Love, Charlie Review – A Five Star Experience, A Must See

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Love, Charlie: The Rise and Fall of Chef Charlie Trotter, from Greenwich Entertainment, introduces audiences to Charlie Trotter, of Chicago’s famous Michelin rated Trotter’s Restaurant, from his humble beginnings to the towering heights of superstar chef.

We are introduced to Chuck Trotter through his first wife, Lisa Ehrlich. Through her we understand, during the early stages of their platonic relationship, what appears to be a near manic need to record his thoughts, and an overwhelming, near obsession, with both journaling the uncontrollable ideas, insights, perceptions, missives, and a river of personal inspirations that flowed unrestrained through his mind, and to include her so much so that she recalls a time when she felt driven to explain to her roommate the sheer volume of letters and postcards she was receiving were from someone she knew in college and not a serial stalker.

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When presented with the volume of writing, as she explained nearly every day, letter after letter, postcard, after postcard, it appears to be the birth of a budding genius even as it laid the groundwork for their relationship.

Soon she moved to Paris for an internship, and he had already understood that cooking professionally was his goal. He tried the traditional path through Culinary School and within six weeks he left the program, and decided to learn by doing, seeing, experiencing. So, he also moves to Paris.

As fate would have it, he finds her in Paris and soon begin to immerse themselves in the Parisian culinary world and take notes.

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Charlie Trotter was everyman, passionate in his desire to be successful, to elevate himself, and his restaurant and ensure that those working for him were taken to the next level also. They were in culinary boot camp; and if you couldn’t cut it, he was surgically precise with his expressions and yet those that endured rose to high heights and what better compliment for a master chef than to have his students excel and become his competition.

The documentary also present Trotter as a tyrant. His former chefs, many of whom went on to open their own celebrated restaurants, explain he was malicious, demanding, and harsh. It is clear they experienced a love/hate relationship with him and wanted to know that their feelings were reciprocated, and he was a perfectionist, at times brutal, hurtful, and seeking to bring out the absolute best in each person. He didn’t care about feelings, he cared about the food, about serving a perfect plate, each time, every time.

Love, Charlie: The Rise and Fall of Charlie Trotter doesn’t gloss over the hard times. Trotter was sued by his former employees, and as the documentary explains if you took the money, you were dead to him. A former chef showed up to film inside the restaurant and the documentary includes a scene with Trotter at the door telling this person essentially, never darken my door again. His feelings and reactions are relatable.

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Throughout we also meet those he influences in the culinary world. He became good friends with Chef Emeril Lagasse and Chef Wolfgang Puck each of whom provide insight into Trotter culinary journey. Chef Grant Achatz, of Aliena, recalls his time working under Trotter’s supervision. We also see how Trotter influenced the culinary world, took risks, made choices in his restaurant that had never been done.

Chef Charlie Trotter revolutionized American cuisine and paved the way for today’s celebrity chefs. His eponymous Chicago restaurant was one of the world’s top dining destinations. To his employees, Chef Charlie Trotter was an enigmatic guru.

To the media, he was an overbearing perfectionist. But to those who loved him, he was Chuck, a fun-loving dreamer whose passion knew no bounds. With exclusive access to never-before-seen archival materials, Love, Charlie is a searing portrait of what happens when a person’s identity becomes intrinsically tied to their work; and an epic cautionary tale of what can happen when that work fades away.

Packed with spice and flavor, Love, Charlie: The Rise and Fall of Charlie Trotter is available in theaters and VOD, is a five star, Michelin rated experience. See it.

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Country: USA.

Language: English.

Runtime: 97minutes.

Director: Rebecca Halpern.

Producer: Renee Frigo.

Writer: Rebecca Halpern.

Featuring: Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse, Grant Achatz, Norman Van Aken, Carrie Nahabedian, Farmer Lee Jones, Della Gossett, Michelle Gayer, David LeFevre, Guillermo Tellez, Reggie Watkins, Rahm Emanuel, Gordon Sinclair, Art Smith, Rick Bayless, Lisa Ehrlich, and Anthony Bourdain.

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