Thursday, August 30, 2012

Charlie Trotter's Last Hurrah . . .

Photo via the Inquisitr.

So. We finally arrive at the conclusion of Mark Caro's tremendous three-part story on Charlie Trotter in the Chicago Tribune.

The iconic Lincoln Park restaurant serves its last meal August 31, and this series was the perfect sendoff, offering in-depth and sometimes brutally honest perspectives on the behind-the-scenes action.

Here are the highlights of Part 3 (also read Part 1 and Part 2):

"Matthias Merges, Trotter's chef de cuisine and then executive chef and director of operations from 1996 to 2010, places the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at about the midpoint of what he considers to be the restaurant's peak period, when the kitchen team at times included Giuseppe Tentori (GT Fish & Oyster, Boka); David LeFevre (MB Post in Manhattan Beach, Calif.); Bill Kim (Urban Belly, Belly Shack and Belly Q); Curtis Duffy (former Avenues, soon-to-open Grace); Della Gossett (French Pastry School); Graham Elliot (Graham Elliot, g.e.b.); Homaro Cantu (Moto, iNG); and John Shields and Karen Urie (both currently between projects on the East Coast). He says the restaurant clicked into place in the years before 9/11, and 'between 2002 to 2006 we had a lot of influence, we were breaking new boundaries, the team was tight, the food was tight, the service was on, the package was full.'"

"Many of the world's best chefs also cooked in Trotter's kitchen; his 20th anniversary dinner alone featured dishes by world-renowned chefs Tetsuya Wakuda, Thomas Keller, Heston Blumenthal, Daniel Boulud and Ferran Adria. Naha chef Carrie Nahabedian says she enjoyed one of the best meals of her life when Marc Veyrat, a French chef specializing in foraging, co-presented a meal with Trotter in 1999."

"Mindy's Hot Chocolate chef Mindy Segal had been pastry chef at Trotter's for eight months in the early '90s when her mission was aborted. She says she'd been chatting with a guest chef in the kitchen about her experiences there, and she thinks he must have said something to Trotter because 'Charlie, a couple of days later, he took me into the dining room to have a talk with him, and he said, "I accept your resignation." And I was like, "OK." It was like I was being fired, but he was letting me resign. I was very angry with him, and I did not talk to him for years — 10 years probably. I really felt cheated.'"

"... I'm not interested in happiness. Any fool can be happy. What I'm interested in is satisfaction. There's got to be more to life than just being happy. You've got to be fulfilled. You've got to be satisfied; philosophically satisfied is what I mean. You've got to say, 'Life is a puzzle, and what I do as a pursuit is going to be a puzzle, and so am I fulfilled?'"—Charlie Trotter

This phenomenal three-part series has got to win TONS of awards!

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