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Vidalia Chef de Cuisine Hamilton Johnson Shares His Ink

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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/]

Vidalia's chef de cuisine Hamilton Johnson is practically dripping with ink. Nearly 200 tattoos sprawl across his arms, hands, neck and legs. By the time you finish reading this sentence, he probably got another one. "If I haven't seen someone in a few days, they'll ask, 'Whatcha got now?'" he says.

He got his first tattoo just a few months after he graduated from culinary school when his mother passed away. It's a simple sketch: an angel hovering over her initials. "I was a momma’s boy growing up," he says. "This was a way to memorialize her."

Over the next eight years, he spent most of his time in the kitchen or in the chair. Many of the pieces reflect his love of food, including the slice of Key Lime pie, the pork logo and a waffle fry dripping with ketchup. Since he considered going to art school before he enrolled in culinary college, he has personally drawn out ideas for a quarter of the tats that litter his body.

There's still one major piece of untapped real estate: his chest. Johnson's got epic plans for it. "I'm thinking about a medieval dining scene with a crazy pig with apples in its mouth," he says. "There might be some pirates. Something off the wall and over the top."

He’s not in a rush to get it done though, "It's going to be a lot of time; a lot of pain; a lot of money."

—Nevin Martell

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