Food Matters: Classic Ink! |

Food Matters: Classic Ink!

The only thing more awesome than sipping, sampling and grooving around our mountain paradise with a giddy gaggle of talented and talkative chefs, winemakers, spirit-slingers, farmers, food purveyors and buddies old and new? Enjoying the vast gallery of artwork inked on their beautiful bodies. Since I’ve been afflicted with epic tattoo envy for as long as I’ve avoided getting work done, I set out to the 35th annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen on a mission: Capture cool culinary-themed images. My phone on Monday morning was stuffed with vivid fruits, fish, flowers, knives, organs, animals and all other kinds of eye candy. I snapped backs, biceps, ribcages, necks, arms — even a butt cheek! No better icebreaker than that. Enjoy some spectacular artistry from fellow food fanatics, right here.

“It’s a pineapple! What more is there to say? OK. It’s half-geometric, half-watercolor. I got it two months ago by Skyler Espinoza at Certified Customs in Denver. Pineapples are the symbol of hospitality. And I use pineapples a lot in my cooking. One of my favorite sayings when it comes to pineapples: ‘Stand tall, wear a crown, and be sweet on the inside.’”

—CHEF DAVID WANG, Aspen, Colorado.

“I’m doing Wine for Zillionaires [seminar], and who better represents the zillionaire than the tatted up guy in prison? ’Cause if you’re gonna make a zillion dollars, you’re gonna do a lot of crime. Oh, and this is the first wine seminar in the world to give out handcuffs, branded with the [made-up] Soused State Prison logo.”


“A breakdown of the primals, we all got it as a team after winning Cochon555 in Denver [in March], by Stephanie Larson at her studio apartment. Ashley Jenkins, our pastry chef [at Viceory Snowmass], got it on her forearm to match her other pig. Will Nolan got it on his knee. Mark Harding got it on his forearm. And Patrick Kennedy wussed out—you hear that, buddy? When we win Le Grand Cochon [in Chicago this October], he’ll get one.”

—CHEF BIG MIKE RUTHERFORD, Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

“I got it at the Sailor Jerry party at the X Games three or four years ago by famous tattoo artist Oliver Peck. Friends of mine used to call me Rooster. I dunno, they said I strutted around like a rooster. And I love chickens.”

—JUSTIN GORDON, Aspen, Colo.

After I sold my book (“Sous Chef”), I spent all my royalties on a trip to Europe. I was in Copenhagen and dined out every night there in amazing restaurants. The friends I was with said we should get tattoos to commemorate. So, really drunk one night, I drew up this tattoo of a place setting. I felt it really captured the experience. It was also on my 32nd birthday, April 23. I’ve been under the needle 15 times, but this is the only (culinary tattoo).”

—CHEF MICHAEL GIBNEY, New York City and Boulder, Colorado.

“It’s a bird eating a piece of bread. Does that count?”

—MYSTERY FESTIVALGOER at Sunday’s Grand Tasting

“Kanpai on my ankle; it literally means bottoms up. I got it in college at the University of North Texas. Then the first year that I was working at Kenichi, I walked through in flip-flops, and [chef] Kiyomi saw and said, “No flip-flop! Aughhh! You have kanpai written on your foot?! They did spell it right, you’re good.”

—DEREK LOVELL, Aspen, Colorado.

I got it in 2006, on St. Patrick’s Day. I was living in Connecticut; got on the train at 8 a.m. to go to New York City. We started drinking beers…about noon, I made a joke, like, let’s get a cupcake tattoo. And my buddies were like, ‘I got $20 on it! I got $20 on it!’ So they all threw down and paid for the tattoo. I’m a pastry chef, and I actually don’t like cupcakes.”

—CHEF JEB BREAKELL, New York City and Boulder, Colorado.

“Tattoos are meant to be memorials to different times in your life, and parts of your life. I have a clementine tree because my daughter’s name is Clementine; a sailor woman with a banner that says, “eat well”; a radish; a piece of burnt toast in homage to my dad. (He burns a lot of toast.) There’s one given to me by a strange Hell’s Angel in a basement in Canada when I was too young—won’t show you that one.”

—CHEF HUGH ACHESON, Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia.

“I’m head of security for Rickhouse Social. I got the tattoo because I’m a bouncer. I’ve worked at almost every bar in town…everybody tries to push my buttons and play me. I’m your Huckleberry. Bring it on.”

—CHAD OGBURN, Aspen, Colorado.

“I love to eat fish —any kind, barbecue, sushi. I got a koi fish and full sleeve by Brian Foster from Elizabeth St. Tattoo in Riverside, Calif. He put a hammerhead on my foot, too. That way, if my foot is dangling in the ocean and a shark sees it, they’ll think it’s another shark and won’t bite my foot!” His plan has worked—so far.

—GONZO, Aspen, Colo., and Seal Beach, California.

“I did sushi for 12 years, so that’s a throwback. And cooking is in my heart.


“My father had a love for Catholic art, so I did a rock ‘n’ roll sacred heart for him, yellow roses for my nieces born in Texas, and Polynesian art and a Japanese koi fish for when I learned to cook.”


CHEF JUSTIN LISIUS from Rosenberg’s Bagels and Delicatessen in Denver didn’t need to explain his colorful full sleeve, which includes a gun, monsters, and saltshaker. (Admittedly, I was too busy swooning over his team’s smoked sturgeon at Heritage Fire—amazing!)

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