What do heavy metal musicians, inmates, and chefs have in common? A tendency toward tattoos. We’re not sure why ink is such a common sight in restaurant kitchens, but we’re all about it. So we rounded up some awesome local chef tattoos, and got the stories behind the ink.
Why did I get tattoos? Because they are addicting. That’s only part of the reason [laughs]. Actually, the owl represents the protector in parts of Sicily, which is where my family came from. It also signifies wisdom. I would like to think I’m pretty wise for being so young. And the significance of a bird to me represents the idea of flying and continuing to live and enjoy life.
Executive Chef Matt Selby, Central Bistro Bar
95-percent of my tattoos are food-related … the sacred peach, the dashi bonito fish, the Explorateur cheese label, Wonder Bread … we have options!
Octopus is my favorite sea creature, and I love tuna. I was 18 years old and knew I wanted to cook, so the tattoo marks that point in my life.
Chef Brandon Tucker, Mizuna
The knife is a bit of a nod to my dad–it’s his. The anglerfish doesn’t have much of a story. It’s just an awesome looking fish, and I love the ocean. The salt shaker is a reference to the kitchen, so in a way, it’s a tattoo about my two loves: the ocean and cooking.
My tattoos cover the basic meat groups, and I’ll eventually have the basic food groups. Vegetables are next.
When my younger sister was 17, she wanted to get a tattoo with me. We were in Texas, and didn’t know that you had to be 18 or older–even with the permission of a parent. She couldn’t get one, but I went ahead and got one. The knife and fork are a reference to my appreciation for cooking and dining.
I’m a butcher and I love the state of Iowa–hence the pig inside the state of Iowa. I grew up in Cedar Rapids. I’m pretty proud of where I’m from and I’m proud of what I do everyday, too.
I’m from Philly. I don’t miss Philly, but I miss the East Coast food so I got a Philly cheesesteak. And I’m a cook so I gotta have a Swedish chef from The Muppets. And the one on my forearm is all the utensils you cook with.
“Keep it fresh” was a saying I used all the time in my preparations that grew to be much more than that. Later on in my life, that saying became a coaching tool I used for employees, and something I could apply to anything–whether it was keeping the kitchen fresh, or your uniform fresh, or your personal life fresh.
My tattoos represent my family and where they came from in Japan. The snake represents my mom, who was born in the year of the snake and who brought me up to be the person I am today. The Baku is a an Asian creature–something that is said to get rid of nightmares. The hand is for the Japanese spirit. The Daruma dolls are for good luck and perseverance.