Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Top Local Chefs Sound Off On What It Was Like To Work For Trotter In Tribune Feature


Charlie Trotter's last day is Friday, but before the iconic restaurant has its final dinner service, the Chicago Tribune's Mark Caro writes about the intensity in the kitchen in a three-part series.

Here are some of the best excerpts from Part 1:

"Charlie walks into the kitchen," (Homaro) Cantu recalls, "and he goes up to Graham Elliot, and he puts his hands around (Elliot's) neck, and he's like, 'Don't you know that I will (expletive) kill you right now?' And Elliot's just standing there, and tears (come) right out of his eyes."

"... if Trotter doesn't like how something looks, into the garbage or onto the floor it goes, a bit of raucous dinner theater for guests seated at the kitchen table."

"Trotter's most celebrated alumnus may be Grant Achatz of Alinea and Next, but Achatz worked there for just a few months, and Trotter's general rule was if you didn't last a year, you didn't really work there at all. Achatz, who went on to be mentored by Thomas Keller at the French Laundry in Napa Valley, detailed his negative Trotter's experience in his 2011 memoir, Life, on the Line."

"I don't like to always publicize this to my own team, but the longest job I ever had prior to opening this restaurant was six months," Trotter says. "I worked in 40 restaurants over a five-year period."

Coming Wednesday in the Tribune: Part 2 — "Trotter cranks up the kitchen heat."

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