Charlie Trotter, a known restaurateur and chef, is back in the news after a recent Hulu series, The Bear, which tells the story of a fine dining chef who runs his family’s beef shop. The series aimed to cover the restaurant culture of Chicago, which brought back our memories of one of the great chefs, Charlie Trotter, who opened his self-named restaurant in 1987 and helped put Chicago on the map for food lovers.
A new documentary, Love, Charlie: The Rise and Fall of Chef Charlie Trotter, talks about Trotter’s leadership style, his innovative techniques, and how he is one of the few chefs to put Chicago dining on the map. In the film, he has been portrayed as a visionary who was a self-taught chef. He was a boss who was both loved and feared. The movie features a number of chefs who rose through Trotter’s kitchen, including Grant Achatz, as well as friends Wolfgang Puck and Emeril Lagasse. Additionally, there is old footage of Anthony Bourdain and Julia Child, as well as interviews with Trotter’s relatives. One of his friends, Achatz, at the end of the documentary, talks about how much impact Charlie had on his life, and how he helped in succeeding in life.
The film highlights a renowned man who oversaw a Chicago institution for 25 years, at a time when the city was at the pinnacle of everything from television to fashion. From the very beginning, Charlie had built something that was completely and beautifully different from what any other chef at the time could do. The restaurant served some of the crispiest, juiciest rotisserie chicken along with some delicious tomato soup. The desserts ranged from straightforward baked dishes to intricate pastries, including some delectable chewy chocolate meringues. Charlie may not be the most loved chef when it comes to his leadership style, but his dishes were definitely everyone’s favorites.