Four months after suffering horrific injuries when his car was smashed by a suspected drunken driver, a top Minneapolis chef is back in the kitchen.
Tommy Begnaud was only six weeks into his job leading the team at Coup d'etat in Minneapolis when his car was hit on his way home from work.
The crash left him with a hip that was broken in six different places, as well as four fractured ribs and two fractured lower vertebrae, putting him out of action for months as he undertook a long and arduous recovery.
But the Coup d'etat Facebook page shows that this recovery has gone well, and he was back in the kitchen earlier this week cooking up with a new menu for the French-Louisiana-inspired Uptown restaurant.
"[I'm] 100 percent back in my head, 80 percent physically," the Louisiana native told WCCO, while expressing disappointment at the timing of his injuries by adding: "I had gotten to a position where we were ready to make some sizable changes to include a new spring menu. Immediately everything was put on hold."
He said his 15 weeks of recovery included plenty of bed rest, as well as the use of a wheelchair and a cane. He paid tribute to the rest of the cooks at Coup d'etat, telling the TV station they were "putting in 60 to 70 hour weeks" to make up for his absence.
He was also helped by the wider Twin Cities food community, which clubbed together to hold a fundraising potluck at Travail Kitchen and Amusements in Robbinsdale in May to help pay for his medical bills – a gesture that overwhelmed the chef.
"I can't put into words yet the gratitude and respect I have for everyone that worked, and attended this EPIC party," he wrote on his Facebook page. "I will forever be indebted to each one [of] you, and will be on a mission to repay the love and support you have shown me."
"This has changed my life forever, and has restored my faith in humanity!"
You can take a look at Begnaud's summer menu at Coup d'etat here.