Charlie Trotter’s Kitchen

I’m so fortunate. Last Saturday I was The Guest Chef for the Day at Charlie Trotter’s Restaurant in Chicago – a unique opportunity to participate in the creation of Charlie’s world class cuisine. The weekend before, the restaurant celebrated its 21st anniversary. This prestigious restaurant is dedicated to excellence in the culinary arts and I was absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to be a part of the team for the day.
I arrived at 2 PM. The plan was to work in his innovative and progressive kitchen until 9 PM then change out of my chef’s whites and join my family and friends in the dining room for dinner.

The Family Meal: The staff and I enjoyed this delicious fish stew, paprika potatoes, fresh Illinois corn and salad before the shift.

Ready to get cooking, but wait, I am first offered a glass of Champagne…they’re spoiling me! Pierre Peters Brut Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru

I’m hoping I can give you a sense of the experience by sharing photographs of the kitchen and some of the finished plates.

The Busy, Dedicated Staff

Garde Manger: the station where cold dishes are prepared.

Chilled Snow Lake Trout with Smoked Salmon Roe
Sorrel & California Crayfish

Pickled Baby Radish with Chives
Charlie Trotter is clearly passionate about vegetables.

Building the Dish:
Michigan Heirloom Tomatoes with Fava Beans
Basil Seeds & Chervil
Italian Summer Truffle 🙂
Ossau Iraty with Truffle
Ossau Iraty cheese from the French Pyrenées is aged for a minimum of ninety days;  its fragrance is reminiscent of toasted hazelnuts, and it tastes of the sweet, buttery flavors from superior sheep’s milk.

Braised Short Ribs are Grilled…


Forty Eight Hour Braised Short Rib
with Chive Blossoms & Fermented Black Garlic

Angelica Ice Cream is made with angelica herb from the restaurant’s abundant garden.

Michigan Raspberries & Blackberries
with Angelica Ice Cream & Angle Food Tuile

I am so grateful to the entire staff at Charlie Trotter’s. Everyone was extremely accommodating, friendly, and professional. And to top it all off, my family, friends, and I enjoyed a fabulous dinner later that night.
Thank you everyone for a most extraordinary and memorable day.

Mignardise: small sweet bites served at the end of a meal…
A sweet experience indeed!

30 thoughts on “Charlie Trotter’s Kitchen”

  1. I’ve been waiting for this post Lori Lynn! Wow, what an awesome experence! How fun, and this was a gift from your Brother I recall? Nice Bro I would say!!
    The toasted hazelnut taste along with the sweet butery flavor of the Ossau Iraty cheese, makes me want to go out and seek it! I have never heard of it, or the black fermented garlic, sounds interesting! I’ll be Googling it!
    Oh and btw, I love the sneak peek of you! 🙂

  2. Ahhh – must be nice. I’m in Chicago – do you live in Chicago? You know…I named that dish the Tequila Lime Cooler just because of you – lol! It’s going in a cookbook or something and it gets its name because of you! Thanks for that!


  3. I’m with Marie, in that I have been waiting for this post since you told us about it. It looks like it more than lived up to the anticipation. Your photos definitely capture the experience, the only thing missing is the sound of a bustling kitchen, but I think I can faintly hear it way over here.

  4. Father Adam – They gave me a cookbook too, Charlie Trotter’s Vegetables, maybe we’ll make something from the book for Labor Day?

    Hi Mikky – awesome indeed!

    Marie – you are cute! I never think of putting me on the food blog, but my sister-in-law took my picture as she dropped me off at the restaurant…so there you go!

    Hi Tom – I sure did! It was great!

    Hi Darius – I grew up in Chicago, north side, went to Sullivan High School. I live in LA. I visit often as my family still lives there.
    Keep me posted on the Tequila Lime Cooler.

    Hi Marla – thank you, it sure did. The kitchen was bustling, but extremely professional, not a whole lot of side talk.

  5. What an experience, I am sure you had a fantastic evening. (The polish sausage looks awesome too 🙂


  6. This is too cool.

    How exactly did it work? I read above that it’s a gift… what type of “package” was it that the restaurant offers?

  7. What better proof that you can stand the heat in the kitchen than this? 😉 It sure looks like an extraordinary night, first the firsthand experience of work behind the stove, then you got to eat the food too!


    I was so surprised to see that you are not as dark-haired as alwys imagined you. Silly, I know, but somehow one forms a mental picture, whithout wanting to. You do look great, though! 🙂

  8. What a dreamy experience for you. And look at that truffle – oh my gawd!!! I’ll bet you’re still smiling from this experience.

  9. Lori, you are one lucky girl (maybe if I change the last letter in my name, my luck will change too :P)!
    That pickled baby radish with chives looks so delicieux 🙂

  10. I’ve been looking forward to this post too! Wow! Just wow. Looks like an amazing experience. I would so nervous about screwing something up or getting in the way. Amazing that you were able to take the pictures. I’ve got to put something like this on my “bucket list”.

  11. Lori Lynn.. wow, I agree with your other commenters!!
    Everything looks so amazing.. and that truffle.. It is gorgeous!!
    I aspire to have a garden full of all the herbs I desire.. Mine became a mess over the summer, I took many herbs indoors because the heat burnt many of them..

  12. I also remember your amazing birthday gift last year! I am thrilled that you get to have these experiences and am glad that you take the time to share it with us. Thank you.

  13. Hi Emiline and Zita and Giz – I want that truffle too!

    Hi Ohiomom and Simona – I am so glad to have the opportunity to share it with you.

    Hi Paz and chefectomy – it was a fabulous experience!

    Hi EatingClub and Nicole- it was a gift from my brother and sister-in-law, they bid on it in a silent action fundraiser.

    Hi Dhanggit – my pleasure.

    HI Ning and Dee – oh, that is one nice cheese.

    Hi Merisi – my hair, haha. It is blonde in the front and brown in the back, this month! It always changes, but you got it right, naturally medium brown with some grey 🙁

    Hi Lore – I wish you good luck!

    Hi Psychgrad- good idea for bucket list!

    HI Laurie – the garden is impressive, and something I didn’t think about, what about winter? It is Chicago after all, we Californians don’t worry about that. They have to bring the whole garden into an indoor space.

    Hi Cynthia – thank you and it made it even more fun to be able to share it with my blogger friends.

  14. I had to come back & read this in its entirety…. This was an awesome birthday present! How fun to "work" in a famous kitchen for the night. Excellent photos – I feel like I was there.

    xoxox Amy

    P.S. You are such a cutie too!

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