Charlie Trotter’s tragic passing

SHARE Charlie Trotter’s tragic passing
SHARE Charlie Trotter’s tragic passing

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Please enable Javascript to watch this videoCharlie Trotter was a rock star, the prototype for the larger-than-life celebrity chef in Chicago, many of whom trained with him. The tragedy of his death Tuesday was compounded by the last time he was in the public eye — an ugly incident involving high school students at his restaurant at the end of August.

That should not be how we remember Charlie Trotter. He found the fame and success that many chefs set out to find but never grasp. He gave pleasure to countless Chicagoans, his namesake restaurant forming the frame for cherished celebrations and events. He scaled the heights with more grace than he could muster once there for a few decades, and as the years passed he grew increasingly unhappy to see all the people he inspired to follow him on their own climbs toward gustatory excellence.

I hope people who re-read the sharp rebuke I wrote for him in August see the challenge to turn himself around in it, see the frank words I was trying to deliver, freighted with the knowledge of my own difficulties. My people have a saying: “While there is life, there is hope.” Once life passes, there is memory. How Charlie Trotter is remembered will be different for each person who knew him. He will be loved, mourned, celebrated, ridiculed. I will remember him as a cautionary tale, a reminder that the pride that goads us to achievement can also turn and devour us, if we’re not careful.

To read the column in the Sun-Times, and see the video of Charlie Trotter from last August, click here.

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