NYT on Charlie Trotter
- Phaedrus Mar 29, 2011 08:04 PM
I read this article, don't know if it counted or not BUT I thought it was sort of well, sad. I mean, Charlie Trotter is an institution and he has made some really significant contributions to the world of gastronomy. I think it's chef's like him that opened up the way for other chefs to start serving haute-cuisine and tasting menus and pairings. If he isn't as relevant now than he was a few years ago, that doesn't mean his contribution hasn't been valuable and his worth still significant.
I am also well into food trends and write daily about the next cutting-edge thing being led by some pioneer venturing into off the wall stuff. STILL, just because he's not organizing pop-ups doesn't mean his contribution is any lessened - it's just different.
Who knew I cared so much about Charlie Trotter???? Ha!
Caitlin Zaino | www.TheUrbanGrocer.com
i read this in hard copy. i'm interested in trotter's work and more importantly his influence on chicago's food scene and the restaurant industry there. i hope some of the chicago hounds will weigh in with observations. haven't read chef achatz' new book, i would be very interested to read the chapter on his working under trotter in his early career.
one thing trotter was unapologetic for in the interview which really struck me was his insistence that the old rule of "the customer is always right" is a very flawed one. he maintained that if given the chance, people would cheat themselves out of great experiences by playing it too safe or not envisioning the full scope of a meal experience-- i don't know the exact words he used, but the point: that people will have a better meal and experience by putting themselves in the hands of the chef and the restaurant staff.
when it comes down to it i wonder if the decline of trotter's popularity/name recognition is more due to his perfectionist persona or his refusal to kiss the appropriate posteriors now and again. or maybe it's the elaborate food presentations. i think trotter's books/recipes are seen as very inaccessible to home cooks, more so than eg. the french laundry books, come to think of it. he was contrasted to both batali and lagasse wrt their personal "looseness" and affable public personas, while trotter is perceived as neurotic and perfectionist and chilly, yet volatile. been musing about this since i read the piece.
Norm Van Aken posted a entry on his blog today about the NYT piece and his friendship with CT. He maintains that Charlie has not lost a step and is still relevant. It was a nice blog post.
I have several CT cookbooks. I've used his "Cooks at Home" volume with pretty good success. The recipes aren't necessarily hard, but you do need to understand the reicpes and the techinques required to produce the dish. We have his RAW cookbook at work. Now THAT one is pretty inaccessible. The pictures in it are great tho' :-)