Linden Hills going Swedish

Since Erick Harcey announced Upton 43 (4312 Upton Av. S., Mpls.) last year, the project has gone through several format changes.

“In the end, those ideas didn’t feel authentic to me,” he said.

Instead, diners will experience a distinct Swedish-American accent.

“Everyone is going to turn that into Noma, or Fäviken,” Harcey said with a laugh, a reference to two world-famous, forage-centric Scandinavian restaurants.

“But it won’t be that,” he said. “I want to cook how I feel. This is about my roots, and about being an extension of who I am. I want to cook what I love to eat.”

For Harcey, chef/owner of Victory 44 (2203 N. 44th Av., Mpls., victory-44.com), inspiration comes from his late grandfather, Willard Ramberg, a chef and a “hard-core Swede.”

Along with embracing the region’s passion for smoking, fermenting and pickling (hello, herring), Harcey said he’ll be inserting his chef’s skill set into cherished family recipes, from his grandmother Bonnie Ramberg’s beef and pork meatballs to, yes, lutefisk, prepared his grandfather’s way: steamed, then baked, and served with riced potatoes and white gravy.

“I’ll add crispy rye crumbs and chives, and round it out with a little brown butter,” he said. “It won’t be like eating a bowl of fish Jell-O. It’s more like a good brandade.”

When it opens in mid-October, Upton 43 will initially serve dinner seven nights a week, then offer a daily all-day brunch.

By December, Harcey plans to launch Dirty Bird from the same address, specializing in rotisserie chicken, complementary side dishes and pie — hurrah — in a grab-and-go format that he hopes to replicate elsewhere.

Harcey has also started farming, just outside his hometown of Cambridge, Minn., raising pigs, chickens and a huge array of heirloom vegetables (“You name it, we grow it,” he said) for his restaurants at what he and spouse Sondra have dubbed Four Boy Farms, in honor of their young sons (ages 5 to 9) Jameson, Quinton, Graham and Ashton.

“They’re why I have to keep opening restaurants,” he said. “How else will I be able to afford to buy groceries?”

At the State Fair

This Sunday (Aug. 30) is “Minnesota Cooks Day” at the Minnesota State Fair, in honor of the 13th annual Minnesota Cooks celebration, which brings together chefs, restaurateurs, farmers and consumers for a series of hourlong cooking demonstrations, discussions and — the best part — free samples.

Chefs from a dozen Minnesota restaurants are participating, along with hosts J.D. Fratzke of the Strip Club Meat & Fish and Mary Lahammer of Twin Cities Public Television. The event, which takes place in Carousel Park (just south of the grandstand) is hosted by Minnesota Farmers Union.

The Farmers Union is also the place for what I’ve long considered to be the fair’s best freebie, the annual Minnesota Cooks calendar.

As souvenirs go, it’s gorgeous — thanks to photographer Katie Cannon — and it’s filled with seasonal recipes from some of the state’s top chefs. Pick it up during the fair at the Farmers Union building (Dan Patch Avenue and Cosgrove Street) or at the Minnesota Cooks event.

Dining events

Nightingale (2551 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., nightingalempls.com) chef/co-owner Carrie McCabe-Johnston is celebrating the tomato season with her third annual “An Embarrassment of Tomatoes” dinner on Aug. 31, a five-course meal featuring such dishes as shiso-cured fluke in a grilled tomato consommé, tomato-brined pork loin and grilled tomato pound cake with tomato honey, plus wine pairings. Cost is $75 per person; reservations at 612-354-7060.

Think of Sept. 1 and 2 as Restaurant Swap Days. That’s when the kitchen and bar staffs at HauteDish (119 Washington Av. N., Mpls., haute-dish.com) and Lyn 65 Kitchen & Bar (6439 Lyndale Av. S., Richfield, lyn65.com) are taking over each other’s restaurant.