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And as quickly as it arrived, the evening rush is over and the last table has left.

“Everyone’s grumpy and then the night’s over, and it’s like none of it happened,” he said.

“We all really care, and we work really hard. Most of us are so passionate about (cooking) that that passion translates into getting a tattoo.”

As a touring chef, Dave Perry goes on the road with bands, preparing meals for the band members and their crews. Most recently, he was on tour with Paul McCartney.

While he calls Richmond home for now and can be found helping out at places such as Belmont Butchery and Proper Pie Co. when he’s not on tour, he’s heading back to his native South Carolina later this year.

“I got into kitchens because I didn’t want a real job,” said Perry, who began college with the intent of becoming a history teacher and was working in kitchens to pay the bills.

“I was having more fun at work than I was at school.” So he switched gears and went to culinary school instead.

Among his food-related tattoos: the French word for pig - cochon - runs down the back of one arm; the Klondike bar polar bear is a nod to his family’s favorite vacation treat; a chef’s hat with flames; and two animals - a pig on one bicep and a unicorn on the other - each dissected into primal cuts.

(In case you’re wondering, the primal cuts of a unicorn are wishes, giggles, magic, hugs and - the underbelly section - superglue.)

“A lot of chefs are artistic,” Perry said, though not necessarily in the classical sense.

For them, “your plate is your canvas.”

John Maher went with something near and dear to his livelihood: spoons.

Maher, who opened The Rogue Gentlemen in Jackson Ward last month, said that unlike tongs and other kitchen utensils, “spoons are the tool of finesse in the kitchen” for plating and saucing dishes and tasting as you go.

“The kitchen world is very strange,” he said. “It’s all very individualistic, but you’re working as part of a team, part of a machine.

“It’s fast-paced, 18-hour days in front of a stove where it’s 120 degrees. But you live for that adrenaline rush, and (tattoos) just extend it. I get these for how I feel about my career and my craft.”

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