By Chuck Sudo in Food on Nov 30, 2006 6:25PM
"We're very choosy about who we get into bed with, to put it bluntly" was how Charlie Trotter explained the news, reported yesterday by both NBC 5 and the Tribune, that he is the "iconic chef" developing the restaurant for the under-construction Elysian Hotel on East Walton.
Unfortunately for the gourmands among our readership, you'll be waiting until this time in 2K8 to enjoy Trotter's new digs, as that's when the Elysian is expected to open. So if you have reservations for Trotter's eponymous restaurant for August of next year, don't cancel them just yet. Trotter's new restaurant concept - a fine-dining, dinner only restaurant with a casual-themed extension serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner - will follow his established successful blueprint of French cooking techniques, Asian influences, vegetables o'plenty, and shell-shocked waitstaff walking on eggshells, lest they slip and incur the Chef's wrath. In addition, Trotter will be responsible for the Elysian's room service and banquet fare.
Nice work if you can get it, we surmise.
This marks the first restaurant Trotter has opened in Chicago since he touched down at 816 West Armitage in 1987, not counting the Trotter's To Go locations in Lincoln Park and downtown. Trotter does have another restaurant, C, located at the One & Only Palmilla resort in Los Cabos, Mexico. By limiting the accessibility of his cuisine, Trotter's name carries a certain weight, particularly with the AMEX black and VISA kevlar sets. By not spreading himself thin in an attempt to make a buck, Trotter's reputation makes the Elysian announcement an EVENT!!!, one that could gradually build up steam as we approach 2K8. Chicagoist almost expected him to punk out Bayless, Ming Tsai, Emeril, and other Food Network stars by name when he said to the Tribune, with typical humility, "I don't have 18 projects, as some of my colleagues do."
Probably not, but with two restaurants, a third in development, the books, the upscale carryout stores, a gourmet food line, "The Kitchen Sessions" on PBS that still get airplay seven years later, scrapped plans for a restaurant in New York, proposals for restaurants in Las Vegas, the Maldives, Dubai, Singapore, and Shanghai, and a deal to be responsible for room service and banquet fare at a hotel complex for the obscenely rich, Trotter both has his capable hands full and knows his share of Mr. Moneypants.
To put it bluntly, while he thinks other chefs are whoring themselves out, some might consider Charlie Trotter the haute cuisine equivalent of a courtesan.