“I have 26 tattoos. I was 18 years old when I got my first one, and then within the first four years of the first one, I got 19.

“My favorite is either the heart ribbon on my neck. It’s simple and it was my second tattoo. That or the two-foot long tiger on my thigh, because it’s so intricate and there’s a lot of detail.



“Every one of them has a back story. The puzzle pieces on my left arm are regarding my work with autism. There’s a double meaning. I used to do a lot of work with autistic children. It got to a point where I realized a lot of these kids are smarter than the average human being. They’re like Yogi bear. But if there were more funds and resources available for autism, some of these kids could one day cure cancer, could find the cure for aids, could be the ones who generate world peace. But there’s just a roadblock from them communicating it. I didn’t get the rainbow coloring that most autistic [symbols] have, because I also believe that every person is just a continuously working puzzle. There’s always a piece missing. We’re always changing and evolving as humans.

“The tattoo on my right wrist says, ‘Faith.’ It’s just a constant reminder to myself to always have faith in everything I do, in people. I have a tendency to just get angry and irritated. [Laughs] At other people. At myself. At situations. Everything. It’s a good reminder [to] just relax and have a little faith in something.


“Then ‘Harmony’ on my right arm is another of my favorite pieces. It’s just another reminder to myself that there is harmony everywhere. You need balance in everything from food to life. So I need to keep myself balanced.

“And then the tiger on my right thigh is an homage to my mom, who I love to death. In traditional Korean culture, people give a pregnant Korean woman a picture of a tiger as a guardian for the baby. It’s a huge symbol of female strength and power as well as her gracefulness and being delicate and strong at the same time. That’s a big one for me, since I work in a kitchen dominated by men and every day is a struggle.”


Anastacia Song is the Chef de Cuisine at Porta in Jersey City, and can be seen on a “late night eats” episode of Chopped

Interview and photos by Kara Chin

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