Charlie Trotter, The Famed Chef, Dies At 54


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Charlie Trotter, who is said to have redefined fine dining, passed away today. He was a chef in a Chicago restaurant which was considered one of the finest in the world. He was found this morning in his home in Lincoln Park unconscious, and had stopped breathing. Trotter was then taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Trotter was a world renowned chef, and was one of the best at what he did. His son Dylan was the one who found him this morning, and he was taken away by the ambulance at 10:45 a.m. and pronounced dead 11:48.

He rose to fame in 1987 when he opened Charlie Trotter's restaurant on Armitage Avenue, quickly becoming one of the most popular restaurants in Chicago, and the news quickly spread around the country and beyond.

He was named the country’s Outstanding Chef by James Beard Foundation in 1999 and in 2000, Wine Spectator magazine called Trotter’s the best restaurant in the nation. Several more accolades have come since for the renowned chef, who will always be remembered as a culinary innovator.

Charlie Trotter is widely recognized for what he was able to accomplish as a chef, especially with no formal training. He also had his own show for a while, and another well-known chef with a TV show, Anthony Bourdain, said of the late chef, "It was the beginning of the notion that America could have a real haute cuisine on par with Europe. That was what Charlie did."

He believed in serving people the right kind of food, and also stressed the importance for the healthier options. He was quoted on his restaurant's website saying "The taste of free-range and organic products is so much better than the alternative."

The famed chef grew up in the northern Chicago suburb of Wilmette, and majored in political science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, although he was inspired to cook from a meal that he enjoyed years before.

Charlie Trotter will always be remembered as an innovative chef who cooked in a way that could be compared to improvisational jazz, as he continued to shake things up all the time. He became famous for his quest to fill three daily tasting menus with creative dishes.

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