C. StilesThree years ago, when he left his corporate job, Richard Hales got his first tattoo a Celtic dove and lion. He designed it with the tattoo artist. "You have to stop putting too much meaning and look at it as art on the body." None of his tattoos has to do with cooking. "I express myself with food."
C. StilesGuily Booth; chef at Cafeina. She got her first tattoo when she was 18. It was a Celtic image she drew. Her favorite is a medallion with the initials ER for the love of her life Elizabeth Remington. Before year's end, she'd like to add a purple octopus wielding cooking utensils a whip, some knives, and a pan. Maybe chefs favor tattoos, she figures, "because their arms have so many scars."
C. StilesSandra Stefani; chef, teacher, and owner of Casa Toscana Ristorante.
C. StilesA native of Tuscany, Sandra Stefani wears her heritage proudly. Pegasus, the winged horse on the Tuscan flag, is tattooed on her back, along with the complete botanical drawings of Tuscan genius Leonardo da Vinci. Her first tattoo was of Medusa, the snake-haired Greek goddess who could kill with her looks.
C. StilesThe self-avowed "biker chick" (Stefani rides a Harley 883) also has butterflies on her chest, but no cooking-related ink. "I don't wear my profession. When I get out, I am me. Im a freedom individual." Her favorite tattoo: "The little, teeny-weeny breast cancer ribbon" around the black radiation dot between her breasts.
C. StilesAfter attending a party in Hialeah where the hosts roasted a whole lechón, Kyle Foster was inspired to have a strip of bacon and the chart of a pig's edible parts tattooed on his arm. Theyre among the seven tats Foster has added to the chef image he had inked on his forearm when he was 21. Cooking "is what I always wanted to do forever."
C. StilesDetail of Foster's tattoo.
C. StilesAlex Sauerteig; sous chef at Smoket BBQ.
C. StilesEric Gonzalez; sous chef at Smoket BBQ.
C. StilesAlex Sauerteig got his first tat a little tribal design when he turned 18 and has since lost count. "If I were to guess, I'd say I have over 40. Its kind of an addiction." He has his chefs knife a Wüsthof inked on his arm, and the musical instruments he plays on his chest. Tattoos, he says, "are counterculture. Chefs fall under that line."
C. StilesEric Gonzalez didn't wait until he turned 18. "I was 15, and I got in trouble for it." His mother saw the initials EG on his upper arm and grounded him. Now he has his whole left arm sleeved, half of his right, his ankle, and his upper back. Hes leaving space on his back for a spatula, a knife, and a sauté pan.
C. StilesTakeshi Kamioka's favorite tattoo is the one with the two hannuya masks on his forearms. "Theyre of a demon and a girl, which are opposites in hannuya. Why are they my favorites? They just came out good."
C. StilesHis tats have nothing to do with his profession. "It's more about fashion than anything. In Japan, if you have tattoos, you have to cover them. But here, it's more like fashion. It's accepted."
C. StilesJes Hill Smith's favorite tattoo is the stick figures on her wrists. "It's a boy and a girl, and the boy is giving her his heart. I think it recognizes my childlike qualities."
C. StilesThe culinary trade seems more open to tatted workers. "It's a business that has always been a little more accepting of offbeat behaviors. Especially at Howley's, where we can show our tattoos all we want. We can get away with a little more with our appearance."
C. StilesDetail of Hill Smith's tattoo.
C. StilesDetail of Hill Smith's tattoo.
C. StilesRobert Downie Jr.; night cook at Brewzzi in CityPlace.
C. StilesYou could say Robert Downie Jr. wears his emotions on his sleeve. His first and favorite a cross in tribute to his dead grandmother is part of a full-sleeve mosaic of colorful abstract images.
C. StilesHe has a ram (he's an Aries) on his right arm, a skull with two chef's knives on his right leg, and a map of Florida inside his leg. "I was born and raised here all my life." And he's working on adding more tattoos. "It's my way of expressing my personality."
C. StilesSteve Martorano got his first tattoo when he was still a minor. "All the guys on my corner back in Philly went down right when we turned 16 and got the lyrics to a song by the Intruders, 'I'll Always Love My Mama.' My father got mad because it was nothing about him. But my first love was music."
C. StilesHis favorite tattoo is of Padre Pio, a modern-day saint, inked on his leg. "He had the stigmata of Christ, meaning he always bled from his hands and his feet. He died in the '60s. Hes my personal saint."
C. StilesMichele London; personal and private chef, the Bohemian Chef.
C. StilesWhy chefs have tattoos: "I see my cooking as an art form, and my tattoos are another art form, so it's a kind of lifestyle that is shared, the artistry of life. Chefs are like artists; our canvas is the plate."
C. StilesFavorite tattoo: "My favorite one is probably the iris with the poison-dart tree frog on my right front hip. But actually I love them all, 'cause they are sort of a life story."
C. StilesCooking-related tattoos: "I have two cupcake tattoos so far. Being a baker and a little cupcake-obsessed, I think of a new cupcake design every other day. I have a spatula with icing about to drip off and the word Sugar on my wrist. I also have the words Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice in a banner."
C. StilesFirst tattoo: "I got my very first tattoo in Vegas when I was 18. It was a Kanji that meant 'artist/creative.' I don't really remember anyone I knew being tattooed at the time, and I was the only one who got tattooed on that trip. When doing my sleeve, I didnt want to cover it up, so now its in the belly of my panda."
C. StilesRich Neyland; line cook at Harpoon Louie's. His favorite tattoo is the "evil aquarium," a full-sleeve scene with an octopus, shark, sea horse, and crab. Neyland finds cooking-related tats "cliché and boring." "I love filet mignon, but not enough to carry a tattoo of it around for the rest of my life. I've got enough burn scars on my hands and arms to remind me Im a chef... getting a tattoo of it would be redundant." So, why do so many chefs have tattoos? "We're intellectuals, vagabonds, miscreants, artists, transients, migrants, stoners, alcoholics, freaks, geeks, and weirdos. Being slightly out of your mind is a prerequisite of being successful in this biz, and our tattoos are certainly a reflection of that."