Gorgeous plates of food are a work of art, and it’s kind of surprising that there haven’t been more art shows that look at the visuals of food outside the restaurant context. Charlie Trotter: Chef, Artist, Thinker does that through paying homage to the brilliant chef, who passed away in November 2013, a year and a few months after he closed his eponymous restaurant.
The show is small, but along with his chef’s coat and a James Beard Award, you get hints of what inspired Trotter—books, like Ayn Rand’s the Fountainhead and Fernand Point’s Ma Gastronomie—as well as insight into his menu creation process, with a notebook of ideas, drawings and the restaurant’s first in-process menu from 1987, which he annotated with things like “There will be more desserts." Along the walls there are large, colorful photographs, like the one above, from Kipling Swehla, who shot Trotter's book, Workin’ More Kitchen Sessions. Of course, there’s always more that could be said about the chef and more to explore about his process and legacy, but the show, put on by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and Charlie Trotter's Culinary Education Foundation, reminds us of how much the culinary world lost with his passing.