favorite restaurants.

Over time, she has perfected a strategy for pleasing her thousands of followers. When asked what type of food scrapes up the most likes, Walker-Jacks said, “That’s very easy: avocados.” The statistics prove her point. A photo of an avocado ‘rose,’ intricately cut and shaped to look like a flower, is one of Walker-Jacks’ most popular photos with almost four thousand likes.

An additional trick, Walker-Jacks discovered, is surprising her followers. “People like what looks cool. What gets the most likes is something that’s a little unconventional,” she said. For example, Walker-Jacks once used a mold to shape her over-easy eggs into a the shape of a skull, with two pieces of bacon serving as crossbones. The photo amassed over four thousand likes and three hundred comments.

Walker-Jacks lent some advice about the many different aspects that contribute to a great food photo. “Good lighting is number one,” she said. “You want to make sure the lighting is good, you have the right angle, that it’s well framed.” When it comes to editing a food photo, “Saturation is your friend,” she said.

Walker-Jacks makes the majority of her meals in the dorm kitchen at Brown University, where she is a junior. Her friends ask her to cook for them all the time.

“It’s tough because I’m super busy,” she said. However, having hungry friends is almost necessary when she makes a tall stack of waffles. “I have my friends come help me eat,” she said.

She has also found that her Instagram account has come with a few major perks. “I’ve worked with a bunch of friends,” Walker-Jacks said, “which has been great because then I get free food.”

Walker-Jacks has recently begun to partner with different food companies, who send her food to use in her recipes. Modern Oats sent her a sampling of their oatmeals, which she then used to create an elaborate breakfast bowl. She explained that since she is completely off a meal-plan at Brown, she is cooking or eating out for all her meals.

Walker-Jacks said that her favorite breakfast food is eggs Benedict, and her favorite fast-food breakfast is a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. When asked about her personal nutrition, she said, “Balance is important. If I have a lot of Nutella and pancakes one day, I’ll try to be a little healthier the next. A lot of times I post these really crazy things, but I’m not just eating sixteen chocolate chip pancakes on my own!”

Walker-Jacks’ experience at Groton has also influenced her in many aspects. She said that she really liked the Dining Hall while she was here, especially its variety of different foods. When asked about her favorite Groton meal, she mentioned the “Thanksgiving dinner,” the common name for a Groton meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. Groton’s breakfast muffins, she said, were also a favorite of hers.

Her cooking inspiration happens to be another Groton graduate, Candace Nelson ‘91, who founded Sprinkles Cupcakes. Having gone from investment banking to cupcake baker, Walker-Jacks said that Nelson is a perfect example of someone who turned a hobby into a job. Although Walker-Jacks doesn’t plan on pursuing a career as a chef, she said that she and one of her friends from Groton “dream about maybe opening a restaurant one day.”