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Chicago Reminisces About Charlie Trotter's

By Anthony Todd in Food on Aug 17, 2012 3:00PM

Photo by Dennis Lee, Serious Eats Chicago.

Trotter announced on New Year's Eve he was closing the restaurant and since then the media has been ablaze with tributes. Every chef who ever worked there (which, in Chicago, is pretty much every chef you've heard of) has been going back and paying tribute to the master, furiously tweeting all the while.

The media hasn't been lying down on the job. Profiles of Trotter and retrospectives of his years at the restaurant have been coming fast as can be. Town and Country magazine published a huge interview with Trotter for their September issue. We don't subscribe to the magazine and the feature isn't online, but luckily Grubstreet pulled the highlights. They include:

- Trotter, on socializing: "I'm really not that comfortable with people. I mean, I love individuals, but I'm not very social."

- What the future might hold: "Trotter has no plans to sell the building that houses the restaurant, and perhaps most tellingly, he told [McInerney] he has no plan to sell the wine cellar, despite the almost frantic interest of several auction houses."

- On perfection: " ...[Trotter's] sommelier consulted with the kitchen after we'd made our selection and reported back that the chef had adjusted the recipes after tasting the wine. I'd never heard of a chef who'd do this, and I'm not sure anyone else does it to this day..."

Toqueland sat down to visit with Trotter at his house in June, and published the in-depth interview yesterday. A lot of that interview concerns Trotter's academic future (he plans to go to graduate school for a while before returning to the kitchen). The best quote? When asked about his insane work ethic, Trotter explained:

"Well, that’s how I’ve always been. And I’ve never once in my life said, “Well, what is the rate of pay? Or what is my position?” Or never have asked for a raise wherever I’ve worked. It’s always my mindset was when I work here, the day I leave, if they don’t have to hire at least two people to replace me, then I have personally failed."

Crain's Chicago Business has put together a graphic of Trotter's alums and where they have landed. It's a pretty insane list, including just about every top chef you've ever heard of. Grant Achatz, Homaro Cantu, Bill Kim, Mindy Segal - the list goes on, and it includes front of house people who usually get left out.

For one last bit of memory, Serious Eats contributor Dennis Lee got a chance to eat at one of the last meals at Trotters. He documented the entire experience with a beautiful slideshow. If you never got the chance to go, or you want to remember your meal, go through the photos.