Stellar chef and culinary icon Charlie Trotter dies at 54

2013-11-05T14:45:00Z 2013-11-15T21:42:11Z Stellar chef and culinary icon Charlie Trotter dies at 54Eloise Marie Valadez Eloise.Valadez@nwi.com, (219) 933-3365 nwitimes.com

CHICAGO | Acclaimed chef Charlie Trotter died Tuesday morning after being found unresponsive at his Lincoln Park home, according to Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford.

The chef was taken to Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The Cook County president's spokeswoman said the medical examiner's office was notified and an autopsy is scheduled for today.

The groundbreaking chef closed his Charlie Trotter's restaurant last year after 25 years as a restaurateur and culinary icon. Trotter, a multi-James Beard Award winner, was at the forefront of changing the fine dining culinary landscape throughout his career.

He pioneered extraordinary food and dining concepts including the degustation (tasting) menus starring multi-courses; high quality vegetarian menus; raw food selections; the introduction of "kitchen table" dining and the use of local, regional, exceptional products and foodstuffs from around the world and more.

Trotter, author of various noted cookbooks and star of his popular public television series "The Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter," also established The Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation.

He was given the Humanitarian of the Year Award by the International Association of Culinary Professionals in 2005.

On New Year's Day 2012, Trotter announced to a group of revelers during a party at his restaurant that he'd be closing his Chicago dining institution.

"In August, we'll be putting an exclamation point on what we've done,' said Trotter. "We'll be marking 25 years of Charlie Trotter's and marking the end of 25 years."

Chicago chef Martial Noguier, owner/chef of Bistronomic, called Tuesday an extremely sad day and his thoughts go out to Trotter's wife Rochelle and his family.

"We lost a wonderful man and somebody with a vision that worked hard all his life," said Noguier, who was a friend of Trotter's. "He put Chicago on the culinary and restaurant map."

Noguier said Trotter, who was hospitable and welcoming to guests,  would always invite him to various events at his restaurant, whether it was author luncheons or the annual New Year's Eve party. Trotter even invited Noguier to the eatery to treat him for dinner on his birthday.

"I have a lot of respect for what he has done. He was a great chef and a nice person," Noguier said.

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