Justin Sutherland Arrested, Charged With Felony Threats of Violence

The Twin Cities-based chef and television personality claims innocence, is ’committed to making amends and seeking treatment’

Justin Sutherland, a prominent figure in the Twin Cities’ food scene, was arrested Friday, June 28 in St. Paul and charged Monday, July 1 with one count of felony threats of violence against his girlfriend. The criminal complaint paints a picture of Sutherland with a violent temper.

[Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story was published before Sutherland had commented on the charge. His official statement has since been added at the bottom of the article.]

He is currently out of jail after being charged with threatening his girlfriend with a gun and squeezing her neck. Sutherland is arguably one of the two or three most visible members of Minnesota’s culinary community—he’s the face of countless tourism campaigns, brand relationships, a national Daytime Emmy winner, and the host of “Fast Foodies” on truTV. He appeared in the recent season of “Top Chef: Wisconsin” and has been the focus of Minnesota Monthly stories, radio interviews, and social media videos by me as well.

Justin Sutherland
Justin Sutherland, 2022

Photo by Pierre Ware


What is Sutherland accused of?

All of the following information is from the criminal complaint filed in Ramsey County court:

He’s charged with felony threats of violence. When police arrived around 8 p.m. on June 28, Sutherland’s girlfriend was “standing in the doorway of the bathroom… visibly shaking and crying.”

She said at one point, Sutherland “walked up to her, placed both hands around her neck, and applied pressure while telling her, ‘I want you dead.'” She said they were around her neck for about three seconds and she could breathe during that time.

According to the complaint, she said Sutherland “walked out of the back of the building with a black handgun in his hand and stood in the doorway. [She] reported that Sutherland told her, ‘Don’t come back here or I am going to shoot you.’ As she went back towards the house, [he] stood in the doorway with the gun in his hand. As she approached him, [she] said [he] pointed the gun at her then hit her in the chest with the gun.”

In an interview after Sutherland was arrested, his girlfriend “reported ongoing verbal abuse from [Sutherland], and that he can be violent when angry. [She] said that [he] broke her car windshield two days earlier.”

An hour and a half before this went down, the girlfriend called 911 claiming her boyfriend had choked her and was trying to kick her out of the apartment. She did not provide Sutherland’s name at the time “because she did not want to get anyone in trouble.”

From the Pioneer Press: “Attorney John Daly, who is representing Sutherland, said the complaint is ‘riddled with lies’ and he said Sutherland is ‘looking forward to the truth coming out.’ There was an argument between the couple ‘that didn’t involve physical violence whatsoever,’ he said during Sutherland’s first court appearance Monday morning.”

What is Sutherland involved in?

Sutherland’s main job of late has been endorsements and appearances. He’s done sponsored posts for Ecolab, Tissot Watches, among others. He owns Big E, an egg sandwich shop on Grand Avenue in St. Paul, and is (was?) opening a restaurant with Rondo Land Trust. Rondo has yet to respond to my request for comment.

UPDATE 7/5: Sutherland is out at the Golden Thyme/Rondo project. Rondo Community Land Trust issued the following statement: “Earlier this year Golden Thyme Holdings LLC (“Golden Thyme”), an affiliate of The Rondo Community Land Trust, entered into a letter of intent with J&K Hospitality LLC, a business which is affiliated with Justin Sutherland, to operate a coffee shop at the historic Golden Thyme space. At this time, Golden Thyme does not intend to lease the space to J&K, but will proceed to find a new and appropriate tenant in this historic location that is so valued by the Rondo neighborhood. We will share our vision with our neighbors and the community as new opportunities for the space are identified.

He also had announced two new restaurants in partnership with Matt Monroe’s Restore Restaurant Group (EaTo, Chloe by Vincent) in a Sherman Associates development. I reached out to Monroe and Sherman on Monday and have yet to hear back.

His Southern-inspired restaurant Northern Soul has just one location right now, at MSP Airport, run by Delaware North. I reached out, they said: “Delaware North has been made aware of certain legal proceedings involving Justin Sutherland and is closely monitoring the situation.”

What’s he not involved in?

Handsome Hog. The restaurant was always owned by Madison Restaurant Group. He was the Executive Chef, tried to buy out his partners, but as of January 2024 he has nothing to do with it anymore.

The Gnome. Brian Ingram describes Sutherland as a friend but said he never was an employee and never got a paycheck from Purpose Restaurants. “Justin has never at any time been an employee of Purpose Restaurants nor has he had any investments or holdings in the company,” Ingram says.

UPDATE: Statement from Justin Sutherland

(July 2, 6 p.m.) A statement from Justin Sutherland: “Over the weekend I found myself in a situation where I was taken into custody and accused of a crime. I deeply regret putting myself in that position and the pain and distress caused to those around me. I sincerely apologize to my family, friends, and fans. I am innocent of these charges and look forward to using the judicial system to prove my innocence. Notwithstanding, this incident has made me realize the urgent need to seek professional help and make significant changes in my life. I am committed to making amends and seeking treatment. Once again, I offer my sincerest apologies to everyone affected by my behavior. Thank you for your support and understanding during this difficult time while we wait for the truth to come forward and further prove my innocence.”

A rep for Chef Sutherland added this: “The allegations in the complaint are riddled with falsehoods and it should be noted that the court released him on his own recognizance without requiring bail, as he’s not a danger to the community, or those around him, and he’s not a flight risk. Chef Sutherland never physically harmed anyone around him during the alleged incident and along with Chef’s attorney John Daly, ‘we all look forward to the truth coming out as the court process unfolds.’ In the meantime, he will voluntarily enter a treatment facility to get the professional assistance necessary at this point in time.”