Some people shy away from controversy. Chef Derek Simcik gravitates towards it.
“I’ve always loved controversy because it gets conversation going,” says the executive chef at Thompson Seattle hotel restaurant, Scout PNW. His long-standing appreciation for the taboo sparked Simcik to create INKed, a one-night-only collaborative dinner on March 7 that combines his love of food and tattoos—both subjects that can easily spark a debate.
The chef, like many chefs, is an art collector of sorts—he’s covered in tattoos “from my lip to my feet,” he says. He’s collected pieces from his journeys around the world and gathered tattoo artist friends along the way, many of which in turn would come support him at the restaurants where he’s cooked in Chicago, D.C. and Seattle.
INKed is a celebration of how these two industries intersect, but also a nod to an artist’s evolution, Simcik says. Participating guests will be first tattooed upstairs by visiting artists that the chef has a close relationship with, in a pop-up tattoo shop at the hotel. They’ll then move downstairs to the restaurant for a tasting menu that’s both whimsical and a little tongue-in-cheek (i.e. a course referencing all the weed artists smoke to get past writers block).
But perhaps the coolest part of this whole experiment is that Simcik will be serving meat that’s actually been tattooed with squid ink—an idea he got after hearing a tattoo apprentice friend talking about practicing on baby pig. Pig skin is the closest to human skin; by tattooing pork first and then cooking it sous vide, Simcik has been able to preserve the look of the tattoo while still serving a tender piece of meat. The result is only mildly disconcerting—definitely something that lends itself to conversation.
The event only has room for 20 participants. Tickets can be purchased here, and $20 from each goes toward Adopt the Arts. If you can’t deal with the commitment of a tattoo, you can still join for the dinner alone (at a discounted rate)—but what better way to remember a great meal than with a permanent reminder? “I just want people leaving this talking,” Simcik says. I don’t think that’ll be an issue.