Friday Find | Charlie Trotter: The Kitchen Sessions

by Lizzy on November 8, 2013

Charlie Trotter via Kitchen NomadCharlie Trotter via Kitchen NomadI grew up most of my life without cable television. During my formative years living in Germany, there was exactly one American channel run by the Armed Forces Network. When I watched from the late 1970s through the mid 1990s, it made CSPAN look like primetime TV.

My friends and I eagerly awaited VHS tapes stateside relatives would send so we could catch new shows and even the latest commercials. (Commercials were prized because we were so far removed from American society and new products we didn’t dare fast-forward through them.) Upon returning to the U.S., I didn’t feel the need to pay for TV because I wasn’t used to doing so.

Instead, I became a public television junkie getting my fill of all the cooking shows I could watch for free. One series I found particularly fascinating was “The Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter.”  It was a modest looking, but spectacularly executed, show with Charlie Trotter at the helm. Revealing culinary secrets to home cooks and providing coveted glimpses into his restaurant kitchen, Trotter quietly and sometimes uneasily taught his audience how to replicate the grandeur of his namesake restaurant quality dishes at home. Meticulous technique and attention to every carefully composed element on the plate exhibited his brilliance. Occasionally I felt I was spying on his work as though he didn’t quite mean to be in front of a camera. It was a unique opportunity to peer into the mind of this master chef.

I can’t even remember how I learned of his passing this week, but within minutes of finding out I felt a selfish sorrow that I’d never eat his food again and equal despair for the food world that had waited for his next move. Simultaneously lauded and loathed, Charlie Trotter was a Chicago born and bred chef that catapulted this city to gastronomic glory. His restaurant also produced various renowned chefs such as Homaro Cantú and Graham Elliot. Perhaps the most celebrated, Grant Achatz, also studied under him. There’s nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said by other respected chefs and the culinary inner circle.  So I’ll just say, you’ll be missed but not forgotten, Charlie. 

Have you seen “The Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter” or read the book? Let me know if the comments below. 

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