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Chef Justin Sutherland In Recovery From 4th of July Boat Propeller Accident

Sutherland’s family started a GoFundMe to cover medical costs for the Twin Cities chef, who lacks health insurance

Closeup of chef Justin Sutherland, wearing a “In Diversity We Trust” baseball cap.
Chef Justin Sutherland in his classic cap.
Lucy Hawthorne / Eater Twin Cities
Justine Jones is the editor of Eater Twin Cities.

Over the Fourth of July weekend, chef Justin Sutherland was injured in a boating accident that left him with a broken arm, broken jaw, and lacerations. According to an account of the accident on a GoFundMe page, Sutherland was driving the boat when his hat blew off his head. When he reached to grab it, the boat hit a wave and he was thrown into the water, where he collided with the propeller.

Though Sutherland’s injuries are serious, his outlook for recovery is good: His broken arm retains a strong grip and seems to have no nerve damage, and doctors are optimistic that a series of surgeries will mend his jaw. Plastic surgery, meanwhile, will help heal the lacerations, according to the post on the GoFundMe Page. “The great news is, he is going to be fine,” wrote organizers of the GoFundMe. “With some time, he will possibly be better than fine. He is adding more character to the face we know and love, and the most important news, his beard is intact.”

At a press conference Wednesday, chef Brian Ingram of Hope Breakfast Bar and Purpose Restaurants read a statement from Sutherland’s family detailing his healing process since Monday’s accident — day by day, they say, he has improved.

A bearded man in a black shirt and jeans speaks into a microphone. Behind him is a large group of people listening; behind them are a bus and city buildings.
Chef Brian Ingram spoke Thursday alongside St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, family and friends of Sutherland, and local chefs and industry workers.
Justine Jones

Sutherland, a celebrity chef and Iron Chef America winner, is known locally for his elegant, Southern-style restaurant Handsome Hog, his close involvement with the Twin Cities restaurant community, and his many philanthropic ventures. (This summer was set to be a big one, with Sutherland’s new steakhouse Noyes and Cutler opening in late June and, as the Star Tribune reports, both an egg sandwich shop and rooftop restaurant soon to follow.) But like so many in the restaurant industry, he had no health insurance at the time of the accident. Sutherland’s family set up the GoFundMe page to help cover his medical costs and expenses during the time that he’s unable to work: As of noon Thursday, July 7, more than $150,000 of the $500,000 goal had been met. The family has also pledged that any excess funds will be donated to charity.

“A lot of you may think that because you’ve seen Justin on TV, he was rich. That’s just not the case,” chef Brian Ingram said in an Instagram video shared Tuesday. “Justin was using his platform to help so many along the way. He was giving out so much for all of us, from charity dinners that cost him real money every time he did it. Every charity event he ever did with me, he donated.” When the pandemic hit and Purpose Restaurants began its work to address food insecurity, says Ingram, Justin was the first chef to call and donate everything in his coolers.

Keep an eye on Sutherland’s Instagram page for updates on his healing progress.