jayandstacey

Tattoos in the Restaurant Business

30 posts in this topic

I have nothing against it, it just seems that tattoos are almost a given in the restaurant biz - and the correlation seems to lean to more tattoos at the places that focus more on the food (e.g., that have formal training, that go the extra mile for special ingredients or preparations, that sort of thing.)

Is there a particular known reason? If not, any speculation?

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Not based on anything other than from personal experience, but I think a decent percent of chefs fall into cooking from troubled upbringings. It may be a rebelling against the man persona that got them there in the first place. So I guess its sort of an expression that they don't wear a suit and tie to work, so they can have tattoos and body art applied and showing at all times.

That and young chefs are a bunch of hipster doofuses.

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My coworkers who have tatoos just like to express themselves. Most of the tatoos have some personal meaning--not necessarily about food. I would personally never get one because I'm wimpy about needles.

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That and young chefs are a bunch of hipster doofuses.

My view is that whomever comes up with a fairly quick, fairly inexpensive, and fairly painless way to remove tattoos is going to be the richest person in the world around 2020.

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I'm guessing that it's just socially acceptable in restaurant settings. If you work in an environment where your boss and a lot of coworkers sport cool tattoos, then you're more likely to get one yourself, if only to fit in. Tattoos in traditional societies operate as rites of initiation and identity into specific groups.

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When I was a young hipster doofus, back in the days of dinosaurs, my friends and I got tattoos on body parts that could be covered. Thus mine is on my back shoulder. You can see it playing peek-a-boo through my hair in my wedding dress and I have one or two tops that just the top of it can be seen that I wear to work when I'm feeling wild and crazy. (And again, my hair often covers it anyway.) You don't see when I'm at a black tie event for work or running a conference or other event.

But that's just the way we played it back in the 90s. (And everything about mine is deeply meaningful. I wouldn't say I came from a troubled background though. Nor the friends that have them on biceps, covered by works shirts, or hips, or ankles, or inner wrist etc.)

I don't mind seeing high quality tattoos in the workplace. I think there are a lot of cheap ass ones that people should be regretting now. And if I had extra cash I would totally be thinking about a new one. Maybe when the little guy graduates college! I do notice the tattoos on Top Chef but I don't really notice them when dining out.

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I think the correlation is in regards to artists= chefs. Back in the late 80's when I started my collection of skin art, i was attending VCU before VCU became what it is today. tattoos were somewhat the norm, and mine are all spiritual, a collection of birth rites from boths ides of my family. But I tend to find chefs are and can be very expressive and tattoos may be the link between their food and thought.

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Speculating here, but I don't find it surprising that people who consciously take themselves out of what is considered "normal" society would express themselves in ways that would -- at least until recently -- have been unacceptable in the 9-5 world and hint at a sort of "I don't give a rat's ass what you think" machismo. Restaurant workers, campaign hacks (like my illustrated son, not the drones who work on the Hill), artists (Josh -- my daughter is studying graphic design at VCU getting as much ink on her arms and she is on paper), repo men (who don't want to be "ordinary people," go to about 19:30)...it's a way of saying, "it's not that I want to live like you and can't, it's that I don't want to live like you at all."

Also, despite the fact that ever doofus hipster in the world now has ink, it is cool.

(I'm thinking off getting something that snakes down my forearm almost to my wrist, so it just peeks our from under my crisp French cuffs when I extend my arm. Kind of like Andy at CityZen. I'm going to be the baddest speechwriter around.) :)

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I think the correlation is in regards to artists= chefs.

I suspect this is the answer.

Can I safely assume that artists are more likely to have tattoos than non-artists? That's my experience in my VERY limited exposure to artists (one, to be precise.) And so, since I didn't really think of chefs as artists....what I'm seeing is that when I delve into the world of artists, I'm pretty much only ever doing so when i go to a decent restaurant. Therefore, to me, it seems that restaurant workers tend to have 'tats' while most of the rest of the world doesn't. What's really happening is that most of the rest of the non-artist world doesn't - and that's where I spend 99.94% of my time.

For a while there, I was thinking a restaurant kitchen seemed sometimes to be like working on a submarine - and sub guys tend to have tattoos. But...nah.

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Restaurant workers, campaign hacks (like my illustrated son, not the drones who work on the Hill), artists (Josh -- my daughter is studying graphic design at VCU getting as much ink on her arms and she is on paper), repo men (who don't want to be "ordinary people," go to about 19:30)...it's a way of saying, "it's not that I want to live like you and can't, it's that I don't want to live like you at all."

What I find interesting about this is that I wouldn't have thought that restaurant workers considered themselves in this way. Then again, I didn't really think of them as artists either...and I've never worked in a restaurant, at least not in the 'food part' of one.

I'm glad I asked, and now actually have a little different (and I suppose better, but mainly different) respect for them.

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As a college professor, I have definitely noticed that tattoos are almost the norm, at least among domestic students (I don't see many tattoos on our international students). And very few of my students work in the restaurant industry. I think it's just a form of self-expression that is becomming more and more acceptable. For the most part, my students have ink that can be hidden for job interviews (shoulders, ankles, upper arms), but on other parts of campus students with really visible and striking tattoos are not unusual.

I do think the chef = artist connection is important. Also, a lot of restaurant people keep odd, late night hours, when the only places open in some neighborhoods (like mine) are bars and tattoo shops. And they often leave work with cash from tips. So there's a natural opportunity.

A friend of mine lost much of what she owned in a house fire many years ago. She already had some tattoos, but immediately after the fire she got another. Her comment to me, as she pointed to the tat, was "Here's something that can't be taken away from me."

And I can't believe I've just written this much on a topic on which I have no first-hand experience.

Time to get back to work...

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I think it's just a form of self-expression that is becomming more and more acceptable.

I worked in the restaurant industry when I was younger, and I certainly did my fair share of rebelling back in the day, but I waited until I was 31-32 years old to get my tattoos - I really wanted them to MEAN something to me, and to be ready to commit to something forever. I work in a cubicle at a pretty conservative government agency, and while I don't show my ink often or intentionally (usually), the one on my upper right arm is large and colorful, and sometimes it pops out a bit. It really doesn't seem to stress people out (other than my mother, who is still horrified that I have maimed myself). I think it has become much more a part of "normal" culture, and tattoos - particularly if they are well-done and non-offensive - are considered an acceptable form of artistic expression. Sure, every employer will have their threshold and rules and what not, but I don't think it is the taboo that maybe it once was, even in the corporate world.

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I agree with the "normal culture" reference above. It used to be tattoos could only be found on Marines, sailors, biker gangs or in prison. Now every other middle aged soccer mom has one.

As the great Lisa Simpson once said to Bart when he was thinking about getting a tattoo, "A tattoo? That's a way to rebel in a conformist sort of way"

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Because it's hot?

I think that tattoos are just like accents, they are hot when the people that have them are hot.

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I think that tattoos are just like accents, they are hot when the people that have them are hot.

I'd argue that a nice set of tattoos or a sexy accent could sway me to be attracted to someone who would otherwise be on the cusp. :P

On a more serious note, I don't agree with the artists vs. non-artists comment at all. There are tons of people who have every day jobs who also have tattoos - I think the difference may be that you don't see them because they have fewer and/or have chosen more discrete locations on their bodies. Those with the latter may be wanting to make an artistic statement, or they may be wanting to do something a bit outside of the norm.

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Tattoos mean different things to different people and certainly shouldn't be subjected to scrutiny from anyone but the bearer. This thread consists of generalizations and stereotyping . You show your shallowNess when you discuss.

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Tattoos mean different things to different people and certainly shouldn't be subjected to scrutiny from anyone but the bearer. This thread consists of generalizations and stereotyping . You show your shallowNess when you discuss.

Haha, wow. That's what theorizing is. The OP had some nerve asking a question like that.

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Tattoos mean different things to different people and certainly shouldn't be subjected to scrutiny from anyone but the bearer.

I think you would be hard pressed to make this case. Almost by definition -- and, as personal as decision to get inked might be -- a tattoo is a public statement that invites discussion or scrutiny.

This thread consists of generalizations and stereotyping . You show your shallowness when you discuss.

Well, this is DR.com rather than CulinaryMetaphics.com. A little shallow discussion is allowed. I mean, we do have a thread on ganing the system to cut back on the cost of bagels and cream cheese. And I don't see anybody drawing negative conclusions about profusely illustrated line cooks.

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I think you would be hard pressed to make this case. Almost by definition -- and, as personal as decision to get inked might be -- a tattoo is a public statement that invites discussion or scrutiny.

Well, this is DR.com rather than CulinaryMetaphics.com. A little shallow discussion is allowed. I mean, we do have a thread on ganing the system to cut back on the cost of bagels and cream cheese. And I don't see anybody drawing negative conclusions about profusely illustrated line cooks.

I'm in general agreement with Waitman here though, to me, "scrutiny" is akin to unfair/unhelpful judgment versus constructive and interesting discussion without implied generalization and with full respect for anyone making any decision absent harm to others. Scrutinize is what the media and we do with suspect proposals emanating from branches of government. Splitting hairs perhaps. FWIW.

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Tattoos mean different things to different people and certainly shouldn't be subjected to scrutiny from anyone but the bearer. This thread consists of generalizations and stereotyping . You show your shallowNess when you discuss.

Good point - I'll consider covering my shallowNess with a tattoo, then no one can say anything.

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wow! I like the mocking capital "N". Hilarious.

I've actually seen it tattooed over before, doesn't usually take, and it looks really painful

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I have nothing against it, it just seems that beards and mustaches are almost a given in the restaurant biz - and the correlation seems to lean to more beards and mustaches at the places that focus more on the food (e.g., that have formal training, that go the extra mile for special ingredients or preparations, that sort of thing.)

Is there a particular known reason? If not, any speculation?

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Because beards and tattoos are awesome. Clearly.

And because we're not necessarily in a profession where we're subjected to the judgmental closed-mindedness that has been known to happen in the office/9-5 world. Like, you know, judging people for their skin art and self-expression.

Sincerely,

Hipster Doofus With A Troubled Upbringing

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Because beards and tattoos are awesome. Clearly.

And because we're not necessarily in a profession where we're subjected to the judgmental closed-mindedness that has been known to happen in the office/9-5 world. Like, you know, judging people for their skin art and self-expression.

Sincerely,

Hipster Doofus With A Troubled Upbringing

They are kind of awesome - at least from the standpoint of...everyone I know that has beards and/or tattoos seems to be a really good person. I also sense that tattoos are accepted today in a way they would not have been 25 years ago. Like a pendulum has swung.

I originally asked the question for two reasons:

1. It seems noticable to me, more so than an average profession (at least that I ever see). I don't see them much at my work or amongst my neighbors. I guess one could argue that a restaurant is the most likely place where I'd simply interact with people a bit younger than me - and thus more likely to see tattoos simply for that reason -and restaurants really are no different from anywhere else.

2. I worked with a guy with 'sleeves' and I asked him about them. They were something no one else in the office had but clearly something he was proud of. Turns out he is mostly of native american heritage and he was telling me about his family and how tattoos were a part of that. It was very interesting and he seemed glad I asked (I know I was).

I didn't expect that anyone would be either offensive or defensive about it. As for it being vacuous conversation, well, maybe - a click can solve that. If nothing else, it seems that asking about it brings out some people's inner ahole.

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They are kind of awesome - at least from the standpoint of...everyone I know that has beards and/or tattoos seems to be a really good person.

Charles Manson had both. ;)

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Because beards and tattoos are awesome. Clearly.

And because we're not necessarily in a profession where we're subjected to the judgmental closed-mindedness that has been known to happen in the office/9-5 world. Like, you know, judging people for their skin art and self-expression.

Sincerely,

Hipster Doofus With A Troubled Upbringing

My beard does not leave my face and it is rarely groomed haha. I'm glad the government is too worried about offending an individual to have a dress code. I'm not sure they would require tattoos to be covered up unless vulgar/offensive/exxxplicit.

The hipster doofus referencewas lost on just about everyone, sorry about that. It really has nothing to do with tattoos.

I guess what I meant to say is that chefs are artists and tradeworkers, and artists tend to be more into a "scene" that is not well described by a 9-5 job. Tattoos are self expression, a form of artistry like was said above. And when I said "troubled upbringing," I guess I meant grew up on a pathway which was not aligned with an interest in the traditional way of learning in schools, not really the same correlation. Not necessarily into drugs or come from a troubled home. I think it is true that people who drop out of high school, or have no interest in attending college tend to flock to tradework employment. Not that applies to ALL chefs obviously.

I had an interest in cooking when I was 18. Not nearly as much as I do now. I also had other interests like computers and engineering, so I wound up in a different field. I was in no way classifying all chefs as troubled youths, but I think there is something to be said about different paths to employment.

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I'm curious how the managers and owners feel about this with regard to front of the house staff.

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