There was once a time when tattoos and kitchens just did not mix. Inked chefs were forced to cover their tattoos whilst cooking, and chefs were definitely not encouraged to express themselves with a bit of body art.
This has changed hugely over recent years. In fact we’ve discovered that many of our favourite chefs are covered in tattoos, most of which are food-related! But why do the chefs of today express themselves in this way?
The figure of the tattooed chefs is ubiquitous in the food world today. Tom Sellers, founder of Bermondsey’s Michelin-starred Restaurant Story also possesses an impressive collection of body art. “It’s a very expressive form of art, when you cook with food,” Sellers says. And it certainly doesn’t affect his status as a chef – the 26-year-old has gone from hosting a few pop-ups to running a modish, waiting-list- only Michelin-starred restaurant in just eight months.
Magnus Reid, chef and founder of The Rooftop Café (and, more recently, Tuck Shop in Shoreditch) is another inked chef. “My dad tattooed my leg when he came to visit,” Reid recalls. “I remember my mum saying that he wasn’t allowed to have any tattoos, so he did mine instead. It’s horrible, but it’s up there with my favourites.”
Ben Spalding, famed for his ‘chicken on a brick’ dish – a real London house brick coated in a caramel glaze, pairing chicken liver mousse with crispy chicken skin, circled by a mix of sweetcorn kernells and a white onion puree, is another heavily tattooed chef. Musical notes and red and blue jigsaw pieces climb up each limb, alongside the name Tilda (his daughter), and the phrase “keep your feet on earth but your head in the clouds.”
Tam Storrar, head chef at Soho’s Blanchette, agrees that the stigma of tattooed chefs is long gong. His tattoo happens to stretch all the way up his arm, incorporating a pig’s head and a garden of botanicals.
American chef, and winner of Bravo’s Top Chef, Stephanie Izard agrees that today’s chefs’ love of tattoos stems from their creativity. “Cooking is an art and tattoos are another form of art,” she says.
Creativity is key when designing menus that really impress, so it’s no surprise that the world’s top chefs are a creative bunch! If you were going to get a food-related tattoo, what would you pick? Tweet @londonkitchen and let us know.
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