Food Ink: Big Game's Leo Harvey is all about seasoning to taste

As part of an upcoming photo essay project spotlighting Denver restaurant pros whose tatts are as prevalent as their dissections, burns, blisters, knife slashes and stabs, we promised that we'd post some of the best ink on the Cafe Society blog.

Leo Harvey, the executive chef of Big Game Restaurant and Lounge, 1631 Wazee Street, is on his way, right now, to get a second tattoo etched into his fingers. That one will read "mise en place," he says, to go along with the "season to taste" tattoo he already has inked on his right forefinger, middle finger and ring finger. Harvey, who gets his body art done at Celebrity tattoo, says that his "taste" tatt represents the fundamental basics of cooking. "You entrust that the person who's making your food is going to season it properly, which goes back to the basics of cooking," says Harvey. And while cooking, he explains, "comes from the heart and soul, all of that is ultimately transferred to your hands, which are responsible for plating and seasoning."

In previous weeks, we've exposed the tatts of Jon Emanuel, the executive chef of Project Angel Heart, , the ink of Matt Selby, executive chef of Steuben's and Vesta Dipping Grill, Brandon Biedermann, chef de cuisine of Steuben's and Chad Clevenger, chef/owner of Mel's Bar & Grill, who described his tattoo as "a blue-footed Bresse chicken that's very fatty and tasty."

We also featured the bacon and eggs Mexican sugar skull that belongs to Erik Perez, who works as a bartender/server at Mezcal and a cook/server/bartender at Krameria Cafe. "I've worked in diners my whole life, cooking a lot of bacon and eggs, so this just made sense to me," explained Perez, who got inked earlier this year by Adrian Hernandez at Tin Man Tattoo.

Chase Wilbanks, chef de cuisine from La Tour in Vail, flashed a brilliant red tattoo of a crab, complete with a lemon, fork and plate. "I was sort of going for a seafood, ocean theme, but the tattoo was just freehand and random," says Wilbanks.

Liz Thomas, manager of Watercourse Foods, flaunted a food tat on her enviably taut belly. "It's a bulb of garlic, eggplant, carrots, tomato, a mushroom and a cupcake in the middle," says Thomas. "Basically, it's all my favorite vegetables -- the ones I couldn't live without -- and then a cupcake for my livelihood. I make dozen and dozens of cupcakes a day, and they're all vegan. I had to pay some respect!"

Proving that body art doesn't have to be complicated or the hue of Popsicles, Patrick Horvat, a former cook at Marczyk Fine Foods, and the new sous chef of Venue, chose a famous quote from French chef Auguste Escoffier, inked on his wrist, to profess his love for food and cooking. "It reminds me of how much time working in this industry takes and that good food can also be beautifully simple," explained Horvat.

We also pimped the pig ink of David Bumgardner, sous chef of Highland Tavern."They represent my love of all things swine, and are a reminder of good times learning from the Marczyks and of my lifetime goal of someday having a pork-centric place of my own," he told us.

If you're a restaurant/market employee with awesome food ink, send photos of your art (and the stories behind them) to cafe@westword.com.

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