Tattooed Chef Joey is an amazing talent, check out his knivesandneedlesblog cool interview and mouth-watering recipe!!
Molly: Tell me some of your background, please include what you are doing now or where you are cooking at the moment.
Joey: My name is Joey Keller. I’m 25yrs. old. I’m a father of a 3yr old.(turns 3 in July). I have an amazing fiance. My passion to be a chef spawned from several things in my life. First and foremost my Nan and Grandma (grandma’s on both sides of my family), were amazing home cooks. I couldn’t believe how they could create these delicious foods with what seemed next to nothing in choice of ingredients. I wanted to create delicious food like they both did I grew up around Amish/Mennonite style food being raised in Lancaster, Pa as well. My family is in the direct line of decent of Mennonite tradition even though I wasn’t raised on a farm or necessarily that way….at all. Living in and around Lancaster, Pa. you learn that homemade food is the ONLY choice for eating. From shoofly pies, to chicken pot pie, whoopie pie’s, etc. everything Amish is made completely fresh and from scratch. My last and just as important spawning of my passion for cooking was none other than Gordon Ramsay. I know that is a bit cliche to say as he may be a huge star on TV. I like how he works, he is blunt and to the point. He has such a great passion for food that he will fight to the death for the freshness and love of it, and will not change those standards for anyone. That is true passion in my eyes.
Right now I’ve recently obtained a new position as a chef at The Federal Taphouse. The Lancaster location opens up in July, until then I’m working at the original location in Harrisburg. Everything there is 100% homemade, never frozen and completely fresh. The culinary team at The Federal Taphouse is nothing but extraordinary, and I realized this from day one and that is a team I want to be a part of.
M: What is your favorite tattoo?
J: My favorite tattoo is my Michael Myers tattoo on the top of my forearm. I love horror movies and ever since I was a child he was the only character to ever truly scare the life out of me, and I loved that.
M: What was your first tattoo?
J: Being 15 and having a father who let me get a tattoo, I had gotten a tattoo of brass knuckles on my right calf of my leg that says “717” and “PAHC(Pennsylvania Hardcore)” within the knuckles. I wouldn’t of gotten it today however I don’t regret having it now and laugh about it sometimes. Fun memories of being young and dumb.
M: Do you ever go to tattoo conventions? If so, which ones have you been to?
J: No, I would love to though. I never have the time(being a chef limits a lot of your time). I like to spend my spare time with my family. I know if I ever go to one, I will be taking a lot of money because I can’t go to one and NOT get tattooed.
M: Has having tattoos ever stopped you from getting work?
J: I believe that there has been opportunities I easily believe I would have obtained if not having tattoos. For instance, I got interviewed for a local country club around my area in which I was told that I was completely qualified for(this being before they actually met me in person) and during the interview I like the guy whom was interviewing me was going to burn off my tattoos with his eyes. He literally wouldn’t stop starring at them, even as he was talking. I basically knew walking out from the interview that I hadn’t gotten the job….and to be honest I was ok with that. If someone can’t see me for my skills and qualifications and true passions, then they don’t deserve something like me in the kitchen.
I understand that places want to give off this “professionalism appearance” to their customers, however not only am I in a kitchen where nobody but staff can see the chefs, but if they would’ve let me prove myself…. my food would’ve out shined my tattoos which doesn’t affect my work in any form anyway.
M: Favorite artist?
J: Musically?… Slayer. I love this band so much. Great musicians, and their singer is an all around amazing writer.
M: Artist you admire in the tattoo industry?
J: Artist in the tattoo industry that I like a lot would have to be Paul Booth. He tattoos Kerry King from Slayer and is a very famous tattoo artist. Hopefully someday I can get some work done by him.
M: Do you think there is a connection/similarity between tattooers and chefs? OR rather is there a reason why so many chefs are heavily tattooed?
J: I think there is a similarity between ALL artists which to me includes chefs. When I say chefs, I mean people with passion… not someone who just cooks for a paycheck. The similarity is simply the creativity. Someone can go to any artist and tell them the idea they want, and the artist(chef,tattooer,etc.) takes that information and inserts their creativity and gives them an end result that is even better than what was asked for originally.
I think chefs are heavily tattooed because not only are tattoos becoming more acceptable in society and the workplace as a whole, but chefs have always been given a more lenient discretion on their body art choices in most cases. I think this varies obviously pending on place to place. Chefs are also behind the scenes of the restaurant so that could be a reason as well it is tolerated more in the industry. Tattoos shouldn’t matter in the aspect of working as a chef. They don’t interfere with a chefs skills or anything really, I just think the focus of the food is what should matter.
The question of why chefs seem to have more tattoos than other professions? I couldn’t answer that to be honest.
M: What will be your next tattoo?
J: I have no clue, I have many ideas but I don’t know which one will be next. Possibly my ‘The Lost Boys’ tattoo of character David.
M: Any tattoo regrets?
J: I don’t regret anything I do in my life. Lessons lived are a lesson learned. One tattoo of mine as I stated above is a bit funny, but I still love it.
Joey was generous enough to share one of his signature dishes… And don’t just check it out, try it out!
Delectable Pork Chops Over Curried Lentils With A Classic Mushroom Sauce
2 Pork Chops (trimmed of fat)
2 Cups of Beef Stock
1 cup Lentils (washed)
1 Large Onion (small diced)
4 Carrots (Batonnet cut / shown in picture)
1 Green Pepper (small diced)
1doz. White Mushrooms (6 quartered, 6 small diced)
1/2 Tomato (small diced)
Honey & Water mix (3tbsp water, 3tbsp Honey)
S/P to taste
1tbsp. curry powder
2 cups of Water
1 Lemon, 1tbsp. lemon juice
¼ cup Sherry Cooking Wine
Preparing The Pork Chop and Mushroom Pan Sauce
- Check pork chops for any extra unnecessary fat to trim off. Discard trimmed fat.
- Season both sides generously with S/P (salt and pepper).
- Let sit and rest, for 5-10minutes if pulled right from refrigerator.
- Heat 2tbps. Olive oil in pan, wait for pan to start to smoke.
- When you see the pan smoking, add your pork chops. Flatten them to evenly get a nice sear. After 2-4minutes pending on the size of the pork chops flip them over. [This will be the only time you flip the pork chops].
- Once pork chops are about 145degrees (about medium firmness) take the chops out of the pan and let rest.
- Add ½ diced onion, ½ diced green peppers, and your quartered mushrooms to the same pan used to cook the meat. Sauté veggies down, then discard the veggies, leaving their juices with rest of pan bits and juices. (Tip: I then puree the veggies and add back into juices, but this will not get you your smooth looking pan sauce, just a better tasting sauce).
- Deglaze the bits and juice left in the pan with sherry cooking wine. Let that simmer and reduce to about half.
- Add Beef Stock, and let that simmer until reduced about half as well.
- Add butter for shine.
Preparing the Lentils
- Bring 2cups of water to a boil, add lentils then reduce to a simmer. Add pepper. (Tip: Do NOT add salt, as salt will slow the lentils cooking process).
- In a separate small pan sauté rest of the diced onion, rest of the diced green peppers, small diced mushrooms (not quartered ones), and your tomatoes in oil.
- Once Lentils are just about falling apart but still in shape, drain and add to sautéed mixture (#2).
- Add S/P, curry powder, lemon juice. Toss, and cook for 30 seconds, then take out of the pan and set aside for plating.
Preparing the Carrots
- Heat 2tbsp. butter in pan to medium high.
- Add carrots and let them start to break down. Look for caramelizing, and them getting softer. Keep them moving so they do not burn.
- Once caramelized (takes about 4minutes), add Honey Mixture and toss to glaze carrots. Cook for one minute.
- Set aside for plating
- Optional: If you want to add a bit more sweetness, you can add 1tbsp. water, add 1tbsp. brown sugar into the Honey Mixture.
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Cheers and enjoy!!