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Beard dinner at Charlie Trotter's


RonC
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Trotter was one of the revolutionaries when he opened his restaurant in 1987, emphasizing fresh domestic ingredients and bold flavor combinations over the traditional heavier, saucier French preparations. His approach has since become the norm for many contemporary American chefs, and his influence was inescapable Sunday night, with not a bearnaise or hollandaise sauce to be found on any plate.

How was this revolutionary in 1 9 8 7?

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Just thought you would be curious to see the review of the recent James Beard Foundation dinner at Chuckie T's.

One thing about Mark Caro that those of you not from Chicago should keep in mind when he writes about food, he really is a movie reviewer (and not very good at that either).

Culinary Chemistry

S. Cue

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Just thought you would be curious to see the review of the recent James Beard Foundation dinner at Chuckie T's.

One thing about Mark Caro that those of you not from Chicago should keep in mind when he writes about food, he really is a movie reviewer (and not very good at that either).

Culinary Chemistry

What was so bad about this article? I've certainly read much, much worse.

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. . . .

One thing about Mark Caro that those of you not from Chicago should keep in mind when he writes about food, he really is a movie reviewer (and not very good at that either).

. . . .

I thought he did a good job of reporting the dinner at Trotter's. I wasn't there, but I enjoyed reading the article. He seemed to cover a lot of ground in the space alloted to the article. I can't imagine the relevance of knowing he writes movie reviews when he's not reporting events, I only hope he's stopped beating his wife. Seriously, I suspect he doesn't beat his wife, has never beaten his wife and I don't expect his prowess, or lack there of, as a movie reviewer to become a topic of conversation here.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Trotter was one of the revolutionaries when he opened his restaurant in 1987, emphasizing fresh domestic ingredients and bold flavor combinations over the traditional heavier, saucier French preparations. His approach has since become the norm for many contemporary American chefs, and his influence was inescapable Sunday night, with not a bearnaise or hollandaise sauce to be found on any plate.

How was this revolutionary in 1 9 8 7?

maybe in Chicago?

(need locals to weigh in whether this was really new at a high profile restaurant at that time and place)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I do not like Mark Caro's writing. This is one of his better food articles though. Caro is indicative of the declining quality of the Chicago Tribune which no longer has a very good food writing staff, as well as declining quality throughout the paper.

The Trib still beats the Sun-Times, but not by much.

S. Cue

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I like Bill Daley's work, but he's been very attentive to the phenomenon commonly referred to as "eGullet" that I could be prejudiced.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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It's too bad. The Trib used to have a great food section and excellent reviewers. It was never as good as The New York Times, but the Trib ran a close second.

There are still a couple of good writers, and they still have a couple of good home grown food columns, but the majority of the section has become celebrity chef syndicated columns. There no longer appears to be an active test kitchen. The food section seems to lack an active staff too. More and more, articles are being written by writers whose primary job is something else (like reviewing movies).

Who knows? Maybe they have recently lost a bunch of people and others are subbing until new writers are hired. I hope this is the case.

S. Cue

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Trotter was one of the revolutionaries when he opened his restaurant in 1987, emphasizing fresh domestic ingredients and bold flavor combinations over the traditional heavier, saucier French preparations. His approach has since become the norm for many contemporary American chefs, and his influence was inescapable Sunday night, with not a bearnaise or hollandaise sauce to be found on any plate.

How was this revolutionary in 1 9 8 7?

maybe in Chicago?

(need locals to weigh in whether this was really new at a high profile restaurant at that time and place)

I figured that but the next sentence takes the sphere of influence outside of Chicago into American chefs in general. Alice Waters is the seminal figure in American cuisine if one talks about "fresh domestic ingredients." As for bold flavor combinations there are a few LA chefs who are as famous as Trotter doing that in the early 80's. I also get a bit tired of hearing about "traditional heavier, saucier French preparations" that the French themselves began moving away from decades ago. But that's just me, not so much of a criticism of the overall article which I thought did a good job of reporting on the event.

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Trotter was one of the revolutionaries when he opened his restaurant in 1987, emphasizing fresh domestic ingredients and bold flavor combinations over the traditional heavier, saucier French preparations. His approach has since become the norm for many contemporary American chefs, and his influence was inescapable Sunday night, with not a bearnaise or hollandaise sauce to be found on any plate.

How was this revolutionary in 1 9 8 7?

He was one of the first to start replacing much of the butter and creme in dishes with concentrated stocks, reductions, etc

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Achatz's course was more of a departure. He skewered cubes of cobia, a meaty fish, plus a cherry and a chunk of beet on grill-kissed cinnamon sticks and served them face down in highball glasses partly filled with red-wine pudding and bittersweet cocoa foam. Beforehand Achatz was nervous that Trotter might disapprove of his wanting to serve the dish without utensils -- you ate it off the sticks, thus allowing the cinnamon smell to waft into your nose -- but he got the OK.

Can someone -- Chef Achatz? another attendee? -- help me understand the dynamic to which this sentence refers? Were the assembled chefs expected to obtain approval from Chef Trotter?

Dish sounds great to me, btw!

edited to clarify a question -- ca

Edited by chrisamirault (log)

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Trotter was one of the revolutionaries when he opened his restaurant in 1987, emphasizing fresh domestic ingredients and bold flavor combinations over the traditional heavier, saucier French preparations. His approach has since become the norm for many contemporary American chefs, and his influence was inescapable Sunday night, with not a bearnaise or hollandaise sauce to be found on any plate.

How was this revolutionary in 1 9 8 7?

He was one of the first to start replacing much of the butter and creme in dishes with concentrated stocks, reductions, etc

The replacement of butter, cream, roux based sauces with reductions, lighter sauces in general turned the French culinary scene around almost two decades earlier. It was called Nouvelle Cuisine. Back to America this 'trend' was entrenched in the Left Coast well before 1987.

I don't disagree with Trotter's influence on certain American chefs. I don't agree that he was a seminal force in the revolution described above, he transported it to Chicago. Of course he put his own spin on it and developed a "style" or 'approach' that's been embraced by his fans.

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I don't disagree with Trotter's influence on certain American chefs. I don't agree that he was a seminal force in the revolution described above, he transported it to Chicago. Of course he put his own spin on it and developed a "style" or 'approach' that's been embraced by his fans.

A genuine question - not being antagonistic here - I'm fairly young and am still learning about culinary history. But when I was coming up in England, Trotter was one of the few American chefs that I was aware of. If he is only of importance in the context of Chicago (a city I had very little awareness of), how has he reached such a level of fame? Is it purely a PR thing?

Edited by VeryApe77 (log)
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I don't disagree with Trotter's influence on certain American chefs. I don't agree that he was a seminal force in the revolution described above, he transported it to Chicago. Of course he put his own spin on it and developed a "style" or 'approach' that's been embraced by his fans.

A genuine question - not being antagonistic here - I'm fairly young and am still learning about culinary history. But when I was coming up in England, Trotter was one of the few American chefs that I was aware of. If he is only of importance in the context of Chicago (a city I had very little awareness of), how has he reached such a level of fame? Is it purely a PR thing?

Not a single drop of antagonism taken. I'm 35 going on 36. I grew up in Los Angeles. I have a life long interest in food and dining out. It was a bit of a family joke, "what is she going to with this." It came as no surprise to them when I married a French Chef.

I didn't mean to imply that he is only important in the context of Chicago, I meant that if he is a revolutionary figure for the reasons stated in that one paragraph that I quoted from the article it would be in Chicago or to put it another way it wouldn't be in California or New York. And he most certainly wasn't an instigating force in 'lighter' sauces over those with cream or butter.

I have no idea why Trotter is so famous. I'm open to being enlightened.

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I have no idea why Trotter is so famous. I'm open to being enlightened.

It's a mystery to me as well. It strikes me that he really is not much of an innovator. He was one of the first Nouvelle chefs on the scene in Chicago, but finer practitioners have come and gone while Charlie stays and stays.

S. Cue

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Trotter was one of the revolutionaries when he opened his restaurant in 1987, emphasizing fresh domestic ingredients and bold flavor combinations over the traditional heavier, saucier French preparations. His approach has since become the norm for many contemporary American chefs, and his influence was inescapable Sunday night, with not a bearnaise or hollandaise sauce to be found on any plate.

How was this revolutionary in 1 9 8 7?

He was one of the first to start replacing much of the butter and creme in dishes with concentrated stocks, reductions, etc

The replacement of butter, cream, roux based sauces with reductions, lighter sauces in general turned the French culinary scene around almost two decades earlier. It was called Nouvelle Cuisine. Back to America this 'trend' was entrenched in the Left Coast well before 1987.

I don't disagree with Trotter's influence on certain American chefs. I don't agree that he was a seminal force in the revolution described above, he transported it to Chicago. Of course he put his own spin on it and developed a "style" or 'approach' that's been embraced by his fans.

I didn't say "the" first - the first multi-course tasting I ever had was at Trotter's back in 89 - I didn't even know what an amuse was back then.

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Guess I started this thread with the posting of the Tribune article, I suppose I should sound off just a tad. I DO find it interesting that it's sunk (some would say "rissen") to a discussion of both the Tribune writers and of Trotter himself. I personally feel that there are lots of great "cooks" out there - some even here in the Chicago area. For my wife and I, a great meal involves more than just good eats and while we read restaurant reviews, it's not our only deciding factor in where to CONTINUE to return to. Back when Pierre Pollin and Marcel Flori and the old wait staff were at LeTiti de Paris, is was our favorite haunt -- not just for the food, but for the warm friendship we had with everyone there -- and that we continue to have outside the restaurant. That's what kept bringing us back. Certainly Michael has continued the same quality of food -- but we do miss Pierre and Marcel. Guess, as I said, a great meal experience, in our book, involves more than grub on the table and fine wine in the glass.

My 2 cents.

Sidecar Ron

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Guess I started this thread with the posting of the Tribune article, I suppose I should sound off just a tad. I DO find it interesting that it's sunk (some would say "rissen") to a discussion of both the Tribune writers and of Trotter himself.

If that's referring to some of my posts, I made a comment about a paragraph in the article that I believe incorrectly or vaguely attributes "revolutionary" characteristics to Trotter. I felt I should clarify what I had stated based on subsequent posts rather than just dropping off. I don't see how this makes the discussion "sink", I wouldn't argue that it elevates the thread either. It's a part of dialogue.

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I don't disagree with Trotter's influence on certain American chefs. I don't agree that he was a seminal force in the revolution described above, he transported it to Chicago. Of course he put his own spin on it and developed a "style" or 'approach' that's been embraced by his fans.

A genuine question - not being antagonistic here - I'm fairly young and am still learning about culinary history. But when I was coming up in England, Trotter was one of the few American chefs that I was aware of. If he is only of importance in the context of Chicago (a city I had very little awareness of), how has he reached such a level of fame? Is it purely a PR thing?

Not a single drop of antagonism taken. I'm 35 going on 36. I grew up in Los Angeles. I have a life long interest in food and dining out. It was a bit of a family joke, "what is she going to with this." It came as no surprise to them when I married a French Chef.

I didn't mean to imply that he is only important in the context of Chicago, I meant that if he is a revolutionary figure for the reasons stated in that one paragraph that I quoted from the article it would be in Chicago or to put it another way it wouldn't be in California or New York. And he most certainly wasn't an instigating force in 'lighter' sauces over those with cream or butter.

I have no idea why Trotter is so famous. I'm open to being enlightened.

OK - you were 17 in 1987. I was 40. I remember eating in the US in the 80's. Give me examples of chefs in the US in the 80's who were more "progressive" than Trotter (there were some - but it's not as if he was 20 years behind the times in terms of the US). Robyn

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I don't disagree with Trotter's influence on certain American chefs. I don't agree that he was a seminal force in the revolution described above, he transported it to Chicago. Of course he put his own spin on it and developed a "style" or 'approach' that's been embraced by his fans.

A genuine question - not being antagonistic here - I'm fairly young and am still learning about culinary history. But when I was coming up in England, Trotter was one of the few American chefs that I was aware of. If he is only of importance in the context of Chicago (a city I had very little awareness of), how has he reached such a level of fame? Is it purely a PR thing?

Not a single drop of antagonism taken. I'm 35 going on 36. I grew up in Los Angeles. I have a life long interest in food and dining out. It was a bit of a family joke, "what is she going to with this." It came as no surprise to them when I married a French Chef.

I didn't mean to imply that he is only important in the context of Chicago, I meant that if he is a revolutionary figure for the reasons stated in that one paragraph that I quoted from the article it would be in Chicago or to put it another way it wouldn't be in California or New York. And he most certainly wasn't an instigating force in 'lighter' sauces over those with cream or butter.

I have no idea why Trotter is so famous. I'm open to being enlightened.

OK - you were 17 in 1987. I was 40. I remember eating in the US in the 80's. Give me examples of chefs in the US in the 80's who were more "progressive" than Trotter (there were some - but it's not as if he was 20 years behind the times in terms of the US). Robyn

I don't recall saying that Trotter is not progressive or behind the times. I questioned his position as a seminal force in revolutionizing American cusine according to this paragraph

Trotter was one of the revolutionaries when he opened his restaurant in 1987, emphasizing fresh domestic ingredients and bold flavor combinations over the traditional heavier, saucier French preparations. His approach has since become the norm for many contemporary American chefs, and his influence was inescapable Sunday night, with not a bearnaise or hollandaise sauce to be found on any plate.

I also recall explicitly stating that I am open to enlightenment.

Robyn, enlighten me. How was Trotter's revolutionary according to the above?

Edited by touaregsand (log)
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Shucks folks -- it's JUST food and well-paid cooks --- and which we're damned lucky to have such in great abundance and quality!!!! With all the crap goin' on in the world ---- and the millions who don't have access to much food of any kind, let's not get too wrapped up in our own little world.

Peace - may it come sooner than the next war. (ahhhh, but nations don't really rally around peace like they do war, do they)

Sidecar Ron

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