CHISHOLM — In the wake of the resignation of its executive chef, the Rustic Pig restaurant at Minnesota Discovery Center plans to close until a new chef is in place.
News of the closure, effective Oct. 27, came on Thursday — just days after invitations were sent out for a VIP event for a one-year anniversary celebration planned for next month that has since been canceled.
MDC Executive Director Donna Johnson in an interview on Thursday said center plans to hire another chef to replace Quaid Fetkenheuer, the Rustic Pig’s executive chef, and that the restaurant will be closed during the transition.
The closure is exclusive to the restaurant, and does not affect any food service or venue rentals, Johnson assured.
While there’s no definitive timeline to reopen the restaurant, MDC has a goal of doing so by the spring of 2020.
“We will be hiring a new chef and it depends on the timeline of this process,” she said.
Fetkenheuer took to social media on Thursday, saying it’s been his “distinct privilege” to serve MDC in the role of executive chef, while revealing he plans to pursue a different career path to allow him more time to spend with his family. Fetkenheuer said he doesn’t intend for the Rustic Pig to be taken away from MDC in his departure, but more to bring new opportunity and creativity to the space.
“I never wanted the Rustic Pig to be viewed as just a restaurant but more as a space for creativity, enjoying good company with friends and family, and learning,” he wrote.
The Rustic Pig opened in November of 2018 and soon became known for its unique variety of featured entrees, signature cocktails, appetizers and desserts. Its menu also offered vegetarian and gluten free items. Some of the dishes served up there include smoked duck, swordfish, beef wellington, and sesame ahi tuna, to name a few.
Live music performed there on Friday nights also proved to be popular with diners there.
In an interview with the Hibbing Daily Tribune this past May, Johnson told how Fetkenheuer’s creative culinary talent made the Rustic Pig a destination restaurant.
Mara Brownlee, MDC Events Coordinator also chimed in, saying, “As soon as the dinners are served, the phones are coming out and people are taking pictures of their plates.” She added, “And the reaction is like ‘Ohmygosh, this is on the Range?’”
The Rustic Pig hours are from 4 to 9 p.m. on Fridays and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays through Oct. 27.