For the Love of Grub: Food, Ink Come Together on Local Tats

By / Photography By Chip Riegel | December 01, 2013
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From tribal tradition to seaman’s badge to lovers’ promise to drunken impulse, tattoo motivations are as varied as their designs. In ink’s current incarnation as a culturally accepted form of self-expression, however, most choose them to showcase meaning, memory or passion.

The tattoos on these pages adorn the bodies of Rhode Island’s farmers, chefs, mariners, coffee roasters, servers and farmers’ market vendors with artful images of food and drink. Because for them, it’s simply not enough to carry the joy of food inside them—they wear their passion on their skin. Permanently.

Born to cook tattoo

"I live and breathe the ink I wear on my arms … the desire and commitment to being a chef inspired my tattoos."

Jake Rojas, chef

tattoo of a spoon on leg

It’s my homage to being a chef, and being a female in an extremely male environment. It’s my chef’s tool.

Jordan Goldsmith, chef

Tattoo of garlic

This garlic is textbook—it’s perfect. I try to grow things perfectly but it never works out. I like that people eat the odd-looking ones because if I threw away every veggie that looked odd, I wouldn’t have much of a crop left.

Jim Buckle, farmer

Squid and beets tattoo

Life is complicated and convoluted, like a squid tangled in beets.

Becca Buckler, agricultural conservationist/mariner

Tattoo of tomato

I got it because I love what I do.

Osbert Duoa, farmers’ market vendor and expert canner

Tattoo of coffee bean

I get tattoos of things I really like, and with coffee, I’m in it for the long haul.

Ana Mallozzi, coffee educator

tattoo of a pineapple

It’s not like getting your partner’s name on there — my pineapple’s never gonna cheat on me!

Aly Rego, artist/mariner

Tattoo of radish

Funny thing is, before I got this sleeve I had never tried a radish—I just thought they were really beautiful.

Julie Casino, server

I got these words in NYC before a Beard House dinner I did with Jamie Bissonnette. We had been drinking Lambrusco. A lot. He dared me. I went first. He got a matching tattoo on his arm.

Matt Jennings, chef

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