The documentary “Love, Charlie” can be seen as a study of brilliance, passion, perfection and self destruction.
The late Chef Charlie Trotter was in the vanguard of new cuisine in the United States for those that could afford it. His story is told by himself, fellow chefs, his first wife, former employees, fellow family members, customers and through archival footage. It is not a study in glorification but a balanced picture of Trotter.
Raised in a meat and potato family he caught the culinary bug after working as a student in certain less than gastronomically noted restaurants. His ex-wife describes meeting him in university and noted his eccentricity. I couldn’t think but Trotter had ADHD very early on in the documentary.
We see and hear Trotter at the beginning of the documentary stating that if it wasn’t for employees and customers the restaurant business would be the greatest business in the world. While there may be grain of truth in that to publicly state that shows arrogance and disdain for those who propelled him to celebrity status.
One is never quite sure if Trotter was a tyrant and toxic. One can’t doubt his creativity, brilliance and obsession but did those qualities lead to his demise? One might conclude that as his fame grew in the mid 1980’s onwards and his empire grew to include foodie videos, books and more restaurants whether these character traits were magnified into a self-destructive fireball.
Think what you may but there is no doubt Trotter revolutionized food for upper class patrons that could afford fine dining. But the man was also a philanthropist and concerned with the development of young chefs. As Trotter and his rock star chef colleagues revolutionized cuisine and displaced the old French restaurant restaurants that were the pinnacle of American fine dining so was Trotter displaced by the new cadre of chefs experimenting with molecular gastronomy. What he “dished out” to the old guard eventually he was on the road of being displaced which happens to many great chefs.
Foodies will enjoy the film but even non foodies can witness the fleeting nature of high reputation, fame and success whether in the kitchen or in life.
Trotter died of a stroke in 2013 at the age of 54.
You can see the trailer here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9dYyg5VcvA
The film will have a theatrical release on January 2,2023.
RKS 2023 Film Rating 87/100.