Tattoos in the kitchen

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by pinkykaz, Aug 28, 2011.

  1. pinkykaz

    pinkykaz

    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    I work in a corporate restaurant and I am semi heavily tattooed (15 now, 3 visible if you look hard enough), I have large holes in my ears and a mohawk. I am not a first impression kind of person if you go by looks. I am being pushed up the ladder at this place, but my corporate chef and GM hate tattoos and piercings, and they have slowed my progression down, just not stopped it. I don't plan on stopping getting more tattoos, as I am who I am and will not change that to please anyone. I am wondering tho if this will hinder me in my career? As of now it has not as I can hide my tattoos and take out my piercings having them be un-noticed.

    What is your opinion about this? From a hiring stand point or an employee stand point? I have not gotten many tattoos in visible places yet because I haven't got far enough in my career yet and I would like it to not hinder me...

    Is it because I am in a corporate place, or is it because alot of people are very judging of people with tattoos?

    Thanks in advanced for any response you may give.

    -Kyle
     
  2. leeniek

    leeniek

    Messages:
    1,647
    Likes Received:
    45
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    For me, if you want to get a tattoo or piercing, well it's your body and you have to live with it.  As long as it doesn't affect your work (and honestly I can't see how it would) it's fine with me.  When I was AKM, the KM had a visible tatoo on his arm and no one seemed to bother with it.  As for your chef and GM... it could be that your appearance doesn't fit in with their corporate image and maybe that's why you're being held back?

    One of the best servers I have ever worked with had sleeves... more often than not customers would ask him where he had his work done and comment on it as the artwork was very well done. 
     
  3. panini

    panini

    Messages:
    5,168
    Likes Received:
    283
    Exp:
    Owner/Operator
    Pinky

    "  I don't plan on stopping getting more tattoos, as I am who I am and will not change that to please anyone."As of now it has not as I can hide my tattoos and take out my piercings having them be un-noticed.    

    "As of now it has not as I can hide my tattoos and take out my piercings having them be un-noticed."  

    /img/vbsmilies/smilies/confused.gif

    I think you are experiencing your answer now, no?

    BTW, If they call you Pinky, I hope the mohawk is pink.

    D.Rodman never changed his ways and I think he paid greatly for it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2011
  4. petemccracken

    petemccracken

    Messages:
    3,401
    Likes Received:
    159
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    In my opinion, when one makes choices, one must accept the consequences that result from making those choices.

    Today, in the USA, tattoos and body piercings are controversial and, for many in our society, not acceptable in a multitude of situations. One of the consequences of choosing to display a tattoo or body piercing may be to restrict opportunities to work in your chosen field. You make the choice, you made the choice, you will have to endure the consequences.

    Would I hire you? With my current clientele, no. I cannot risk the potential reduction in income. Remember, I do not pay your salary or wages, I only process the paperwork and write the checks, the customers provide the money to pay you.

    Yes, there are probably some chefs or managers that object to body art, but there are far more customers than there are chefs or managers and, whether we like it or not, the customer pays the bills.

    BTW, do I have personal objections to tattoos and piercings? You bet! I think they are dumb choices for one looking for a career that involves meeting a variety of people that one depends on to provide money to live on. Do my personal objections affect my hiring practices? I'd like to think not.

    Summing up, it is a question of $$$ more than any other issue.
     
  5. pinkykaz

    pinkykaz

    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    I feel I am being affected somewhat now by it yes, but I have only worked in corporate places really. So I was wondering on the private owner aspect of the question really, which a lot of people here seem to be on. I agree with you Pete on the aspect that as a chef you deal with customers, and certain people can not deal with an 'extreme' look. That's where I don't understand it tho, the restaurant I currently work at I don't see customers. I am never in the FOH and in my position do not need to be. That's why I'm confused, its just my GM and corporate chef (corporate chef who I have met one time in 7 months of working for the company) who don't like them and are slowing me down moving me up in management. Luckily I have a great chef and sticks his neck out for me because of my work ethic.
     
  6. petemccracken

    petemccracken

    Messages:
    3,401
    Likes Received:
    159
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    My take on the situation? You will struggle for the rest of your life to move into management because of your tattoos and piercings. Even management of BOH.

    Is that right, fair, or just? Probably not. Is it a fact? Probably yes.

    Justified or not, there is a common perception that tattoos and piercings are evidence of rebellion, individuality, and non conformity  that is anathema to conventional management philosophy. Will that change? Only time will tell.

    The only way to overcome that perception is by performance, however, to get the opportunity to perform requires overcoming the perception. Unfortunately, you appear to be caught in a "Catch 22" situation.
     
    Chrisopotamus and cronker like this.
  7. sandbar cook

    sandbar cook

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    I have worked for quite a few chefs,and not one of them has had a problem with tattoos. I have 3 that are visible on my forearms and if I am going to be seen by the public I just roll my sleeves down.But on the other hand I don't think that neck tattoos would be recieved well in a super fine dining setting.
     
  8. panini

    panini

    Messages:
    5,168
    Likes Received:
    283
    Exp:
    Owner/Operator
    Kyle,

      If I had a position for a specific skilled position and you were up against a clean cut look. Same qualifications. I'd hire the model.

    I'm not going to BS you. But if you turn off any % of customers it's a liability.

       Doesn't mean my best employee has sleeves.

    It has nothing to do with a way of life. You must look at it as just a dress code.

    good luck dude

    pan,

    Hey, I luv you man, but it's the real world!
     
  9. sandbar cook

    sandbar cook

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    I don't agree with all the fuss about tattoos...they have no bearing on whether an individual can cook or not...keep them covered or not,so many people have tattoos now that I'm sure most customers woulddn't notice them anyway
     
  10. petemccracken

    petemccracken

    Messages:
    3,401
    Likes Received:
    159
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Of course tattoos do not necessarily affect cooking skills, or management in fact. The question is irrelevant!

    The real question is more along the lines of something like: do visible tattoos adversely affect the gross income or increase expenses, thus reducing the potential or actual bottom line?

    If the people paying for the product have no problem with visible tattoos, there is no problem.

    If a significant portion of the people paying for the product have a problem to the extent they will not patronize the establishment, then there is a real problem.

    In my area, the latter is the case. Whether I accept tattoos or not is not the  problem, it is how they affect my gross income, which directly affects my ability to pay for the tattoo wearer.
     
     
    scott livesey likes this.
  11. chefedb

    chefedb

    Messages:
    5,516
    Likes Received:
    176
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    I new a cook who walked around with a Boa Constricter around his neck (not at work) He did this to command attention and to show his individuality . My feeling with piercings and tatoos run along those lines.

    However if you are confined to the kitchen, they dont fall off into the food and thats ok. Some of the patrons however may not like them, but as long as you don't directly deal with them nothing wrong with them. Some of my best cooks had both.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2011
  12. foodpump

    foodpump

    Messages:
    4,957
    Likes Received:
    512
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    Personally, I won't hire anyone with visible tattoos.  What's under regular work clothing is not my business, so I don't really care.

    It's been my observation that tattoos have only function:

    To attract attention.

    Why someoe wants to atract attention to thier neck,,fore-arms, etc. is a red flag for me.
     
  13. sandbar cook

    sandbar cook

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    I am going to put this out there so we all don't start going overboard here..I have my tattoos placed so they ARE NOT visible under my chef coat,and I think that it would be a reasonable solution for any one who want's to work in fine dining...don't stop getting tattoos,just keep them covered when in public view.

    BTW I have been following this forum for awhile before I decided to join and I would like to give a shout out to all my brothers and sisters in the food service industry....keep on rockin' it you guys, Chefs/Cooks rule!!!
     
  14. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,318
    Likes Received:
    891
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Tattoos are much more acceptable today than they were 25-30 years, but there is still a stigma attached to them.  It is less so in the restaurant world than in the "business" world.  That being said it will be much more difficult for you to move up into management with visible tattoos and piercings.  It isn't the case with all places, both corporate and independent, but you will still come across people, in positions of power, that do have preconcieved ideas about tattoos. And yes, it might close some doors to you.  Not saying that it is right or not, but just stating the reality.  Luckily, in this business it doesn't shut nearly as many doors as in other professions.  Let's face it, there are a number of high profile chefs sporting full sleeves.  When is the last time you saw a high priced lawyer or CEO sporting sleeves?  This industry is much more open, in general, but of course that doesn't mean everyone is.

    I've got plenty of tattoos, but I'm glad I didn't get any that are visble when wearing short sleeve shirts.  I was in the restaurant world for many, many years and could have gotten away with visible tattoos.  But I burnt out after so long and now I am a foodservice director for a jail.  Not a glamorous job, but at I make a great salary, work managable hours (45 as opposed to the 70-80 in restaurants), get to see my daughter most nights and weekends and have a much lower stress level.  I would have never gotten that job if I had had visible tattoos.  Even if my company let me slip by, I'm sure the jail administrator would have given the thumbs down.  The point is, if you cover yourself in tattoos you might end up limiting your options down the road.  Sure you may have all intents of staying in the restaurant world for the rest of your life (I sure did) but what if you burn out?  I doubt most culinary schools are hiring chefs covered in body art to teach their classes.

    As said before, above.  It's your decision about how to express yourself, unfortunately there can be consequences to some forms of self expression.  You have to be prepared to deal with those consequences and figure out how to deal with them or get around them.
     
    cronker likes this.
  15. sandbar cook

    sandbar cook

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    And that's the thing...people's notions,and you are right about some high profile chefs,look at Grahame Elliot,who has 3 michelin stars has lots of visible tats...and I am positive that his customers could care less.But you and I agree on one thing that covering yourself with tattoos could possibly slam shut some doors,so if an aspiring chef is planning on getting full sleeves they will have to face the facts that it will take away some options for them.
     
  16. Iceman

    Iceman

    Messages:
    2,466
    Likes Received:
    408
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    For all you owners that have claimed you would not hire a chef w/ visible tattoos, I'm curious about your operations. Are your kitchen areas wide open to your customers? Do customers regularly come and go through your kitchens? Are you making so much over-the-top money from having a "chef's table" in the kitchen? Do you continuously parade your chef around the dining room showing off to your customers the chef that prepares their meals? If not, I'm calling "BS" on ideas like these: 

    ~ "Would I hire you? With my current clientele, no. I cannot risk the potential reduction in income."

    ~ "Do my personal objections affect my hiring practices? I'd like to think not."

    ~ "The real question is more along the lines of something like: do visible tattoos adversely affect the gross income or increase expenses, thus reducing the potential or actual bottom line?"

    Now I'm sorry, PeteMc, if I only picked out things that you said. I just don't get your worry. Are your chefs all that continuously visible to your clientele? If so then OK, I could be a lot more understanding. For all the time I've spent in the food industry, I can count on one hand the number of places I've worked where the head cooking chef had and interaction with those eating what was cooked. 

    ~ "D.Rodman never changed his ways and I think he paid greatly for it."

    LOL. Dennis Rodman is a rich retired jock that was just inducted into the NBA HOF. What exactly is he "greatly paying for"

    Kevin Gillespie, Michael and/or Bryan Voltaglio, Michael Symon, 
     
  17. pinkykaz

    pinkykaz

    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    My visible tattoos are in my palm and on the inside of my fingers. My boss and my co workers did not notice for at least a week, and I still have people i work with say "oh I never knew you had that tattoo". I plan on getting full sleeves eventually, but I want a lot of hidden work done before I get to that point (at least 5 years worth of work at the rate I am going). I am just trying to get a feel of what others in the industry see, as I have only seen a small portion.

    Thanks everyone for your opinions. I really appreciate the honesty as opposed to certain people telling me 'it doesn't really make a difference', which I know is a lie.

    -Kyle
     
  18. left4bread

    left4bread

    Messages:
    406
    Likes Received:
    28
    Exp:
    mgmt
    Really, I think this question can be narrowed down to "Where do you live?"

    Seattle,WA?  Our servers will point and laugh at your measly tattoos.  That 2 gauge piercing is "cute", lol.  wussy!

    Hannah, MT?  You're a fool who isn't fit to wash our dishes!

    As it becomes more popular and less of a "OMG you must be from prison!" thing, it won't matter too much in ...mmmm...  20 years.

    It's like how people were so against hula-hoops in the 50's, but then all the kids started doing hula-hoops and now they're EVERYWHERE!

    So, anyhow...  do it.  Or invest your spare income into something profitable.  Now is a good time.

    Or just blow it on asinine crap to impress your friends.  You're rich, right?!

    EDIT: for the record, my tattoo stops at the wrist so I can hide it under a shirt for the interview.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2011
  19. chefedb

    chefedb

    Messages:
    5,516
    Likes Received:
    176
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    Hula hoops, Slinky, Mr. Potato Heads were all big in the 50s thats true  , but you did not wear them and besides now they ae all gone and died out and forgotten. The fad ended.
     
  20. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

    Messages:
    6,367
    Likes Received:
    129
    Exp:
    Food Writer
    I think many of you are missing the point. The issue really has nothing to do with tats and piercings, per se. It has to do with peoples biases.

    One could argue all day and night about the "art" value of tats, and the right to self-expression, and all those high-faluting concepts. And one could honestly say that it doesn't matter if you're not meeting the public. And so forth.

    But the basic fact is, tatoos and body piercings, particularly when they are widespread, appeal to people's biases. Very often they do not realize, themselves, that they are reacting, on a viceral level, to this sort of body art. Indeed, on a conscious level, they might be overlooking it because the only thing that counts is ability. But subconsciously they're saying, "that's disgusting."

    So, arguing pros and cons is actually an exercize in futility. Why? Because we're talking about a reaction that is based on emotion, not on objective facts. Nor does pointing to a handful of top names in the industry who have tats change anything. For each of them who overcame the biases there are a hundred, a thousand, who will never progress further than line-cook. Should we advise people based on the exeptions? Or on the thousands to whom body art is a hinderance?

    It's no accident that most respondents to this and similar threads first argue in favor of body art, and then point out that theirs is coverable. Even these body art proponents are aware of the real-world reaction to it.

    The long and the short of it is simply that visible body art, in terms of career development, is not acceptible if you want to get ahead. That's one of the consequences of your choice.