If you're a savvy diner who likes to cozy up to chefs, then you probably already know one of their after-hour secrets: When the last plate is fired, many of them head to the tattoo shop.
Check any restaurant kitchen -- underneath those white coats lies a rainbow of culinary-themed tattoos, everything from knives to pot-bellied pigs. Don't feel like asking a stranger to show off their tats? Now you can just fire up your computer to see what chefs are sporting. Members of the National Restaurant Association have put together Kitchen Ink!, an online photo gallery to of the best chef body art.
Legendary Chicago chef Rick Tramonto has been getting tattoos religiously since he was 18 years old.
"I've been getting different tattoos every year and a half or so to mark different journeys," he says. "My whole knife kit is [tattooed] around my legs. It's a lifestyle. I didn't do it to be on a bandwagon. I see more chefs doing this -- especially younger chefs -- but I would never promote that. It's a very personal and spiritual decision about what you want to mark your body with."
Tramonto's tribal tattoo is a souvenir from his Bora Bora vacation, while the knives and forks on his forearm represent his years in the kitchen. (Many them are documented in his recently published memoir, "Scars of a Chef: The Searing Story of a Top Chef Marked Forever by the Grit and Grace of Life in the Kitchen.")
To honor his soon-to-open New Orleans restaurant, Tramonto put a tattoo artist to task. "I just got a pretty big fleur-de-lis on my upper bicep," he says. "It's my 26th tattoo."
To see more chef tattoos, visit the gallery on the NRA Show's web site. So far there are 30-some entries; more will be added up until the show. You can see a slice of cake Charis Rose's (chef de cuisine at Goat Lady Dairy, a working farm in North Carolina) bicep, or check out Derek Simick's (Atwood Cafe in Chicago) sunny-side-up eggs (on the top of his feet!).
The simplest tattoo of all belongs to Matt Steigerwald of Lincoln Cafe in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. He has "Food is important" written his bicep. It's also the mission/logo behind his restaurant, and he's made a pledge to offer free frites for life to anyone who comes in with this exact tattoo.
So far, a dozen people have taken advantage of his offer. Would you?
Chew on This
Royal Wedding Cake Details Revealed! - YumSugar
Most Popular Stories
How to Throw a Dim Sum Party