"One thing Charlie told me when I was chef de cuisine: 'By Christmas you need to gain 10 pounds. Eat everything, try everything.' I gained five pounds. I went to Boka and then lost it because of stress."
Giuseppe Tentori worked at Charlie Trotter's from 1998 to 2007, serving the last two years as chef de cuisine.
"I can’t explain to you the intense attention to detail that chef Trotter had. It wasn’t just about food. It was about everything. It was a mark on a plate. It was putting tape on the bottom of servers' shoes when we got new carpet so it would collect the lint faster. And it wasn’t crazy. It was just a way of looking at things that was very focused on details. And maybe a lot of those things the guests never even noticed, but if you accumulated all of them, and you didn’t pay attention to all those things, then you would notice."
David LeFevre worked at Charlie Trotter's from 1996 to 2004.
"Really, as a cook, you never get to speak in public, and you zone into work and that's all you do. When I was probably 25, Charlie put me on the spot and had me describe a dish. And I got through it and made things up, and he said to me, 'As a chef, you need to be a great cook, that's a given, but you have to be able to speak in public and articulate your thoughts to be a great chef.'"
Bill Kim worked his way up to sous chef at Charlie Trotter's in three years during the early '90s. He returned in 2003 for two years as chef de cuisine.
"I was making ice cream base, and I was scooping ice to put into my water bath. I think I was doing that really loudly, so Charlie came up from the office and he suggested that maybe if I did it with care and thoughtfulness, I would be more graceful. I think what he was trying to say was the best way to hurry up was to slow down, and I always think about that moment, about how I can do something more gracefully and better."
Mindy Segal was a pastry chef at Charlie Trotter's in the early '90s for eight months.
"He was a very detail-oriented man with a very keen eye, so I always thought, 'How could I learn from all his idiosyncrasies?' Like dusting the tops of light switches? He made a very strong point about shutting doors, like if you were to shut a door, never shut a door with your foot. If you have grace in your motions, working for him, working in his restaurant, at the end of the day, you will be a great chef."
Karen Shields worked as a pastry chef at Charlie Trotter's from 2003 to 2007.
"A line that I read a long time ago was, 'If it's not broken, break it.' I think it was on the back of his Lessons in Excellence book. That's when I knew I wanted to work for someone like that. OK, we've done that, so smash that, and let's do something else. I learned about always pushing yourself, not just riding it out. Not just patting yourself on the back."
John Shields worked at Charlie Trotter's from 2004 to 2006.