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Jesse Sandlin shows a little (buttery) leg

I caught up with former Top Chef competitor Jesse Sandlin recently and asked about -- you guessed it -- her butter tattoo.

"I did it because I love butter," she said. "And I also have a meat tattoo on my leg, on the opposite side of the butter one. ... It's sort of my homage to my favorite ingredients."

Sandlin got the butter tattoo two weeks ago from a friend, Grady Spades, who has a by-appointment-only studio in Locust Point. It shows a stick of butter with the wrapper partially peeled back and a banner that reads: "Buttah!"

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Sandlin already had several tattoos.

"I have a chicken and pig on the tops of my feet," she said. "There's an old story that goes, when sailors would sail away back in very olden times, they would store all the livestock in the boat in wooden crates. If they ever shipwrecked, they would try to grab onto an animal crate. Then you would not only have been saved, but have food to sustain you."

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Sandlin hasn't been stranded on any desert islands, but she hoped a chicken and pig would buoy her spirits after she was voted off a reality TV island.

"I got them [the chicken and pig tattoos] after being kicked off 'Top Chef,'" she said. "I felt like I was drowning."

I asked Sandlin what it is about chefs and tattoos these days. It must be more than their power to sustain reality show refugees. "Top Chef" Michael Voltaggio was covered in them.

"It's sort of more acceptable to have tattoos, as opposed to when it was taboo years ago and only bikers and outlaws kind of had tattoos," she said.

Besides, who knows what chefs looks like, unless they're on TV?

"We wear long sleeves and generally we're out of the public eye," she said. "It's more, 'I don't really have to necessarily impresses anyone with the way I look.'"

Photo courtesy of Jesse Sandlin

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