Kitchen Ink

The only thing local chefs love more than leaving their mark on our food scene is leaving a mark on themselves.

By Liz Crain May 19, 2009 Published in the February 2009 issue of Portland Monthly

For most chefs, cuts and burns are common—mere flesh wounds that come with their chosen trade. But the bodies of many Portland chefs also carry a more permanent decoration: tattoos. Even Anthony Bourdain, host of the Travel Channel’s No Reservations, noted the large number of inked arms wielding knives and whisks in Portland in a 2007 segment on the Pacific Northwest.

Of course, in a town increasingly known for cutting-edge cuisine, perhaps it’s not surprising that the folks behind our food are a little edgy themselves. “Our craft is really artistic,” says John Gorham, Toro Bravo’s chef-owner. “I think a lot of chefs really appreciate art. And a tattoo is this raw art that you get to carry with you wherever you are.” In late November, seven local chefs (and one bartender) added to their skin art at a private and perfectly Portland gathering. Chefs paired off with tattoo artists from four different shops to add a food-inspired tattoo to their bodies; that night, tats still bandaged, each chef prepared a meal for his or her tattooist, inspired by their new ink.

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