Charlie Trotter Goes To Grad School, But With Safety Net Of Being Famous Chef
At the height of his game, Charlie Trotter has decided to retire from his acclaimed restaurant — tomorrow is the last day he’ll be at the helm of his eponymous restaurant, in fact — to go to grad school and study philosophy, probably at The University of Chicago.
While the restaurant world has known this sad fact for a while (and the New Yorker, in a completely stereotypical move, cornered him to talk about Dostoyevsky and Saul Bellow), Trotter tells Toqueland that he’s been looking forward to being a grad student for decades — but luckily, unlike real grad students, he has a legitimate safety net in the form of being a legendary chef:
TROTTER: To go back to academia and read books that sit unread still by my bedside, many, many, many of them. .. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? If I go back to college and they flunk me out after a couple of months, I can always go back to the restaurant business. So there is no down side to this.
TOQUELAND: You said today at lunch that you may very well find yourself back in the business at some point?
TROTTER: I think ultimately I will be back in this field, this line of work, because I love it too much. But I do need a roughly three-year hiatus period to decompress, look at things differently, read the books. And frankly, there’s an ego element in it for me because I want to see if I can still hang academically with supremely cerebral 26- and 27 year-olds and then go from there.
Don’t worry about trying to hang with the grad students, Mr. Trotter. All you really have to do is remember that half the time, the supremely cerebral twentysomethings hew to the principles of argumentative discourse delineated by philosopher Harry Frankfurt in his best-known work.