MADRID, Spain: US chef Charlie Trotter gives a demonstration at the 4th International Gastronomy Summit, ‘Madrid Fusion’ in Madrid, 19 January 2006. Chefs from all over the world are congregating for 3 days of seminars, conferences and cook ups with special notice being given this year to US and European chefs. AFP PHOTO/ Pierre-Philippe MARCOU (Photo credit PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty Images)
Famed Chicago chef Charlie Trotter has died at age 54, a fire department source said according to NBC Chicago.
Fire officials said they received a call around 10:45 CST Tuesday morning, WGN reports. The chef was reportedly found unresponsive at his North Side home and taken in critical condition to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The renowned chef was reportedly found by his son, Dylan, according to the Tribune. The Trotter’s family friend, Carrie Nahabedian, confirmed the chef’s death with the paper.
“My baby’s gone,” Trotter’s wife, Rochelle said, according to Nahabedian.
Long considered among the best restaurants in the world, several of the nation’s most renowed chefs– including Graham Elliott, Homaro Cantu and Grant Achatz — worked under Trotter at his eponymous restaurant.
Elliott, a one-time Trotter protégée, tweeted Tuesday:
CHARLIE TROTTER: chef, mentor, trailblazer, philosopher, artist, teacher, leader. He now belongs to the ages.
As a chef, Trotter was entirely self-taught. Trotter never attended culinary school but rather studied political science at the University of Wisconsin, CBS Chicago reports.
In 2012, Trotter closed his restaurant in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood after 25 years and scores of awards ranging from The James Beard Foundation to the Michelin Guide to the Colin Powell-founded charity, America’s Promise Alliance.
“I love what I do,” Trotter said in 2012 when he was awarded with an honorary street sign in Chicago the day before his restaurant’s last service. “I pinch myself every day that I get to do this for a living, but on the other hand, one must change their way.”
The chef said he planned to get his Master’s in philosophy at the University of Chicago and travel the world with his wife following the closing of Charlie Trotter’s.
Despite his sterling reputation as a generous humanitarian, Trotter’s good works were often overshadowed by his famously volatile temper.
A notorious perfectionist, Trotter was known to make waitstaff at Charlie Trotter’s wear double-sided tape on their shoes to sublty de-lint the carpet without stooping to pick up debris. He also demanded seriousness and focus from his staff, once reportedly driving Elliott to tears and saying “‘Don’t you know that I will (expletive) kill you right now?’”
In August, after hosting an art exhibition for a group of students at his vacant restaurant space, the chef allegedly booted the kids out in a profanity-laced tirade for not cleaning the toilets.
Nonetheless, the chef’s philanthropic efforts earned him various humanitarian awards for his Charlie Trotter’s Culinary Education Foundation in which he hosted underprivileged students at his restaurant and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars benefitting various charities.