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.
- "I got the saffron flower because I cook and the bumblebee because I’m a huge Blind Melon fan. The quote 'No timeframe' comes from their song 'Sleepy House.'"
- "I got this when I moved to Denver in 2004 for a fresh start. It’s a statue of an Egyptian scarab with a live one breaking out of it. It’s about regeneration and resurrection."
- Together with the next picture, the King and Queen of Hearts: "The last name is Hartzell and I’m a bit of a romantic. This shows that there’s a thin line between love and hate, but love comes out on top."
- "I just knew that I didn’t want to do a nautical star. I just wanted a shining light."
- "This was inspired by reading a Tom Robbins’ Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, which had several interesting quotes about cranes in it."
- "This is a Japanese plum blossom, which is winter flower. The tree produces a fruit called ume."
- "I’m a cat person; always have been. It’s easy to be a cat person in this business, because you can work 14 hours and go out afterwards without worrying. My cat’s got a bowl of food and a clean litter box, so I can go blow off some steam."
- "We talked about doing a samurai wrestling a koi, but the artist couldn’t do the level of detail I wanted on the warrior, so this is what happened instead."
Potenza chef de cuisine Stephen Hartzell got his first tattoo — a tribal band — when he was a "rebellious" 22-year-old with piercings and hair that almost reached his waist. His ears still sport plugs, but his dark hair is trimmed short. He has a lot more tattoos now. Both arms are sleeved up, his right ribcage is consumed with an Egyptian-styled piece that took 32 hours to complete, and he has work done on one leg.
There's one piece that he doesn't have. "For a little while, I had a suckling pig snout in my freezer that I was going to use as an ink stamp," he says. "It was going to be like a little pig kiss on the top of my foot like it just bumped into me." He ultimately let a friend use the idea and the severed extremity instead.
He hasn't been surprised to see kitchens filled with an influx of ink. "This business is full of misfits, rebels, people with records, boozers, and self-destructive derelicts," he says. "It’s very accepting of anyone."
People always ask Hartzell what he's going to do when he’s old and covered in tattoos. "My reply is always, 'Grow an epic beard and look like a badass motherfucker,'" he says. "I'll just be happy that I made it to that age."
· All Previous Editions of Ink Spotted [-EDC-]