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Secrets of the chefs: Will Johnson, Filini

Johnson tattoo Johnson tattoo 2
Chef Will Johnson

Chef Will Johnson

Chef Will Johnson of Filini Restaurant & Bar in the Loop has given his right arm to cuisine — literally.

The Brooklyn-born chef, who came to Chicago just two years ago, has tattoos of vegetables, a chicken, a cow, a pig and other food emblems along that arm, something you may not see if you spot him in his chef whites.

Johnson’s porcine and bovine skin images are modeled after illustrations in the North American Meat Processors Association Meat Buyers Guide.

Less secret are Johnson’s culinary chops. He got his start in high school via the Careers through Culinary Arts Program a national effort to prepare to underserved public high-school students
for college and career opportunities in the restaurant and hospitality industry.

The program worked, sending the budding chef on to culinary school at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, R.I. Afterward, he went back to New York to work with chefs Michael White and Fabio Trabocchiat at Fiamma Osteria, Vento Trattoria and Alto Restaurant. Next, on to Boston as chef de cuisine at Barbara Lynch’s Sportello before he brought his knife roll and knife tattoos to the Windy City.

Is it life imitating art or vice versa?