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Nonprofits Honoring Late Chef Charlie Trotter In Major Fundraising Phase

By Janet Rausa Fuller | October 10, 2014 5:22am
 The nonprofits devoted to carrying out the legacy of the late chef Charlie Trotter have raised more than $210,000 this year.
The nonprofits devoted to carrying out the legacy of the late chef Charlie Trotter have raised more than $210,000 this year.
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Charlie Trotter/Facebook

CHICAGO — Less than a year after chef Charlie Trotter's death, the nonprofits in his name have raised more than $210,000 from events in Chicago and other cities.

The Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation, led by his widow, Rochelle Trotter, has raised $80,000 since the beginning of the year, largely through a series of tribute dinners.

The most recent one, a $500-a-head affair at the Trump Hotel held in conjunction with the Chicago Gourmet food and wine festival, brought in $30,000.

Janet Fuller says, appropriately, most of the fundraisers center around cuisine:

The foundation's next big fundraiser is Nov. 5, exactly one year after Trotter's death from a stroke. He was 54.

Trotter's close friend, chef Emeril Lagasse, will host the event at Venue One, 1034 W. Randolph St. Other chefs cooking at the casual, walkaround affair include Gale Gand, Matthias Merges, Tony Mantuano and Graham Elliot and visiting luminaries David Bouley of Bouley in New York and Patrick O'Connell of The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia.

The Trotter Project, formed in June by Moto chef Homaro Cantu and other Trotter alumni with the support of the late chef's family, has raised $132,799, according to spokesman Derrek Hull. That combines proceeds from the opening night event of the Windy City Wine Festival in September; proceeds from Trotter-inspired menu items sold at local restaurants for Charlie Trotter Day Aug. 17, and individual donations.

The Trotter Project's home base is the Lincoln Park building where Trotter ran his renowned restaurant for 25 years and hosted countless groups of high school students interested in culinary careers.

On Oct. 26 in New York, Cantu and Hot Chocolate's Mindy Segal will join Trotter's longtime friend Norman Van Aken and others at the StarChefs International Congress for a tribute dinner in which they'll do variations of some of the late chef's dishes.

Culinary education is a primary focus of both charities. In July, Rochelle Trotter donated $25,000 to the American Culinary Federation to be doled out in $2,500 increments over the next year as need-based scholarships for culinary students.

At the Chicago Gourmet dinner last month, she announced a second scholarship program totaling $20,000 for the Illinois Restaurant Association.

Tickets to the Nov. 5 fundraiser to benefit the Trotter Culinary Education Foundation are $250 until Oct. 20 and $350 thereafter. VIP admission is $400 ($500 after Oct. 20) and includes a 45-minute reception preceding the 7 p.m. start.

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