Support Local Journalism. Join Riverfront Times Press Club.

The restaurant life has a tendency to get under your skin 

click to enlarge 4701663.0.jpg
Click here for a slideshow of some of the St. Louis area's best kitchen tats.

Work in a restaurant, and you're bound to get scarred.

Sharp knives, sizzling sauté pans, boiling oil, arms overloaded with fragile plates and pointed silverware: The opportunities for the kinds of cuts and burns that mark you for life are innumerable. And those are just the visible injuries.

Long hours spent doing the same tedious task again and again in hot, cramped kitchens break down bone and muscle, tendon and joint. The humiliation of being chewed out in front of your coworkers for a misfired entrée and the separation from the weekends and the holidays that civilians can spend with loved ones break down mind and soul.

The failure of a restaurant can break everything — physical, emotional, financial — all at once.

To succeed in this industry, you need an edge. You can't simply tolerate pain, you have to revel in it — you have to turn it into something you own. For some that might be manic creative energy or an addiction to the adrenaline rush; for others a black sense of humor or a propensity to drink hard and pursue one-night-stands after work.

For many, it's a tattoo.

But this is just surface analysis. No single explanation could suffice for each chef, cook, server and restaurateur featured in Jennifer Silverberg's photographs. Some bear ink that predates their careers in the kitchen. Others display their passion for the culinary arts and those who inspired them to cook: salt and pepper shakers, a garden, a knife. A few defy words entirely.

Here are their scars. Here are their stories.
— Ian Froeb

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

July 28, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2021 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation