Edible Ink: The Porch at Schenley Executive Chef Kevin Hermann
Kevin Hermann’s thoughtful and personal approach to cooking goes hand in hand with the tattoos on his arms and back. Each piece of art started as a “silly sketch” that simmered over time, taking in the flavors of his past and his future in the process.
“I always try to tie a lot of my past into what I do today, but I also know that I can’t let my past hold me back from what I don’t know yet,” says Hermann, the executive chef at The Porch at Schenley. “I have to try to keep pushing myself and keep learning and trying new things. Face the challenges, adapt, and keep moving forward.”
The idea of continued growth without forgetting your roots is reflected on Hermann’s right arm. Inspired by the twisted layers on a Banyan tree and the fluidity of Salvador Dali’s “Melting Clocks,” Kati Zmenkowski of Armature Tattoo Co. in Bloomfield brought the organic sleeve to life.
“I was leery to get tattoos on my arms until I worked with a guy in New York who is covered in tattoos — his head, his neck, all over the place. But every single tattoo he had had meaning. I knew, just from that, that it was OK,” he says. “It was a huge deal [to get the tree sleeve], but it had meaning so I wasn’t afraid to do it. It’s kind of like my food. If it has meaning, I’m not afraid to do it.”
My first tattoo is on my back. I got it my first month of culinary school. It’s like a compass; it more or less symbolizes me and my three siblings. I have gone through a lot of struggles in life, so that was my way of saying my siblings always kept me from going too far in one direction or the other. Family keeps you together when you need it.
I love the olive branch and what it symbolizes — that ‘togetherness’ that goes back to the family aspect, the openness. I wanted the tropical flowers that are exaggerated in sizes and varieties, but I wanted them to be olive blossoms. This [sleeve] is a quarter or a third done, so there’s a lot of work to do.
It’s hard to say which one is my favorite. My favorite part of the olive one is definitely my hand. This is just super pretty — and manly!