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Culinary Event: Champagne at Trotter's

By Lisa Shames in Food on Oct 8, 2007 5:26PM

2007_10_trotters_apps.jpgNormally, the last thing Chicagoist wants to do on a hot Saturday afternoon is put on “business-casual attire” (that basically goes for any Saturday afternoon, really). But when it’s for a champagne reception at Charlie Trotter’s, it’s not a problem. And when said reception includes the opportunity to see some of the most influential chefs from around the world, well, we’re there.

In case you haven’t heard — with all the media hype going on, we don’t know how you couldn’t have — Charlie Trotter’s restaurant is celebrating its 20th anniversary, with a grand finale dinner that took place last night featuring courses prepared by more Michelin-starred chefs that you can shake a lobe of foie gras at (see below), including Ferran Adria (El Bulli), Thomas Keller (Per Se, French Laundry), Daniel Boulud (Daniel), Heston Blumenthal (The Fat Duck) and Pierre Hermé (Pierre Hermé Dessert Boutiques). Or, as Trotter referred to it during a brief appearance at the reception, “a modest and simple” celebration. Trotter also said that at 2 a.m. on Sunday night, he was going to get in his car, drive south and never come back, but with so many new projects in the works we know he’s just joking. At $5,000 per person (with proceeds benefiting the Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation, which has already raised close to $1 million to those seeking careers in the culinary arts), needless to say, Chicagoist wasn’t at the dinner.

In between chef spotting, probably with our mouth open (yeah, Chicagoist is sort of a chef groupie), we noticed some other interesting tidbits at the reception.

  • We loved the passed hors d’oeuvres prepared by Chicago’s own Graham Elliot Bowles (Avenues), Koren Grieveson (Avec) and Roland Liccioni (Old Town Brasserie). Just don’t ask us to name them (hey, you try juggling a camera, glass of champagne and notepad at the same time).
  • Thomas Keller is really tall, even more so in his black clogs.
  • While we were told that Hudson Valley Foie Gras co-owner Michael Ginor was at the reception, we don’t know if that means any change in Trotter’s aversion to using the stuff.
  • We loved Lee Jones's idea of “business casual” with overalls, white shirt and red bowtie. But when you’re a farmer and your family owns the Chef’s Garden Culinary Vegetable Institute in Milan, Ohio, and you’re one of the main suppliers of Trotter’s pristine vegetables, you can probably wear whatever you want.
  • Beyond being just a luxurious way to spend a late Saturday afternoon, what we liked best about the reception was seeing the camaraderie among the chefs, including a large number of Chicago’s top toques, in a business known for its competitiveness. That, and the Veuve Clicquot champagne, of course.