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Urbana Executive Sous Chef Charles Dwan Shares His Ink

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/]

Urbana's executive sous chef Charles Dwan comes from tough stock. "My mom died when I was 10," he says, before quickly clarifying, "but she's still with us. Still kicking ass and taking names." His mother actually flatlined three times after suffering a brain aneurysm, but refused to succumb. That might seem like beating impossible odds to most, but Dwan simply says, "You don't mess with Mom." Not even if you're the Grim Reaper apparently. The giant tortoise shell cross tattoo that covers his entire back is the chef's tribute to her resilience.

His tattoo of the Cheshire Cat is inspired by his own survival skills. "I like cats because they always land on their feet," he says. "I've fallen out of many a plane and landed squarely on my feet." When his restaurant — Don Vicci's in Little Rock, Ark. — went under, he threw his résumé online to see what kind of a job he could scrounge up. He must have used up one of his nine lives, because he managed to score the gig of a lifetime as the chef de cuisine at the Island Restaurant Group in Bermuda, where he stayed for seven years. "We would go out sport fishing in the morning," he says. "After spending some time in the Bermuda Triangle, we would dock in front of the restaurant, walk up the steps, and hand them tuna, marlin, wahoo and whatever else for the specials that night."

Next up, Dwan wants to fill out his left arm with more food-themed tattoos to accompany the Morton's salt girl and the pig that already reside there. He's considering a slew of kitchen utensils, including spoons, knives, and whips, as well as a piece of Saint Lawrence, the patron saint of cooks.

—Nevin Martell

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