Chef Charlie Trotter's Touching Memorial Service

Chef Charlie Trotter's Touching Memorial Service
Charlie and Rochelle Trotter at the Service Club of Chicago Gala 2012.

It was one of the most beautiful services I've ever attended.  The Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago was filled to bursting for Chef Charlie Trotter's memorial service, every pew was filled as well as the balcony.  Chairs had to be added to the edges for the overflow crowd for this tribute that was open to the public and included many of the nation's top chefs such as Emeril Lagasse, Rick Bayless and Art Smith.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke so movingly that the crowd broke out in applause at the end.  (Rahm and Charlie were in the same class at New Trier).  Pastor Robert L. Smith (St. Matthew's Church Chicago) spoke as well (he is Charlie's father-in-law).  Charlie's sister, Anne Trotter Hinkamp, spoke about growing up with Charlie.  She mentioned that he was never still and always had a flair for the unexpected.  They were charming stories of a life well lived that ended way too soon.

Pastor Sarah Sarchet Butter (a family friend from the First Presbyterian Church of Wilmette) recalled his many charitable endeavors and recounted Rochelle saying that "the most important thing to Charlie was giving back."  A touching sight was seeing so many chefs in attendance wearing their white chef jackets, many bearing Charlie Trotter's name, in honor of the occasion.

Pastor Calum MacLeod, executive associate pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church,  led the service that also included members of the Fourth Church Morning Choir led by John Sherer.

All those in attendance were welcome at a reception that followed in Anderson Hall.  As a remembrance for the family, cards bearing the words "Memories of a Chef" were available for guests to jot down their memories of Charlie.

I've had the privilege of knowing both Rochelle and Charlie.  I'm involved in the Service Club of Chicago where she is also a member.  Besides being beautiful, her vivacious personality is a magnet for her friends and those who know her.  I remember before they ever married, his name was always on her lips at every gathering.  Hazel Barr remembered a meeting at NoMI where Charlie was all she could talk about even though she was there to discuss becoming a member of the organization.  The last time I saw them together was for the Primo Classico in Lake Forest.  I interviewed them both for my internet show.  They were finishing each other's sentences which I thought was too sweet for words.  He glowed around her and never took his eyes off of her when she was in the room.

Their love was for the ages.  Pastor Butter said "he changed the landscape of the food industry as well as changing the landscape of the lives of those who knew him".....RIP Charlie.....

(Donations in memory of Charlie may be made to Charlie Trotter's Culinary Education Foundation, 816 W. Armitage, Chicago, Ill. 60614.

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