Top Chef Charlie Trotter Is Master Of Chicago's Contemporary Food Scene

You know those tasting menus that are so popular at fine dining restaurants? You have top chef Charlie Trotter to thank for those. In 1987, with his father, Trotter opened Charlie Trotter's in his birth city of Chicago, effectively introducing European-style tasting menus to the United States culinary scene. Since then, Trotter has been responsible for many other culinary firsts, including introducing vegetarian and raw food menus while also giving restaurant guests an up-close-and-personal look at how haute cuisine is prepared by bringing their tables right into the kitchen.

Trotter's first foray into cooking began in college when his roommate taught him how to cook. After college, Trotter toured Europe and the United States to taste food from only the very best restaurants and to learn from the exposure. Having never gone to culinary school, Trotter was entirely self-taught and learned firsthand that the top restaurants not only have excellent food, but a first-rate wine program as well. The wine program at Charlie Trotter's continues to be amongst the most highly recognized in the world and has inspired the addition of wine programs to the menus of many leading restaurants.

In addition to opening his namesake restaurant, Trotter has also been very philanthropically involved, establishing his very own Culinary Education Foundation as well as being active in others, such as Meals-on-Wheels, SOS, Parkinson's Institute, Make-A-Wish, Infant Welfare Society, Cystic Fibrosis, and Windows of Hope.

The introduction of fine wine and dining into American culture has been well received and Trotter has been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades over the years, including 10 James Beard Awards, five stars from Forbes Magazine, four stars from the Chicago Tribune, and two Michelin stars, as well as a list of other accolades.

Over the years, Trotter has broadcasted his culinary philosophy which practices using only the finest, natural ingredients possible to accentuate the taste and flavor of each dish. His belief in using the best possible resources has been well documented in 14 cookbooks and award winning PBS Series, The Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter. Trotter rocked the culinary world when he announced the closing of his first eponymous restaurant, set to occur in August of 2012, after 25 years of service. Despite the loss, the great city of Chicago is still proud to call Trotter and his culinary wizardry a product of their own.

— Carly Zinderman, JustLuxe


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