Tributes have flooded in from across the food world following the shocking death of iconic Chicago chef Charlie Trotter.
The 54-year-old chef was found unconscious and not breathing in his home yesterday morning (5 November) and was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The exact cause of his death has not yet been established.
In a statement, his wife Rochelle Trotter said: “We are incredibly shocked and deeply saddened by the unexpected loss of Charlie at our home in Lincoln Park. He was much loved, and words can not describe how much he will be missed.
“Charlie was a trailblazer and introduced people to a new way of dining when he opened Charlie Trotter’s. His impact upon American cuisine and the culinary world at large will always be remembered.”
Fellow US chefs and restaurateurs have taken to social media website Twitter to express their shock and sadness at Trotter’s sudden passing.
Thomas Keller of the French Laundry and Per Se said: “Charlie Trotter was a visionary; one who exemplified what a young American chef could do to influence a generation. He’ll be greatly missed.”
Grant Aschatz’s three-Michelin-starred Chicago restaurant Alinea posted: “The staff and ownership of Alinea offer their condolences to chef Trotter’s family and friends. His impact on Chicago dining will long be remembered.”
French chef Daniel Boulud tweeted: “Very sad day in the chef community #charlietrotter influence on young American chef was tremendous and inspiring. He will be missed greatly.”
Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain wrote: “Rest In Peace Charlie Trotter. A giant. A legend. Treated shabbily by a world he helped create. My thoughts go out to those who loved him.”
Danny Meyer said Trotter’s death was a “towering loss” while fellow New York restaurateur Mario Batali posted: “Holy sadness, my dear pal and comrade @charlietrotter has died. May he RIP , he will be sorely missed. #shocked”
Alice Waters, chef, author and the proprietor of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, tweeted: “Just heard the tragic news of Charlie Trotter’s passing. The food world has lost someone truly special.”
Jean-Georges Vongerichten wrote: “So sad ! lost a great friend and an inspiration for the Art of Cooking . Chef Charlie Trotter , condolences to the family.”
Spanish chef José Andrés said: “#CharlieTrotter lets celebrate his amazing contribution to America and the world. He was a genuine person. Today heaven will eat better….”
Across the pond in the UK, chefs also paid tributes to Trotter.
Ashley Palmer-Watts, executive chef of the two-Michelin-starred Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in London, tweeted: “Rest in peace Charlie Trotter, you’ll be greatly missed in our world and thank you for your inspiration.”
Saturday Kitchen presenter, chef and restaurateur James Martin wrote: “Legend is often over used but just heard the sad news and loss of Charlie Trotter a true inspiration to many thoughts go to his family RIP.”
Jamie Oliver said on his Twitter account: “Sadly today American Culinary Legend Charlie Trotter died aged 54…I had the pleasure to eat his food…”
Andrew Fairlie, Scotland’s only two-Michelin-starred chef, wrote: “Too young, too sad.”
And Indian chef Atul Kochhar of the Michelin-starred Benares in London tweeted: “Its a big loss for Chefs world to loose a hero like Chef Trotter – we will miss him.”
Charlie Trotter was the chef-owner of his eponymous restaurant in Chicago, which he closed last year after 25 years. The restaurant was world-famous for its innovative approach to American cuisine and set a standard for chefs in the USA and beyond.
Charlie Trotter’s was the first restaurant in the USA to introduce a chef’s table in the kitchen and offer wine pairings for its menu. He was the first chef to open a fine dining restaurant in Las Vegas: Charlie in the Palazzo, which gained a Michelin star in 2008 but was forced to close two years later due to the recession.
Trotter won 10 James Beard awards and trained some of the USA’s most acclaimed chefs, including three-Michelin-starred chef Grant Achatz of Chicago restaurants Alinea and Next. His restaurant won two stars in the inaugural Michelin Guide to Chicago in 2011 and in 2002 placed 11th in the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. He wrote 14 cook books, a television series and three books that translated his philosophies of excellence into business-world instructionals.
When Trotter closed his restaurant in August last year, he announced plans to travel the world and return to college to study philosophy. The day before Charlie Trotter’s shut, Chicago city unveiled the “Honorary Charlie Trotter Way” in his honour.