The Trotter Project

Charlie Trotter’s spirit of mentorship and giving back to the community lives on through The Trotter Project—a 501(c)(3) charitable organization created in part by our Founding President Chef Homaro Cantu and supported by Chef Trotter's mother Dona-Lee, sister Anne, brothers Scott and Tom, and his son Dylan, along with countless alumni and friends. 

The Trotter Project seeks to unite budding talent interested in the culinary arts, along with the hospitality and service industries, through a variety of mentorship programs designed to educate and inspire. Our programs inspire the next generation of talent, propel careers and build community through our partnerships with:

  • ProStart Program – The Trotter Project and ProStart Mentor Menu program in all 50 states and U.S. military bases in Europe and Asia, in partnership with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation
  • Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) – Paid fall and summer internships for under-served high school students in Arizona, Illinois, Virginia, California, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC.
  • After School Matters – Six-week paid summer internships for at-risk high school teens in Chicago.
  • Fundraising events – Seasonal events and celebrations of Chef Trotter’s legacy. Proceeds go toward funding our mentorship programs, operations and maintaining the site of the original Charlie Trotter's restaurant and studio as a hub for youth engagement and events. 

Charlie Trotter's Story

Charlie Trotter the chef changed the world of cooking through his Michelin-starred restaurant. Charlie Trotter the teacher had an even broader reach as a mentor who fostered a generation of world-class chefs, while also welcoming high school students into his kitchen to learn the art of excellence in service.

Chef Trotter opened his namesake restaurant in 1987. During its 25-year tenure, the kitchen welcomed over 800 aspiring cooks. Many cite Charlie Trotter for cultivating the discipline, skill and curiosity integral to their culinary careers. These include Bill Kim, Matthias Merges, David LeFevre, Mindy Segal, Giuseppe Tentori, Christian Ramos, Michael Taus,  David Myers, Jesse Dunford-Wood and many more from across the country and around the world who have each gone on to open their own successful restaurants.

Charlie Trotter the knowledge center lives on as a hub for youth engagement, programming and events. None of this is possible without generous donations from lovers of the culinary community who believe, like Chef Trotter, “One of the most beautiful things that I can do for you—or that any one of us can do for another—is to serve each other.”