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 Charlie Trotter's








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La Belle Cuisine - More Chef Features

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Fine Cuisine with Art Infusion

"To cook is to create. And to create well...
is an act of integrity, and faith."


Chef Charlie Trotter R.I.P.
September 8, 1959 - November 5, 2013



Taste the international flavors of igourmet.com

"You have a finite number of mouthfuls in your life.
I want to make every one count."

~ Chef Charlie Trotter


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 wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes)  Recipe Index






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Chef Charlie Trotter






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Charlie Trotter's






Charlie Trotter's Vegetables






Charlie Trotter's






Charlie Trotter's
Meat and Game






Charlie Trotter's Desserts






Kitchen Sessions
with Charlie Trotter






Cooking with Patrick Clark: A Tribute to the Man and His Cuisine






Among other noteworthy books by Chef Charlie Trotter are:

'Charlie Trotter
Cooks at Home'


'Workin' More
Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter'


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Entrance Atrium Charlie Trotter's



Commitment to Culinary Excellence
by Michele W. Gerhard

Once in a while someone will ask me to recall my "most unforgettable restaurant experience". At first, it seems like a difficult question. After a moment's reflection, it is obvious that my ultimate culinary experience remains an incredibly delicious fest at Charlie Trotter's in Chicago.
The problem, of course, lies in discovering how to adequately convey the extraordinarily superb quality of every single morsel that passed my lips that evening. How could a brief description here possibly do justice to that indulgence
of the senses? As much as we hate to admit it, sometimes writers are all too painfully aware of the limitations of language.
Granted, there may be just a tiny bit of sentimental prejudice involved here,
as my husband and I were joining our son, Keegan, then Chef Trotter's pastry
chef, for a birthday celebration. But that was not our only meal at Trotter's, and
it strikes me that perhaps the only thing more amazing than the extraordinary
quality of the food and service is the incredibly consistent excellence of both.
Every member of Chef Trotter's staff, without exception, reflects dedication
to extraordinarily high standards, as does the entire mien of the restaurant.
Actually, I hesitate to use the word "restaurant", as I sincerely believe that
Charlie Trotter's is much more than that: It is a unique phenomenon, a cele-
bration of excellence, apparent from the moment the guest enters the door.
The ceiling-high wine rack in the entrance bar conveys an image filled with
promise. We sense that what is yet to come will be extraordinary in every
way, and we are not disappointed. The atmosphere throughout is one of
understated elegance.
We are graciously escorted to an immaculately dressed table. It is immediately apparent that Chef Trotter's legendary dedication to excellence extends far
beyond the food. He is exceedingly well aware of the impact of environment
and table setting on the total dining experience. Lalique crystal sconces adorn
the walls, providing a warm, muted suffusion of light. Only the finest crystal,
china and cutlery appear on Chef Charlie's tables.
The china used for each course is selected specifically for its ability to enhance
the visual impact of the dish. In fact, visual perfection is so important to the Chef
that it is the sole job of one of his employees to polish silverware and crystal with
lint-free cloths imported from the Czech Republic.
And woe be unto anyone of his brigade who dares to fall into even a hint of the
lackadaisical. Chef Trotter inspects each and every plate before it leaves his
pristine, state-of-the-art kitchen. If even one fingerprint remains on the plate
when it reaches him, the offender is sure to be reprimanded (or worse) for his inattentive lapse into insouciance.
Chef Trotter has been described by various critics in terms ranging from merely fanatical to absolutely maniacal. He makes no apologies for his total commitment
to perfection, nor should he. "You have a finite number of mouthfuls in your life.
I want to make every one count, "says this acclaimed chef who has raised the preparation of food to a fine art. Food that tastes good is not enough. It has to
be utterly delicious, and for Chef Trotter, that means as close to perfect as is
humanly possible. Knowing this, our already fervid anticipation was pushed to
a new level upon being presented our choice for the evening's degustation:

Vegetable Menu

 Terrine of Tiny Carrots with Dill, Cucumber & 50 Year Old Balsamico

Wild Rice & Brussels Sprouts with Zucchini & Roasted Vegetable Broth

"Lasagne" of Turnip, Pumpkin & Leeks with Black Truffle Sauce

Potato & Endive Pave with Wild Mushroom & Saffron Sauces

Wild Mushroom and Baby Fall Vegetable Torte with Red Wine Sauce

Grand Menu

 Marinated Yellowfin Tuna with Hearts of Palm and
 Russian Osetra Caviar

Maine Lobster with Waterchestnuts, Preserved Papaya

& Tahitian Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette

Florida Keys Grouper with a Shiitake Crust, Braised Endive,
Parsnip, Veal Stock Reduction $ Red Wine Essence

Bob White Quail with White Corn Grits, Sonoma Foie Gras,
Hokaido Squash, Mushroom Sauce and Quail Jus

Grass-fed Veal Loin with Legumes, Turnips, Tiny Leeks,
Meat Juices & White Truffle Oil

 Dessert Assortment: [same for both menus]

Tropical Fruit Crème Brûlée, Michigan Apple & Chestnut Package,

Honey Poached Pear, Warm Butternut Squash Tart &
Baked Chocolate Ganache Torte

(Charlie Trotter's eponymous restaurant closed August 2012. )


The titillation generated by such a menu is certainly understandable, consider-
ing Chef Trotter's impeccable reputation. He and his staff are known to go to
any length necessary to afford the diner an opportunity to experience the very
quintessence of the ingredients.
If, for example, you are served scallops, you may rest assured they are excep-tionally fresh, hand-harvested "diver'' scallops free of any sort of processing or
preservative. Fresh seafood is flown in from Maine four days a week.
The Chef uses only the very best aged balsamic vinegars, grapeseed oil, white truffle oil, watercress oil, and imported French butter. His staff thinks nothing
of spending 12 hours making what winds up as 1/2 cup of veal, duck, quail, or
rabbit demi-glace. His produce is, by and large, organically grown.
And that reminds me. One of these Augusts, God willing, I will be there to treat
my taste buds to the Chef's special tomato menu!
Chef Trotter has arrangements with a number of fruit and vegetable purveyors
who are just as dedicated as the Chef himself to the pursuit of excellence. What-
ever the ingredient, if it isn't the very best, it won't be offered to his discerning
clientele. Excellence, and simple elegance are the watchwords here.
As Chef Trotter is fond of saying, "Ingredients are everything!"  "Oui, Chef!"
Yes, indeed!
A case in point was the Terrine of Tiny Carrots. . My immediate reaction was, "Ahah! So that's what a carrot really tastes like!" The dish was a sheer delight, conveying the essence of the flavor of carrots as nature intended.
It is immediately apparent that here is a Chef who is wise enough to know that
the real purpose of cooking is only to bring food to life, to let it shine in it's own
glory. Zanne Early Zakroff, a name no doubt familiar to Gourmet readers, has described a Trotter's dessert as "a warm McIntosh apple soup with a crisp apple dumpling including an apple sorbet so perfect it could have fallen from a tree." That's what great food is all about. How fortunate we are that there are still chefs who care enough about excellence to dedicate their lives to its pursuit. Not only
must each individual course meet these exceptionally high standards, but there
must be an integration, a marriage of flavors, a synergy uniting the whole.
This ideal brings to mind the famous chef Jean Delaveyne, who maintains,

"Cooking is like conducting an orchestra,
and all the instruments must be in tune."

There is a story about Chef Trotter which explains his devotion to the concept of cohesiveness, the "literacy" that binds things together. One evening a customer ordered a 1961 Château Gruard-Larose. That particular evening's degustation
had nothing in it which would complement the complexities of a $350 Bordeaux,
so the Chef, in typical purist fashion, had his staff prepare a meal especially for
this guest, one which was ideally suited to the exquisite wine. Obviously, his
dedication to finesse is without limit.
Charlie Trotter's staff integrate his total concept of excellence by accomplishing that miracle of miracles in fine dining: They are attentive and gracious without
being intrusive, officious, or (God forbid) haughty. Throughout the meal we had
the impression of being treated as honored guests rather than merely customers.
Each course was enthusiastically presented with a flourish reminiscent of a finely
tuned corps de ballet and described in understandable, but never condescending, terms. Bravo, Chef!
The most prestigious chefs of France congregated regularly at Le Camélia in Bougival, for joyous meals prepared by Chef Jean Delaveyne. It is interesting to observe where America's most noteworthy chefs are found indulging their palates. During the course of the 1996 convention of the National Restaurant Association
in Chicago the tables of Charlie Trotter's were graced by the crème de la crème. What greater tribute could chefs Daniel Boulud, Grey Kunz, Mark Peel, Traci
DesJardin, and Emeril Lagasse, among many others, pay Chef Trotter?
After all, chefs, too, have only a "finite number of mouthfuls" and know to spend
them wisely. It's all about excellence....



Click for Recipes from
Charlie Trotter's

Smoked Salmon Canapés

Chilled Clear Cucumber Soup with Watermelon,
Apple, and Jicama

Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs with
Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Mediterranean-Inspired Beef Tenderloin with
Quinoa and Red-Wine-Black Olive Vinaigrette

Dried Fruit-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted
New Potatoes and Bacon-Sherry Vinaigrette

Peppered Lamb Loin with Polenta, Ratatouille, and
Bell Pepper-Infused Lamb Stock Reduction

Sautéed Sweet and Sour Cod with Oyster
Mushrooms and Somen Noodles

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Red Wine Risotto, Wild Thyme
and Tiny White Asparagus

Peppered Tuna with Wild Mushroom Ragout

Tuna-Crab Roll and Tuna "Tartare" with Avocado, Crushed
Black Sesame Seed Vinaigrette, and Coriander Juice

Black Mission Fig Terrine with Israeli Couscous Sauce
and White Pepper-Buttermilk Ice Cream

Chocolate Brioche-English Toffee Bread Pudding

Chocolate-Ginger Truffle Tart with
Pear-Caramel Sauce

Simply Sorbet

Three-Point Peach Tarts with Peach Compote
and Preserved Ginger

Tropical Fruit – Macadamia Nut Napoleon

Two-Berry Linzertorte with Black Pepper Anglaise


Charlie Trotter Cookbook Features

Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home, Menu 1
Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home, Menu 2
Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home, Menu 3
Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home, Menu 4

Chef Keegan Gerhard
Index - Cookbook Features
Daily Recipe Index
Recipe Archives Index


"Talent, determination to succeed and an adventuresome spirit–who
wouldn’t want it! These are the hallmarks of an accomplished chef,
one who’s passionate about food. Charlie Trotter has this and more:
Charlie Trotter has vision."

— Culinary Trends

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Webmaster Michele W. Gerhard
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Revised: November 07, 2013.