The cultlike worship of celebrity chefs — or even the regular kind of chef — has led to an unusual side effect: a fascination with their skin art, as if these kitchen demigods tell their personal stories best through their ink. (Which, come to think of it, they often do.)
Well, one of the more memorable tattoo stories among toques involves Mike Isabella’s pizza cutter brass knuckles, which he had printed onto his forearm to commemorate the opening of Graffiato last year. Isabella based his thuggish tat on the motorcycle-themed pizza cutters designed by Frankie Flood, a clear master of metalsmithing.
The idea was that Flood would then create an actual pizza cutter, based on Isabella’s ink.
“I took a picture of this, and he was like, ‘I love it!’” Isabella remembers. “I was like, ‘Could you make this for me?’ ”
“He’s been making it for eight months now,” the chef says. “What am I going to say to the guy?”
It could be that Isabella is part of the problem himself. The chef’s “Top Chef” Top 10, which appeared in Food & Wine magazine, included a reference to Frankie Flood’s pizza cutters. Isabella says it has led to a flood of requests at Flood’s site — so many apparently that it was recently knocked offline.
“I got an e-mail from him the other day. He’s like, ‘I’m a couple of weeks away,’ ” Isabella says. “I’m like, ‘I thought it only took you a couple weeks.’ ”
“I’ll get it eventually.”
In the meantime, Isabella has another tat working: It’s based on the ancient tribal warriors of Hawaii, considered among the fiercest in history. Isabella learned about the warriors during a delayed honeymoon to the islands last fall. Here’s the ink, found on his left calf.