Charlie Trotter, who died this week at age 54, was one of America's best and most important chefs. A self-trained master, he single handedly inspired and trained dozens of culinary professionals. From his kitchen, these chefs, sommeliers and others have gone on to found and run some of the best kitchens in Chicago, turning a steak and potato town into one of the world's most vibrant, diverse culinary centers.
Beyond his restaurant Charlie put his mark on the restaurant industry. Not only was he a ten time winner of James Beard Awards, but in that institution's darkest hours he lent his reputation and considerable energy to its' rebirth. When 99% of the world walked away, he and a tiny handful of people stepped up.
Charlie's generosity was as grand as his tasting menus. Daily, kids from the Chicago public school system were treated to a sumptuous meal in his private dining room. Along with food, the kids were received talks on excellence, service and more. So many children had their worlds expanded because of Charlie!
There are days when I fear my reach exceeds my grasp. On those days I get inspiration from people who have proved there is no such thing as not possible. Charlie is one of those people. The Ordr.in community sends our condolences to his son, wife Rochelle and all who loved him. His impact lives on but we miss him still.