Reports: Charlie Trotter Dead at 54

Written By Scott Joseph On November 5, 2013

Celebrated Chicago restaurateur Charlie Trotter has died, according to reports from that city. He was 54. He closed his critically acclaimed namesake restaurant in 2012, stating at the time that he wanted to travel and go back to school to earn a master’s degree. 

Most recently, Trotter had been scheduled to be part of the 10th anniversary celebration of Norman’s, the Orlando restaurant of Norman Van Aken. He was to be one of the five celebrity chefs preparing the gala dinner that also included Emeril Lagasse, Jeremiah Tower and Dean Fearing. However, at a meet and greet event the night before the dinner, members of the staff of Norman’s were muttering that Trotter had not yet shown up. The next night, Van Aken announced, somewhat enigmatically, that Trotter was ill and unable to travel. Members of Trotter’s culinary staff cooked in his place.

Van Aken and Trotter met in 1980 when both were hired to work at a Chicago restaurant owned by Gordon Sinclair. Van Aken was hired for the kitchen, Trotter was busing tables. This is from a profile I did of Van Aken in 2003:

“Sinclair also hired a young man named Charlie Trotter to bus tables at the same restaurant, but Van Aken soon brought him into the kitchen to train in the preparation of food. ‘I think what he did was he showed me that an approach to being a chef could be more than just cooking,’ says Trotter, owner of Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago and also a past James Beard award winner, ‘there was also an intellectual side.’”

There are no details yet on the cause of death. 

This story is developing and will be updated.

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