Following the death of her husband and legendary Chicago chef Charlie Trotter in November, Rochelle Smith Trotter has announced via a press release (below) that she and the Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation (CTCEF) are doing a massive fundraising push throughout 2014. The foundation is working towards two lofty goals: Creating the Charlie Trotter Library and the Charlie Trotter Center for Excellence.
The library will be a place to "showcas[e] Chef Trotter's personal collection." Presumably the library will also feature the impressive list of cookbooks Trotter himself wrote. A press rep tells Eater that a location for the library has not yet been identified. Apparently there are also plans for a new book, but the title, publisher, and topic are still unconfirmed.
The blockbuster project on the CTCEF's docket is the Charlie Trotter Center for Excellence. The center will be "a learning institution" bringing Trotter's "philosophical principals regarding cuisine, service, wine and ambience to life." Apparently building a school was a "dream" of Trotter's. A press rep confirms that the Center for Excellence "is not a cooking school," but rather it will "host lectures and seminars." A location has not been identified yet, and no target opening date has been announced.
The fundraising initiative kicked off on Friday with chef David Bouley's tribute dinner at the James Beard House in NYC. The foundation is planning a monthly series of special events throughout the year, culminating in a November gala in Chicago.
Below, the press release:
CHARLIE TROTTER CULINARY EDUCATION FOUNDATION TO LAUNCH YEAR-LONG FUNDRAISING INITIATIVE
New York, NY (January 9, 2014) – The Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation is pleased to announce a year-long intensive fundraising campaign in support of expanding programmatic goals. The campaign kicks off Friday, January 10th, when multiple James Beard Foundation Award Winner, and close friend of the late Chef Charlie Trotter, David Bouley, will prepare a dinner in his honor. Held on the 21st anniversary of their first collaborative dinner at the Beard House in 1993, the evening will be the first in a monthly series of special events organized to raise funds for the Foundation, culminating with a gala celebration in November in Chicago.
"I am honored that Charles trusted me to keep his Foundation alive. His passion for excellence in culinary arts coupled with a desire to help youth resonates throughout the world. Working with him on the Foundation the last 12 years allowed me to intimately understand his vision and I'm determined to fulfill his dreams," said Rochelle Smith Trotter, Director and Treasurer of the Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation.
Working closely with leading culinary figures who played a personal and professional role in Chef Trotter's life and the restaurant, the coming year will focus on fundraising events across the country. In addition to David Bouley's dinner, the seventh annual Pebble Beach Wine & Food Festival, scheduled for April 10th – 13th, will hold a Charlie Trotter Tribute Dinner to be prepared by Chef's Trotter's alumni chefs and longtime friends. Additional events will be announced on a regular basis as planning is well underway to identify and secure the most optimal experience to honor Trotter's legacy and support the Foundation's evolution.
The goals of the 2014 CTCEF initiative will be to establish a new Board of Directors as well as an Advisory Committee to help strategically identify, plan and pursue future development opportunities. A new scholarship application process will be established along with an online presence for the Foundation later this spring. Additional layers of support will include a book as well as the installation of a Charlie Trotter Library, showcasing Chef Trotter's personal collection. Ultimately the Foundation is working towards the realization of Chef Trotter's dream: creation of The Charlie Trotter Center for Excellence – a learning institution which brings his philosophical principals regarding cuisine, service, wine and ambience to life under the umbrella of The Foundation. Proceeds from these and other initiatives will go directly to the Foundation.
Chef Charlie Trotter was renowned for his philanthropic endeavors. Founded in 1999, the Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation raises money to award scholarships for youth who have a passion for cooking and food. Trotter received awards at the White House from both President George W. Bush and Colin Powell for his work with his Culinary Foundation and was named one of only five 'heroes' to be honored by Colin Powell's charity, America's Promise Alliance. In 2005, he was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year award by the International Association of Culinary Professionals for his overall service to the community and in 2012 by the James Beard Foundation at their annual James Beard Awards.
Charlie Trotter opened his eponymous restaurant in 1987, spurring a movement to approach food more creatively, especially in the Midwest. He paved the way for many up-and-coming chefs and helped put Chicago's dining scene on the epicurean map. Trotter received ten James Beard Awards, five stars from Forbes, four stars from the Chicago Tribune and a stream of similar accolades as well as authored 14 cookbooks and hosted the award winning PBS series, The Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter.