Culinary icon Charlie Trotter was remembered fondly by family, friends and chefs from Chicago and around the country during a memorial service Monday at The Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago.
The church, located on the Windy City's Magnificent Mile, was filled with mourners who had been privileged to call Trotter relative or friend, mentor, teacher, an inspiration to be around and ultimately one who never hesitated to welcome people to his table.
Calum I. MacLeod, executive associate pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church welcomed guests to the memorial saying all were gathered to "give thanks for a Chicago legend."
Speaking during the service was Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Trotter's sister Anne Trotter Hinkamp, Sarah Sarchet Butter, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Wilmette and the chef's father-in-law Robert L. Smith, pastor of St. Matthew's Church in Chicago.
Chefs in attendance to pay their respects to the icon included Rick Bayless, Todd English, Jimmy Bannos, Rick Tramonto, Graham Elliot, Martial Noguier, Art Smith, Emeril Lagasse, Norman Van Aken and more.
Mayor Emanuel called Trotter a "one-of-a-kind" whose restaurant was a culinary institution that put Chicago on the gastronomic map.
"Charlie's greatest contribution to the city was not the way he served his food but the way he served his city," Mayor Emanuel said, adding Trotter's philantropic work was exceptional.
"And I'm not talking about charity dinners or checkbook charity but small acts of kindness," he said.
Mayor Emanuel and others mentioned Trotter's hospitality and generosity to people who may have been down on their luck, without a job or homeless, and how the celebrated chef would invite them into his restaurant and serve them a superb multi-course meal.
The chef's younger sister Anne Trotter Hinkamp shared stories of what it was like growing up with Charlie. "It was always exciting and challenging at times," Hinkamp said, adding that their mother said "As soon as Charlie could stand, he took off running and didn't stop."
As pastor Sarah Sarchet Butter addressed the crowd gathered to celebrate "a precious life,", she said "Charlie knew hospitality and he made it his life's work." Through his sharing of meals and welcoming guests to his table, Butter said he embodied the values of a Christian life and a caring attitude toward others.
The acclaimed chef died at the age of 54 on Nov. 5. Donations in memory of Charlie Trotter may be made to Charlie Trotter's Culinary Education Foundation.