Edible Ink: ROOT 174 Executive Chef and Owner Keith Fuller
Spanning from the top of his throat down to his fingertips and feet, Keith Fuller’s tattoos serve as a physical scrapbook of his life. Just looking at a few of his favorite works of art, I’ve learned he enjoys video games (see “GAME NERD” spelled out across his knuckles); he hates fast food (see the depiction of Colonel Sanders as the devil, complete with skull-encrusted chicken wings, on his shin); and he loves Star Wars (see the Darth Vader eating a cheeseburger on his stomach and the Darth Vader-Steve Buscemi mashup on his calf).
“I just thought it’d be funny because he says, ‘I want to see you with my own eyes,’” Fuller says of the latter, which became one of 2010’s most viral tattoo photos. (Seriously, google it.) “A lot of my tattoos are kind of funny, but they’re also stuff I like.”
In memory of his dog Jabba, who passed away last year, Fuller got a tattoo of her riding a Tie Fighter on his right arm.
Fusing his favorite things with a quirky twist — like “Gotta catch ‘em all” written in innards next to a zombie Ash and Pikachu to combine his adoration of Pokémon and zombies — his tattoos represent his fun personality and mirror his style in the kitchen. The executive chef and owner of ROOT 174 and co-chef and co-owner of the soon-to-be-opened Pork and Beans is known for combining unique elements to create unforgettable dishes.
As his collection of ink and his culinary repertoire continue to grow, Fuller has witnessed a revolution in the restaurant industry’s tattoo culture — going from the line cook at Jake’s Restaurant in Manayunk, Ohio, who had a guest refuse to return until “that tattooed gentlemen is fired,” to Six Penn Kitchen’s opening sous chef who abolished the “no visible tattoo” policy.
“When I moved to Pittsburgh in 2005, if I stepped out of the city, I would get stared at a lot,” Fuller says. “Now — nothing, which is what I prefer. I honestly forget I’m tattooed.”
As photos of this tattoo circulated online, people everywhere claimed they were in the photo or they were the artist behind it. But it’s always Fuller, showing off the work done by his friend, Doug Scherbac, from High Rollers Tattoo.
A horrible tribal tattoo on the day I turned 18.
Kati [Zmenkowski of Armature Tattoo Co. in Bloomfield] did Cthulhu on my chest. It needs one more session, though.
The Steve Buscemi as Darth Vader. It’s the funniest. My friend did such a killer job putting the mashup together.