©1995 Paul Elledge
I am extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to collaborate on many projects with Chef Trotter. The Chef’s creativity was an accelerant that lit the fire of many great people, careers and ideas. His energy and drive for excellence was not only an inspiration to me, but also to the many crews and the staff that have worked with me.I created work with Charlie Trotter for almost 20 years. Whether it be for magazine assignments, book projects, videos or even menu cover art for his restaurant. The image I share today is not the first image I ever made, nor is it the most known image I ever took of him. This image is the one that brought me into his world of creativity and now I will tell you why.
This image was created for an editorial assignment. I had made portraits of Chef Trotter prior, but this time something was different. For some reason unknown to me, during this particular photo shoot I was tested. Yes, tested… Chef interviewed me, and asked me in depth questions on the history of art including contemporary photographers. He wanted to know my point of view, my opinions, and criticism on a number of artists. He was relentless in his pursuit of my thoughts. To top it off, this all was happening as I was making his portrait.
I have never lacked an opinion and sometimes to a fault have always expressed myself freely. That being said, I did not hold back and shared in great detail why and what I thought on each artist, photographer or great work of art he challenged me with. It was a classic experience that I came to witness often in the years that followed. Charlie Trotter liked to challenge, he liked to push, he liked to see where and what one stood for. It was also important for him to know the why behind it as well. Once he got an idea of it, he then liked to challenge you further to see what the commitment level was to your thinking. There was always a sparkle in his eye as the challenge unfolded. It fueled his energy.
Fortunately, our aesthetics lined up and after this monumental portrait session we started collaborating together more frequently. This collaboration was a life and career changing experience for me that has never been taken lightly.
Working with Chef Trotter opened up a new world of creativity for me. He gave me many platforms where I could share my ideas. Through him, I was introduced to many of the best and brightest minds in the world. Through him, I learned about the culinary world and what tasting was all about. He expanded my horizons and for that I will be forever grateful.
Thank you Charlie Trotter for all that you did for me, and for the world that you opened up to me. RIP…