Charlie Trotter, Ivy Tech, ACC and me

May 13, 2011

What do Charlie Trotter, Ivy Tech's Culinary School, and the Hammond Area Career Center's Culinary Arts Program have in common you ask?? Me!

To make a long story short, last year my wife, Mary, and I attended a hospital gala at the Palmer House in Chicago as guests of our good friend Bill Hutton. Little did we know that one year later we would have the opportunity to make a culinary discovery that could have a very profound influence on local students involved with the culinary arts at Ivy Tech and Hammond's Area Career Center.

Allow me to explain. A silent auction was held that evening at the hospital event, and one of the many wonderful items listed was simply labeled "Guest Chef with Charlie Trotter". Knowing that Charlie Trotter's restaurant is regarded as one of the finest in the world, and that no one else was bidding, we started the bid. Two hours later we lucked out, and the bid was ours. So how does this lead to having an impact on future young chefs in Northwest Indiana? Please continue.

As a "guest chef" at Trotter's, you are expected to don chef's whites, do food prep and work the line in the kitchen from 2 to 8 p.m.; experience a late lunch at Charlie's "Family Table" with his wonderful kitchen staff; then gather with the wait staff one hour before opening to review the extensive menu and wines to be served for the evening.

Lunch at the "family table" is held in Trotter's TV studio adjacent to the restaurant at a great table that seats 20, and it was at lunch that Charlie Trotter entered the room, and we were introduced. He explained that his "Chef for a Day" program was his way of giving back to the community, since the money raised through such charity auctions is donated to countless nonprofits, including Meals on Wheels, the Make a Wish Foundation, and culinary scholarships for local students. When I asked chef Trotter to elaborate on the scholarships, he pointed to the table for 20, and said that he brings 20 high school students to Charlie Trotter's two to three times a week to tour his restaurant, meet and discuss food with his expert staff, and then dine at this special table. A total of 2,000 students per year are invited.

Working with Chef Allen Bild, at the Hammond Area Career Center, and Chef Elida Abeyta, at Ivy Tech, it is the intention of the Lakeshore Chamber to select a group of aspiring chefs from both schools and take a "road trip" to experience the amazing culinary feats of chef Charlie Trotter. Who knows, the next version of Charlie Trotter may very well be residing right here in Northwest Indiana. There is only one way to find out.

Article Written By Dave Ryan

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