“One of the reasons I’m so excited about this event is that it reminds me of the civic consciousness of previous societies, like Renaissance Florence. In that time there were Guilds, organizations of craftsmen that banded together to improve their craft, maintain high standards, and educate and foster young talent. Our current-day unions resemble guilds superficially, but were mostly invented to prevent craftsmen from being exploited financially. Guilds considered themselves strong members of the civic community, whose calling was to improve, through their craft, the quality of life for all citizens. Guilds men would often take up collections to commission a work of art in honor of one of their members who they felt had made especially important contributions, not only to the reputation of the craft, but also to the quality of life in their city.
I feel the same thing is happening here- practitioners of the culinary arts in Chicago, led by Chef Didier Durand, have declared their intention to honor one of their own, Chef Charlie Trotter, with a commemorative sculpture celebrating not only his great skill in his craft, but the contribution he made to the quality of life in Chicago. We need more of this type of civic cultural activism. I’m proud to be a part of it, and I encourage you to come and enjoy yourselves!”
Cameron Pfiffner’s Marco Polo
The self-taught chef died last week at 54 in Chicago.
Charles “Charlie” Trotter (September 8, 1959 – November 5, 2013) was an American chef and restaurateur.
Trotter was the host of the 1999 PBS cooking show “The Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter”, in which he detailed his recipes and cooking techniques.
He likened cooking to an improvisational jazz session in that as two riffs will never be the same, so too with food.
He also wrote 14 cookbooks and three management books, and promoted a line of organic and all-natural gourmet foods distributed nationally.
Trotter was involved with his philanthropic Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation and other causes. He was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year award in 2005 by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. He invited groups of public high school students into his restaurant as part of his Excellence Program two to three times per week: after eating a meal, the students were told how the food was prepared and the motivations of those preparing it.