When Keith Fergel, the GM at Taylor’s Kitchen, learned last week that famed Chicago-based chef and restaurateur Charlie Trotter, 54, had died suddenly, he wanted to honor him in some way.
After all, the well-traveled Fergel had worked as director of operations at Restaurant C in Los Cabos, Mexico from 2005 to 2008. Once the tragic news sunk in, Fergel wrote an email and began contacting local chefs, encouraging them to put a special on their menus to salute one of America’s most influential chefs. Scores of chefs, citing Trotter’s influence on their own cooking, immediately agreed.
Watch for Trotter-inspired specials this week at Mulvaney’s, Ella, Kru, Taylor’s Kitchen and a host of other area restaurants.
“He was a game-changer in the culinary world,” said Fergel. “His talent was huge, his impact was profound and he was a great guy.”
Richard Telford, the chef at Taylor’s Kitchen, got a jumpstart on the Trotter specials last week, producing three dishes, including a seared duck breast with a port wine reduction and a creamy pnt l’evesque cheese. He will produce more specials this week, Fergel noted.
Even Billy Ngo, he of the contemporary Japanese cuisine at Kru, is going to produce a Trotter special.
A memorial service was held Monday in Chicago. Here is part of what Fergel sent out to local restaurants following the news of Trotter’s death: