Charlie Trotter, who opened up and ran Chicago’s well-loved Charlie Trotter restaurant for a quarter century, died on Tuesday. He was 54.

Trotter was discovered unconscious at his home in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago by his son Dylan, according to Carrie Nahabedian, a family friend and fellow chef. He was rushed to the Northwestern Memorial Hospital by the Fire Department. Trotter’s death was confirmed by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. An autopsy will be conducted sometime on Wednesday.

Those close to Trotter, including Larry Stone, say that he had been dealing with an inoperable brain aneurism for the last several years and that it had become more problematic as of late, reported the Chicago Tribune. The celebrated chef reportedly suffered a stroke six months ago and had been told by a doctor not to fly. Trotter apparently had flown to and from Wyoming over the weekend before he was found unresponsive at his home on Monday.

In 1987, the self-taught Trotter opened his eponymous restaurant on West Armitage Avenue, and it quickly took off and earned him a number of James Beard Awards. He also became successful through the sale of cookbooks and his PBS TV series The Kitchen Sessions With Charlie Trotter.


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Gathering the knowledge that would later help him establish his own eatery, Trotter studied at tens of establishments around the world, including Freys Girardet in Switzerland, according to The New York Times. With the financial help of his father, Trotter was able to create the restaurant of his dreams.

“Charlie Trotter changed Chicago’s restaurant scene forever and played a leading role in elevating the city to the culinary capital it is today,” Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “Charlie’s personality mirrored his cooking — bold, inventive and always memorable.”

Last year, Trotter closed down Charlie Trotters on its 25th anniversary to study philosophy and political theory. He also had plans to travel with his family.

Trotter is survived by his son, his wife Rochelle Trotter, his mother, two brothers and a sister.

– Chelsea Regan

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