In the first installment of At the Chef’s Table with Charlie Trotter, The Daily Meal’s video producer Ali Rosen sat down with the venerable Chicago chef to discuss his family’s food history and how he became inspired to cook.
Chef Charlie Trotter has noted that while he didn’t come from a particularly food-enthusiastic family, his mother was still a very good cook. However, Trotter’s relationship with food began when he was 4 years old because he became aware of how much he loved to eat. "I’ve always loved to eat, I’m ravenous when I eat," he says. "My mother was an accomplished home cook, and she had a repertoire of about eight dishes that she would repeat."
In college [at the University of Wisconsin at Madison] Trotter began cooking for his roommates and became very passionate about it. "I’d leave my last class of the day and go straight to the market and round up ingredients and I’d prepare a four- or five-course meal for my roommates," Trotter says.
With regards to pursuing a liberal arts degree instead of going to culinary school, Trotter explains that when he went to University of Wisconsin he just thought of his love for food as a hobby; he had no idea that he would turn out to be a chef and restaurateur. After graduating in 1982, Trotter went home and told his parents that he wanted to be a chef, which they fully supported. "When I was about 14 years old my father pulled me aside and said, 'Over the next few years you may begin to think about what you want to do for a living, and just so you know, your mom and I will support you any way we can, but the one thing you’re never going to be able to is to come and work for me because you’ll never be satisfied if you go work for your old man and ultimately the only way you’ll ever be satisfied is to be your own boss.'" The ideal stuck with him.
Stay tuned for the upcoming installments of At the Chef’s Table with Charlie Trotter to find out more about the chef’s career.