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Famed Chicago Chef, UW Alumnus Charlie Trotter Dead at 54

Chicago restaurateur and UW-Madison graduate Charlie Trotter ’82 has died. According to news sources, he was found unconscious at his home and taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

November 05, 2013

Chicago restaurateur and UW-Madison graduate Charlie Trotter '82 has died. According to news sources, he was found unconscious at his home and taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

"Charlie's great success in the restaurant industry was enjoyed by foodies everywhere," said Paula Bonner MS'78, WAA's president & CEO. "We deeply admired his desire to give back to the community through his culinary foundation and encouraging so many to share his love of food."

Trotter once told On Wisconsin Magazine he worked one of his first restaurant jobs at The Monastery, where he dressed in monk garb as a bartender and waiter. He said he enjoyed escaping downtown Madison with friends to experience Quivey's Grove, the historic restaurant 20 minutes from campus.

After earning a political science degree from UW-Madison in 1982, Trotter worked his way up through the restaurant business and opened his own award-winning restaurant in Chicago just five years later.

He also created a scholarship foundation for culinary students and last year received the James Beard Foundation's Humanitarian of the Year award.

Chef Graham Elliot, who at one time worked under Trotter, tweeted Tuesday "Charlie Trotter: chef, mentor, trailblazer, philosopher, artist, teacher, leader. He now belongs to the ages."

Trotter delivered UW-Madison's winter commencement address to December 2001 graduates, telling them: "This is [the] message -- you get what you give. And if you want a lot — and you'd better want a lot —- you've got to be prepared to give, because taking care of others and doing things for people comes back to you in ways that are immeasurable."

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