Charlie Trotter Talks with Food and Beverage Today
Your Ultimate Insider's Look at the Business Side of Food and Wine


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In This Issue

Meet the Masters
Trotter on Philanthropy
Chef Trotters' culinary foundation is close to his heart and the work it does will astound you,

But, it’s talking about his culinary foundation that makes Trotter a bit far away and perhaps searching for exactly the right (or "best") words to describe it.

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"Thank you for that question," he said in reference. "The culinary foundation is really a two-part thing. You have the fundraising arm of it, which establishes scholarships, grants and stipends to people, who without them wouldn’t be able to go to culinary school. But that’s the easy part. In its 10-year history has raised about a million and a half dollars. The goal is to build it to a self-sustaining fund. The more interesting part of the thing is the excellence program. Three times a week, we host Chicago public high school students.

They come to the restaurant where they are given an overview of the kitchen; the wine cellar, the dining room and then we put them in our studio kitchen where they are fed an eight- to ten-course meal, roughly the same meal that is being served that night in the dining room. They hear from around ten staff members about excellence and how they try to take things to the next level and then they field questions from every student at the table.

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So we talk about [things like] how to motivate people, or sustainable farming and growing practices to food and eating within certain cultures. So, it’s good for the students and it’s good for my team to get up and speak about how they define excellence within themselves. Besides, it’s interesting to see our guest’s reactions when a yellow school bus pulls up outside the restaurant around 7:00 amongst all these luxury vehicles and stretch limos. It’s like "what’s going on? Are we in the right place?"

Aperitif: The Parting Words

"Despite the years of work, it never seemed like work. In that respect, I’ve never worked in my life,” said Trotter. “I’m the luckiest guy in the world. How could you not be psyched to be in a situation where you get to drink great wine every single day? You get to eat amazing foodstuffs every single day? Who wouldn’t like that, right? And you mean to tell me that I can make a living doing this? Is this legal…is this legit?"


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