A Tribute to My Hero, Chef Charlie Trotter

Charlie Trotter and Lori Lynn

With Charlie Trotter
December 12, 1998
Chicago, Illinois

You are my hero… the one I always turn to for ultimate inspiration in the kitchen.
May you rest in peace, Chef.

Charlie Trotter's Kitchen Table

Dining at Charlie Trotter’s Kitchen Table
February 12, 2006

“I have a goal so lofty it’s almost embarrassing to talk about,” says Charlie. “And that’s to be the best restaurant in the world. But I want the amateur diner to enjoy the food as much as the connoisseur. There are eternal truths to be recognized, just as there are eternal harmonies in a Beethoven sonata. Ultimately, I want to prepare food that will be recognized equally in Tokyo, London, and Paris. I am after that universality, that transcendence.”

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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!

Charlie Trotter’s Guest Chef – Me!!!

Today is my birthday. The reason I am telling this tidbit of information to the world is to share my excitement over the coolest birthday gift from my brother, Don, and sister-in-law, Kristy. I will be the Guest Chef For The Day at Charlie Trotter’s Restaurant in Chicago, spending the complete day in the kitchen including food preparation training and working on the line! Then after cooking from 2 PM to 9 PM, I change out of my chef’s whites and sit down to dinner in the dining room with my family. Whoo! Hoo!

Charlie Trotter’s is regarded as one of the finest restaurants in the world. For 20 years, the restaurant has dedicated itself to excellence in the culinary arts. Never willing to rest on its laurels, Charlie Trotter’s Restaurant is innovative and progressive in the world of food and wine and has been instrumental in establishing new standards for fine dining.”

If any of my friends, including my blogger friends, are in Chicago on this particular summer evening (date to be determined), come to Charlie Trotter’s (reservations required) and let me cook for you!

Thanks Don and Kristy. I love you. Whoo! Hoo!

A video profile of Charlie Trotter’s eponymous restaurant.