I still have a half-moon shaped scar (faded, but still visible) on my left hand, between the second and third knuckle, from where I slipped while trying to chip away the ice from a block of frozen prawns that my prep cook forgot to defrost and put an 8-inch chef's knife through my hand.
On the same hand, the tip of my ring finger is blunted just slightly from a missing piece--given up to a rush-job of chopping shallots in the middle of a killer service. Thinking I was a tough guy, I tried to disinfect it by dunking the offended digit in high-proof cooking vodka and blacked out from the sudden explosion of pain.
When I get a tan (which, I grant you, is rare these days), there are still pale grill scars on the insides of my forearms. The black spot on my left wrist is from being stabbed with a pencil, the lead still in there somewhere. Two fingers on my right hand still ache now and then from being broken more than once.
Chefs collect scars the way spinster aunts collect kitties and writers collect credit card debt. They exist as memories cut into the flesh, reminders of lessons learned or bad nights or momentary lapses in concentration. And on Sunday, the New York Times did a very cool job of collecting and cataloging some of the scars of the famous for an Op-Art feature called "Choice Cuts."Paula Deen, for example, has a recent half-inch burn on her right forearm gotten from baking cookies (natch). Michael Laiskonis from Le Bernardin is missing the tip of his left thumb, explaining, "I was in one of my line-cook phases in the mid-'90s. I don't remember exactly why I was in such a rush, but I do vividly remember trying to bust through a very large pile of onions. You know how novice cooks are taught to tuck the thumb back and under while chopping? I cheated, and then I looked up, or the heavy chef's knife slipped..."
Marcus Samuelsson is in there (dime-sized scar, forehead) and so is Anita Lo (a V carved into her pinkie). Hugh Acheson is missing the tip of his left index finger. Tim Love has a burn forever marking his palm.
These are just a few of the wounds collected in this piece (which comes complete with diagrams and descriptions), so if you want to check out the whole thing, just click on through to the full story in the Times, or feel free to tell the tales of your best kitchen-related injuries in the comments section below.