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The Daily Dish Top Chef

Top Chef Alum Justin Sutherland Shares a Major Recovery Update After Boating Accident

The Season 16 contestant was seriously injured and has undergone several surgeries in the months since the tragic accident.

By Allison Crist

Last July, Bravo’s Top Chef alum Justin Sutherland was boating with friends when he accidentally fell into the water near a propeller. He sustained several injures — including a broken arm and jaw, bone fractures, and shattered teeth — and has spent the past eight months attempting to recover both mentally and physically.

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Thankfully, as Justin recently told People, most of the major surgeries he needed are already behind him. Among them were multiple arm surgeries, “a full dental reconstructive surgery,” and surgery to repair his jaw. Since his nose was also “completely destroyed,” Justin said that doctors “rebuilt it fully.”

More procedures are sure to come, but he added that those will mostly be for “comfort or cosmetic” purposes. 

Otherwise, the Season 16 cheftestant is ready to get back to living his life to the fullest. In the months since the accident, he has resumed his intense workout regimen, released a cookbook titled Northern Soul, appeared on a Food Network show, and gotten a puppy. Now, he’s even ready to “get back on the boat.”

“I’ll definitely be back on the water on July 3rd on that anniversary day, and hopefully much sooner as soon as this winter stops,” Justin said. “I’m excited to get back on the water. I’m excited to just continue living and loving life.”

That said, “I’m not afraid to remember it,” Justin noted. “People are always asking, ‘Is it OK to talk about this? Can we ask questions?’ For me, talking through it… has been very therapeutic for me. It’s something that I want to put behind me as far as the incident, but the silver linings and some of the positive outcomes and lessons that I’ve learned and things I’ve learned about myself and things that I’ve learned about other people is something that I don’t want to forget.”

To help him remember the life-altering event, Justin even got a tattoo of the propeller from the boat. Because while it’s “been a roller coaster both physically and mentally, the more I learned about the accident and the extent of the injuries and just all around it, the more blessed and grateful I feel,” Justin said.

He added that he’s particularly thankful for the friends, family members, and “complete strangers” who contributed to his GoFundMe page for his recovery and medical bills. “It’s meant the world,” he told People. “Complete strangers from all around the country and world, and people who I’ve never met still check in on me every single week and it’s been pretty powerful, unexpected. I’m still speechless when I really think about how much people came together to help me.”

Watch Top Chef on Bravo Thursdays at 9/8c and the next day on Peacock. Catch up on the Bravo app.

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