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From the Editor: Tat Tales

Sometimes the things I dread the most in life turn out to be the most pleasant. When Foodservice News increased the Charlie Awards categories from 10 to 14, I worried about the time and success ratio of  tracking down the bios and pics from 39 busy people/concepts. 

 To put it into restaurant terms, it was like having a whole cow walk into your kitchen and having to  break it down into 39 separate, entertaining meals—and, oh yeah, the cow walked in on its own accord. 

Perhaps that’s not a good analogy, because I want all my participants to be live and walking to their seats in the audience, come January 27.

What made this assignment pleasurable was both the excitement on the part of the finalists to be chosen by their peers for this honor and some of the e-mailed conversations I had with them.

For instance, when I saw the picture of Sean Jones, one of the finalists for Outstanding Bartender, I couldn’t not ask about the tattoo on his arm that read: “Don’t die.” While I think in general that’s a good philosophy to live by, I had a feeling there was more to it. 

Me: I gotta ask: What’s the story behind your tattoo? 

Sean: Which one?

Me: Well, let’s start with the “Don’t die” and thick black lines. 

Sean: Ah yes. Well the “don’t die” is part one of a two-parter ... the other arm completes the ‘don’t die wondering’ message. It’s a motto of mine, sort of a ‘carpe diem’ idea but less about conquering the world and more about seeking out the answers to life’s questions.

The bars are an I Ching hexagram, it’s two symbols, the top is water and the bottom is fire. In this configuration, the elements balance each other. In the book of changes this hexagram is called ‘order after completion,’ it’s a similar idea to that of the ying yang.

And he signed off in perfect bartender form: “Cheers!”

Now how enlightening is that!

I may be the only person in the history of foodservice who is obsessed with tattoos, but doesn’t have any. I hate to pull the age card, but when I was growing up only sailors had tattoos (or so we thought).

When my son was 10 and a big fan of heavy metal band Guns and Roses, I told him I’d give him $10,000 if he made it to 27 without a tattoo. He did, but in his 30s he had the logo of the youth group he worked with on mission trips to New Orleans tattooed on his forearm. I thought it was apropos, and it made me feel less guilty about never paying him the $10,000. (My mothering skills were overpromise, underdeliver.)

From that early tattoo bias, I have become a fan because I love a good story and I’ve found that for most people in foodservice, tattoos aren’t just decorative, they’re personal statements. 

When we started the monthly Industry Ink feature (it used to be called Tattoo of the Month, but editor Laura Michaels came up with a much better name in Industry Ink), I used to worry that I would offend someone if I asked them if I could take their picture and write up a short story on their tattoos. But I’ve found that it’s taken as a compliment, which, trust me, it is. I’m into art—whether it’s on a body or in a museum.

I’m always on the lookout for interesting tattoos and stories, so if you have one on yourself (or a coworker does), please email me the contact info.

I don’t just admire tattoos, I also like fashion. And even though every picture I have taken of me is in a denim shirt or jacket, trust me, I have a lot of black and off-white in my wardrobe as well. 

Why I mention this is that another article in this issue is about Kate Meier, who in just under two years has become the apron maker to the star chefs in town. Who knew that an apron could rise to cult status?

While the Charlies profiles took up a whopping four pages, we have lots of coverage that is worth taking a break and reading. But this extra issue is the last time we’ll be able to urge you to get out and support your industry by being in the audience at the Charlie Awards, January 27 at the Pantages Theater. 

So Happy New Year. Here’s to the best year ever. 

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