Behind the Scenes at Charlie Trotter's 19th Anniversary Dinner

January 2007



Charlie Trotter celebrated 19 years of fine dining in Chicago with chefs Grant Achatz, Wylie Dufresne, Andoni Luis Aduriz, and more. Each guest chef presented a course, and in some cases, multiple courses, alongside two of Chef Trotter's. The final menu was a sequence of thirteen dishes with pairings, some plated a la minute on Trotter's famous white passe, and others set up banquet-style in the demo kitchen next door. Proceeds of the dinner benefitted The Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation.

Managing Editor Will Blunt was our fly on the wall, observing the nuts and bolts of the event and talking with Chef de Cuisine Matthias Merges about the months of planning that brought the night together so seamlessly.


Matthias Merges, Chef de Cuisine, Charlie Trotter

Matthias Merges, Chef de Cuisine at Charlie Trotter in Chicago, talks about how the restaurant's 19th anniversary dinner came together, from finding the right chefs, pairing the wines, and orchestrating the courses.

Will Blunt: There was a real sense of culinary gravity in the kitchen that night; how did you choose the chefs for the event?

Matthias Merges: We've worked with every top chef on the planet in some way or another, either at a benefit dinner or special function, We've worked with Paul Bocuse, Ferran Adria, Wylie Dufresne, Thomas Keller, and we always look for different chefs who have the same philosophy, dedication to their craft, and a generosity. We want to work with people who understand the whole idea of cuisine, restaurants, and hospitality. For this event in particular, everyone who was here truly epitomized what they do in their own house—Hermé in Paris, Andoni in Spain, Wylie in New York. We wanted a great vibe so we looked for really special chefs.

Recipes from the Dinner

Charlie Trotter's 19th Anniversary Celebration
To Benefit the Charlie Trotter's Culinary Education Foundation
Sunday, July 30th, 2006

Tempura Prawn—plum, preserved lemon, vanilla fragrances Smoked Paprika—encapsulated peach, almond Puffed Porcini—toasted garlic, parsley
Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Brut NV
Grant Achatz

Alaskan Dungeness Crab with Amazake and Sake Sorbet
Ruinart Brut Rose NV
Michael McDonald

Octopus, Orange Soil, Asparagus, Chamomile Yogurt
Martinelli "Martinelli-Dry Select" Gewurztraminer, Russian River 2004
Wylie Dufresne

Wylie Dufresne and Tona Palomino plates the octopus Building the plates on the passe
Representing Mini Mozarellas: Buttery Idiaziabal Cheese Gnocchi in Salted Iberian Pork Bouillon, Contrasting Vegetables
Sancerre Chateau de Sancerre 2005
Andoni Aduriz

Confit of Wild Salmon with Sweet 'n Sour Duck Gizzards and Curried Duck Liver Jus
Isole e Olena "Collezione de Marchi" Chardonnay 2004
Charlie Trotter

Smoked Eel, Peanuts, Snow Peas, Whipped Caramel
Chianti Classico Isole e Olena 2003
Wylie Dufresne

A Seasonal Interpretation: Rack of Lamb, Truffle and Walnut "Marzipan," Touches of Fern, Cocoa and Lime
Isole e Olena "Ceparello" 2001
Andoni Aduriz

Grass-Fed Virginia Veal: Tongue, Cheek and Sweetbread with Twenty Four Hour Sunchokes and Red Wine-Licorice Emulsion
Isole e Olena "Collezione de Marchi" Cabernet Sauvignon 1998
Charlie Trotter

Sesame Shortcrust with Red Pepper and Raspberry Compote, Parmesan Cream, and Tuile
Jurancon "Les Jardins de Babylone" D. Dagueneau and G. Pautrat 2004
Pierre Hermé

Ispahan—Gelee of Rose and Lychee Enrobed in Dark Chocolate with Raspberry Ganache

Macaroon Ispahan with Lychee and Rose Ganache and Raspberry Compote

Vin Santo del Chianti Classico Isole e Olena 1998
Pierre Hermé

Artisanal Breads
Michelle Gayer

Pierre Hermé, Michelle Gayer, and Andre Louche before serviceWild salmon in the Thermo-circulator for Charlie Trotter's dishPierre Hermé finishes the Tango with olive oilOctopus, Orange Soil, Asparagus, Chamomile Yogurt by Wylie DufresneMichelle Gayer, Andoni Aduriz, Wylie Dufresne and Grant AchatzAndoni Aduriz and Matthias Merges on the linePierre Hermé with the pastry team at Trotter'sGrilling the Octopus for Wylie Dufresne's Octopus, Orange Soil, Asparagus, and Chamomile Yogurt