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701's Ed Witt Shares His Nearly Full Suit of Tattoos

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Welcome back to Ink Spotted, a feature in which Eater talks to DC's tattooed chefs and gets the stories behind their most intriguing ink.

[Photos: Nevin Martell/]

The way 701’s executive chef Ed Witt looks at things, there are two great unknowns: space and the deep sea. As a tribute to those uncharted realms, his torso and legs are almost completely inked over with tattoos that evoke nautical and interstellar themes. One leg is covered with mermaids, Neptune and a crumbling Atlantis. Above that scene on the rib, a sea monster writhes next to a "knocked out mermaid." On the other side of his body there are space girls and Flash Gordon rockets.

His first ink was a dolphin that he got while he was attending UMD and sailing in his spare time. It’s still there on his back. “I never cover anything up,” says the chef. Witt didn’t get deeply involved in tattoo culture, however, until he moved out to San Francisco several years later after attending the Culinary Institute of America. On the West Coast, he started getting the sleeves on his arms done, which were eventually connected across his shoulder blades. For the next decade, he got worked on regularly until he was well on his way covering almost his entire body. “It wasn’t necessarily intentional,” says Witt. “It becomes a balancing act because you look at yourself in the mirror and you begin to realize that you need a full suit to look great.”

There was just one great unknown left to explore. “The last thing left was my ass,” says Witt. “Now it’s not like everyone’s looking at my ass, but it was just big white cheeks sticking out.” That final frontier was ultimately mapped out, so now Witt is almost completely tattooed from head to toe. “Everyone will be shocked the first time they sit down with me and see me,” he admits. “But after the second or third time they won’t even notice the tattoos any more.”
—Nevin Martell

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701 Restaurant

701 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, , DC 20004 (202) 393-0701 Visit Website