Local chef Erick Harcey of Victory 44 is transforming an old building in Linden Hills into a culinary heritage project. Upton 43 emphasizes the chef’s Swedish roots — simplicity, good food and family.
“[It’s a] true reflection of who I am,” Harcey said.
Educated at Le Cordon Bleu in Minneapolis, Harcey began his training in the pastry world but soon became interested in savory flavors and wanted to broaden his skill set.
After completing his education, he acquired varied experience and currently heads Victory 44 in North Minneapolis, which flaunts a fresh, seasonal menu and the “Perfect Burger.”
Upton 43 intends to get down to the thread of what Harcey loves to do. He is involved with everything related to the project. The food comes first, but Harcey said a dining experience is more than the food.
“The hope is that when a diner leaves, they can’t pick out what they love the most. … It’s just extremely balanced,” Harcey said.
In person, Harcey is unassuming. In reference to a photograph request, Harcey’s publicist, Josef Harris, replied in an email, “I know chef hates having his picture taken, ha!”
Harcey doesn’t care to fit the clichÃ©d rock-star-chef mold; instead he focuses on appreciating what he has, including a wife and four kids at home.
“I don’t look for the next thing because I have to focus on what I have, but I like to stay prepared so I’m ready when the next thing comes,” Harcey said.
When the opportunity to open Upton 43 arose, Harcey took it. Though he was at a point in life where he wanted to slow down, the location was too good to pass up.
“As much as I have a creative mind, I think I have a pretty good business mind, too,” he said.
As for the physical space, the chef wants to preserve the feel of the old hardware building in Linden Hills.
Upton 43 will not be a second installment of Victory 44. Instead, Harcey wants the new atmosphere to be quieter and more natural, different from the frequent bustle of Victory
44. Upton 43 will be a melding of down-to-earth dining and modern elegance, further reflecting the chef.
Once established, Upton 43 will add a “grab-n-go” rotisserie titled Dirty Bird. The rotisserie is coming later, but it is still an ambitious project.
“I hope I can open a bunch of those,” Harcey said.
A self-proclaimed “country boy,” he said he wants to bring quick chicken and veggies to the neighborhood but ensures that speed doesn’t entail sacrificing quality.
Striving for the restaurant ideal, Harcey understands that it takes experience.
“The hope is by the time you’ve opened your hundredth restaurant you’ve got it right,” Harcey laughed.
With a menu in the works, Harcey said, “I’ve probably gone through 40 iterations already.”
But through his success, Harcey stays humble.
“I just want to respect how hard other people work to spend their money on my food,” Harcey said.
Despite his busy days Harcey saves time for the outdoors, where he draws inspiration. “I’m a Minnesota boy,” he said, “I love fishing; it’s quiet. You start to see more.”