Chef Justin Sutherland on his recovery: 'I still haven't eaten solid food in 9 weeks'

Prominent Twin Cities chef Justin Sutherland joined The Jason Show on FOX 9 on Tuesday, where he discussed his recovery after a boating accident over the summer and his new book, "Northern Soul."

Sutherland was boating with friends on the St. Croix River on July 3 when his hat blew off, causing him to reach for it. At the same moment, the boat hit a wave, sending him into the water near the propeller, which "did a number on his head and left arm," according to a GoFundMe post

"All things considered, I'm doing pretty good. Best case scenario on most things but there's still a long road to go on a lot of stuff," Sutherland told host Jason Matheson. 

Here's a snippet of Sutherland's interview. You can watch his full appearance on The Jason Show in the player above.

Jason: What do you remember about that day?

Sutherland: I mean, honestly, I remember everything. It was a beautiful, perfect, you know, day. I remember everything from hitting the water, to getting slammed back to the boat, and to getting to the ambulance. The EMTs and the doctors said I was fully conscious all the way up until they put me out for surgery. I don't remember anything from the ambulance to when I woke up after, and I don't remember feeling anything but they said I was chatty and awake the whole time. … They said I kept demanding my cell phone.

Jason: I know this seems very simple, but you don't remember any of the pain? 

Sutherland: No. Not a single piece. 

Jason: What was that moment like, mentally, for you when you had to look at what had happened for the first time?

Sutherland: It was wild. You know something happened. You're still drugged up and kind of out of it. The first time when they showed me those pictures, I was like ‘Geez this was serious.’ No wonder everybody that saw me had that reaction.

Jason: What was recovery like?

Sutherland: We're still pretty deep in it. I've probably got a year of physical therapy on my arm until I can get any use there. I'm at about 80% vision in my left eye back – it's slowly creeping back. 

Jason: Do they think it'll (his vision) come back fully? 

Sutherland: They do. There's still a lot of swelling behind there that's putting pressure. They think that's what it is. But until the swelling really comes down, they won't know. 

Jason: You look fantastic!

Sutherland: Regions was amazing … I still haven't eaten solid food in nine weeks now. I have five metal plates in my face. And this is all brand new (pointing to his face), I can't put any pressure on my teeth. I've lost about 14 pounds, trying to drink protein shakes.

Jason: Let's talk about the positive … the positive is the support. Wow. … What did that feel like?

Sutherland: Incredible. … Nothing but just gratitude. We touch a lot of people in our lives … but sometimes you don't realize the people you cross paths with and the lives that you impacted. The people that came together – still, eternally grateful. 

Sutherland's new book ‘Northern Soul’ 

Sutherland has a new book, which launched on Tuesday, called "Northern Soul."

The book is about southern-inspired home cooking from a northern kitchen – it's both a cookbook and a book of stories. The book features the chef's versions of classic southern food, including a lot of stuff they do at his restaurant Handsome Hog in St. Paul. The book shares a name with Sutherland's new restaurant, Northern Soul, which recently opened in Minneapolis on the rooftop of Ties Lounge & Rooftop.

He worked on the book for more than two years, with publishers approaching him about it before the COVID-19 pandemic started. 

In addition to the book, Sutherland has launched a national sandwich shop called Big E. The first location opened in Portland, and two Minneapolis locations are in the works. More locations outside of Minnesota are also planned, Sutherland said.