Charlie Trotter’s courage and his ability to create lofty culinary and service standards have paved an inspirational path for not only chefs, but also for innumerable poor Chicago children whose lives he also changed.
The news that he is closing his restaurant comes as a huge surprise to many who have long admired his vision. He was a pioneer years before the eruption of the current crop of avant garders and creative thinkers. He was a prophet who arrived in a culinary desert a tick before his time. Even so, he surely must be tucking a little smile into his top pocket as he surveys his extraordinary accomplishments as a leader in the evolving American food revolution.
If I had to record the three best meals I have had, one would be Charlie’s salmon luncheon.
He prepared the meal for the food press. The Norwegian Salmon Fishing Trade Association sponsored it.
I think it was probably the first time any of us had experienced what became known as a tasting menu; tiny course followed tiny course like principal dancers performing solo or in duets in an exquisitely choreographed ballet. Miniscule renditions of salmon appeared in fourteen glamorous poses. We gasped with delight as each model morsel strutted forth from the kitchen runway to pirouette onto our plate.
What a triumph it was.
Without a doubt Charlie Trotter’s next incarnation will be just as dazzling.
Bon voyage, Charlie as you complete your Master’s Degree in philosophy and political theory. The teacher becomes the student in preparation for the eagerly anticipated next class act.