Kitchen Ink: Tattooed chefs in the Twin Cities

Skin art for local foodies

Travail

Having a giant tattoo of C-3PO from Star Wars on your arm is certainly going to get attention, especially when it's joined by a bevy of other images from the original trilogy of films (Jar Jar Binks need not apply). So Geoff Hausmann is used to being stopped by curious patrons whenever he walks through the dining room at Travail, the recently opened restaurant that has quickly become one of the best in the north metro. While Hausmann's images from a "galaxy far, far away" draw the most attention, chef Kale Thome also sports several designs, from a tiny piece of cash by his thumb to a flying eyeball around the crook of his elbow.

Pizza Luce

Scott Pampuch, The Corner Table
Kate N. G. Sommers
Scott Pampuch, The Corner Table
Dan McGleno, St. Agnes Bakery
Kate N. G. Sommers
Dan McGleno, St. Agnes Bakery
Dan McGleno, St. Agnes Bakery
Kate N. G. Sommers
Dan McGleno, St. Agnes Bakery
Mitch Omer, Hell's Kitchen
Kate N. G. Sommers
Mitch Omer, Hell's Kitchen
Ruth Menard, Hell's Kitchen
Kate N. G. Sommers
Ruth Menard, Hell's Kitchen
Maurice Evans, Hell's Kitchen
Kate N. G. Sommers
Maurice Evans, Hell's Kitchen

When you say "restaurant" and "tattoo," the various Pizza Luce locations jump immediately to mind. It's another venue where tattoos—and piercings—seem to be a prerequisite for the job. Still, you won't find all that many food-related tattoos among the staff. And much of the work is extensive, featuring full sleeves, intricate designs, and images that range from dark to playful.

Kings

Chef Chad Rielander of Kings spends his days preparing potato gnocchi, pot roast, and other delights at his south Minneapolis wine bar and restaurant, but his tattoos are another passion. He has started work on an impressive but still-unfinished full-sleeve tattoo, sporting coils of barbed wire from his wrist through his arm and around his neck.

Cake Eater Bakery

Sheela Namakkal loves to bake, which is a great thing for the patrons at Cake Eater Bakery, where you can choose from dozens of kinds of cupcakes, cookies, muffins, and other goodies. It's also a love she shows on her body, from the "Live by the Whisk, Die by the Whisk" tattoo to a full sleeve of baked goods and equipment (highlighted by a giant mixing bowl). She's not alone in her decorations, however. Emily Moore Harris also showcases plenty of ink, highlighting a love of sewing and a fez-wearing bird.

Grand Café

At this south Minneapolis restaurant, where the brunch landed on Bon Appetit's Top 10 list in 2009, head chef Ben Pichler doesn't necessarily have food-related tattoos, though he does have several saffron lily flowers—a classic addition to many dishes—tattooed on the inside of one arm. Others are dedicated to his wife and kids. Sous chef Jim McIntosh goes for a more whimsical look for one of his tattoos: a coffee pot fully percolating.

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