Charlie Trotter was a renowned chef and restaurateur who changed the face of American cuisine with his innovative and creative dishes. He was the owner of the acclaimed Charlie Trotter’s restaurant in Chicago, which earned two Michelin stars and numerous awards. He was also a philanthropist, a mentor, a cookbook author, and a television host. But behind his success and fame, there was a dark side to his personality and health that eventually led to his tragic death at the age of 54.
The Rise and Fall of Charlie Trotter
Trotter was born in Wilmette, Illinois, and graduated from New Trier High School. He attended Southern Illinois University and then transferred to University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he earned a political science bachelor’s degree. He started cooking professionally in 1982, without any formal culinary training. He worked and studied in Chicago, San Francisco, Florida, and Europe, learning from different chefs and cuisines.
He opened his first restaurant, Charlie Trotter’s, in 1987, with his father as his partner. The restaurant soon became a destination for food lovers and critics, who praised Trotter’s inventive and refined dishes that showcased seasonal ingredients and global flavors. Trotter was known for his degustation menus that featured multiple courses of small portions, each paired with a wine. He also had a reputation for being a perfectionist and a taskmaster, who demanded excellence from himself and his staff.
Trotter was the host of the 1999 PBS cooking show The Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter, in which he shared his recipes and cooking techniques. He also wrote 14 cookbooks and three management books, and launched a line of organic and all-natural gourmet foods. He was involved in his philanthropic Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation, which provided scholarships and mentoring to young chefs. He also invited groups of public high school students into his restaurant as part of his Excellence Program, where he taught them about food and hospitality.
Trotter was also outspoken in matters of ethics, especially when it came to animal welfare. He took foie gras off the menu in 2002 for ethical reasons, and supported vegetarian and vegan diets. He was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year award in 2005 by the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
However, Trotter’s career also had its challenges and controversies. He faced competition from other chefs who emerged in the culinary scene, some of whom were his former employees. He struggled to adapt to the changing tastes and preferences of diners, who wanted more casual and accessible food. He had conflicts with auctioneers, reporters, and students over various issues. He closed his restaurant in 2012, after 25 years of operation, claiming that he wanted to pursue other interests.
The Cause of Charlie Trotter’s Death
On November 5, 2013, Trotter’s son Dylan found him unconscious in his Lincoln Park home. Trotter was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The initial reports suggested that he might have died of a brain aneurysm or a seizure. However, the Cook County Medical Examiner later determined that the cause of death was a stroke caused by high blood pressure.
According to Chicago Magazine, Trotter had been suffering from various health problems in the months leading up to his death. He had been taking medication for seizures, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. He had also been experiencing headaches, dizziness, insomnia, and mood swings. Some speculated that he might have had a brain tumor or a degenerative brain disease.
Trotter’s death shocked and saddened the culinary world, as well as his fans and friends. Many paid tribute to him as a visionary chef who inspired generations of cooks and diners. His legacy lives on through his books, his foundation, his students, and his dishes.
However, his death also raised awareness about the dangers of high blood pressure, which is also known as hypertension. High blood pressure is a condition where the force of blood against the artery walls is too high. It can damage the heart, the brain, the kidneys, and other organs. It can also increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and death.
According to In These Times, high blood pressure is a common problem among chefs and restaurant workers, who face long hours, high stress levels, irregular schedules, unhealthy diets, smoking habits, and lack of exercise. High blood pressure often has no symptoms until it causes serious complications. Therefore, it is important to check one’s blood pressure regularly and seek medical attention if it is too high.
Some ways to prevent or lower high blood pressure include:
- Eating a balanced diet that is low in salt
- Limiting alcohol intake
- Quitting smoking
- Exercising regularly
- Managing stress
- Taking prescribed medication
Charlie Trotter’s death was a tragic loss for the culinary world, but it also served as a wake-up call for many people to take care of their health and well-being. By following these tips, one can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and its complications, and enjoy a longer and happier life.