Understanding Chef Charlie Trotter

Chef TrotterThe Chefs Table

Charlie Trotter has inspired chefs, students, home cooks, foodies, etc around the world.  I remember when his first series of cookbooks were released.  I was a line cook at Aureole working for “the other Charlie”   The Charlie Trotter cookbook was filled with inspiration.  He demonstrated a whole new approach to cooking, presentation, ingredients and food combinations.  Instantly we were all trying and copying these new culinary ideas.

My first chef position was at Silks at the Mandarin.  At this restaurant I got to work with one of the most inspiring sommeliers I have ever known.  Renee Nicole Kubin.  She came to work at Silks from Trotters in Chicago.  She was part of Trotters opening team working under Larry Stone.  Because of Renee Nicole I finally started to understand fine cuisine.  As the chef of a restaurant there is a natural sense of arrogance and importance that comes with the job.  Renee Nicole was the only person in the restaurant that would talk back to me. (but in proper manner)  I would always listen because I was learning.  She would always share Trotter experience insights to every culinary situation that arose.  I would sometimes get angry, but I would always listen.  I remember once she corrected me on which garniture should be served with caviar traditionally.  She was right, chives was not one of them.  So I threw the dish against the wall above her head.  Was that Kitchen aggravation or craziness?  or passion just like Chef Trotter?

Chef Trotter was an extremely passionate chef.  Every conversation I had with him was always about Food, culinary adventures or Jazz, his other passion.  Many times his passion, excitement to share was miss interpreted as arrogance.  I interpreted it as inspiration.

The first time I actually met Chef Trotter I was in Chicago for a charity event for 2 days.  The first night we were there we ate Trotters.  The chefs tasting menu that lasted until 2:00 am.

I was treated like royalty.  He graciously invited us back to eat the following night for a special dinner in honor of the late Chef Patrick Clark.  the next night we went to eat 7 courses at a friends restaurant, then went to Trotters for 12 more courses.  Another evening that ended at 2:oo am in Trotters watching the cooks clean the entire kitchen.

My next chef position was for Nobu in Milan Italy, another culinary adventure for myself.  One afternoon my wife called up to the kitchen, and said that Charlie Trotter is here to see you.  This was a day I would never forget.   This was a true episode of iron chef.  I was not prepared to make lunch for one of the greatest chefs in the world that day.  He was one of the most important guests we have ever served there in my opinion.  At the end of their meal I enjoyed a glass of wine with Chef and Rochelle his girlfriend at the time.

The next time I called upon Chef Trotter, I was working on my cookbook ( which is still not completed).  I had the honor of having Chef Charlie Trotter write the forward to my future cookbook.  Now under the circumstances I am compelled even more to get it finished.  There has been financial, and health struggles along the way, but now I am back on track.  Any time I would see Chef Trotter, he would always ask how is the book coming along?  So Chef now its in writing the book is coming along!

My final encounter and most memorable with Chef Trotter was at the final evening of his great restaurant Trotters.  when we heard the news of his closing we hurriedly called and made reservations.   Some how we were the last chef table in the kitchen, on the last evening, the last service.  Amazing.  I brought my friend, and chef Torsten Schulz, and our wifes.

When we walked into the kitchen everyone starred wondering who would be sitting at the last chefs table.  Well it was us, 2 couples from Cleveland Ohio whom flown in to pay homage to this great American Chef.  We ate 17 courses and once again we were one of the last tables to leave the restaurant.  We did many pictures with the staff and Chef Trotter.  Outside we walked and talked a minute.  Chef Trotter showed me the street sign that the city posted in honor of his great restaurant of 25 years.

Chef Trotter is a unique one of kind culinary inspiration.  Just to sit in his kitchen, and watch extreme team work, was unforgettable.  I watched the valet wash dishes, the hostess serve food, the cooks explain the dishes table-side, perfect service, perfection in all the details.  Chef Trotter set a bar that I strive continually to achieve.

I think some of the biggest misunderstandings was watching him on tv in the later days involving the closing of his restaurant.  I saw an artists frustration with spectators that just couldn’t comprehend or respect his years of works of art.  He was a giving man always teaching, guiding, directing the next culinary generation.

Thanks for the example and the inspiration.chat on the street

The Robb Report Culinary Masters Competition

Mentor and Protégé

Mentor and Protégé

A Classic Dante Restaurant Dish

A Classic Dante Restaurant Dish

The Menu

Hors d‘oeuvres

Caviar in a Cloud

Truffled Mortadella Panino

Gnocchette “Black and Blue”, Gorganzola Cream

Sushi Push Pops

Banana and Butternut Squash Cappuccino

Hamachi Crudo

tempura avocado, ponzu foam, yuzu


Roasted Sea Scallop and Comice Pears

lobster spring roll, ginger butter sauce


Risotto “alla Carbonara”

soft poached quail egg, truffled puree, pancetta


3 Preparations of Muscovy Duck

coriander crusted breast, confit legs, foie gras mousse

port honey glazed figs, toasted basamati rice


Open Apple Strudel

vanilla sorbet, walnut struessel

The Taste of Tremont, July 15, featuring The Taste of Dante

The Taste of Dante

Hitachino Beer Tasting Menu May 3 – May 10

Food $75,   Beer $25 Per Person

Menu available from May 3rd thru May 10th

  1. Santen Mori (combination of 3) ……………………………..Lacto Sweet Stout

Nanohana Mentai-Sauce

(edible flowers, spicy codfish roe )

Chikuwa with cucumber  (tube shaped fish cake)

Shio-Tofu  (salt marinated tofu cheese)

  1. Sunomono Moriawase ……………………………………………Red Rice

Seaweed Cucumber Salad with Shrimp, Crab, Octopus and Ponzu

  1. Tako-Karaage and Mitake Tempura……………………………….XH

Crispy Fried Octopus and Tempura Fried Mushroom

  1. Cha-Soba Yamakake……………………………………………….White Ale

Chilled Green Tea Noodle and Yamaimo (mashed yam)

  1. Otsukuri Moriawase (sashimi combination) ……………..Ginger Beer
  2. Sushi (nigiri) Moriawase…………………………………………Cedar Ale
  3. Chocolate Purin with Salted Sesame Foam……………. Espresso Stout


Dogfish Head Beer Dinner, February 1st









Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Dinner

Wednesday February 1st


House Cured & Smoked Salmon

pumpernickel crumbs, beet coulis

My Antonia, Imperial Pilsner 7%ABV


Pearl Jam  “PJ20 Tribute”

Garden… from 10

Roasted and Raw Root Vegetables

currants, arugula, mustard vinaigrette

Faithful, Belgium Style Golden Ale with Currants 7%ABV


Peppered Quail with Persimmons

pancetta risotto, candy cap mushroom dust

India brown ale 7.2ABV


Robert Johnson 100 Year Anniversary Beer

Coffee Crusted Veal Tenderloin

sunchoke puree, tempura shallots

Hell hound on My Ale, Double IPA with Lemon Zest 10%ABV


Milk Chocolate “Pot de Crème”

bitter sweet, rice crispies

Chicory Stout, 5.2% ABV

New Years Eve at DANTE Restaurant

ala Carte Menu available


5  Courses Menu $75 with wine $120

7  Course Menu $100 with wine $145

Open Strudel of Wild Mushrooms and Machenzie Goat Cheese

Mirabelle, Schramsberg, Napa Valley

Tuna and Salmon Poke

Semillon, Sauvingon Blanc, Chateau, Chantegrive, Graves

Uova da Raviolo

Chardonnay, Bouchard Pere & Fils, Burgundy, France

Roasted Dayboat Scallops and Foie Gras

Voignier, Mcmanis Vineyards, California

Pepper Crusted Duck Breast

Merlot, Atrium, Miguel Torres, Spain

Veal Tenderloin Tonnato

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Riserva, Crociani, Toscana

Citrus Celebration

Chocolate Tasting

Recioto della Valpolicella


Italian Cooking Class @ DANTE Restaurant, Saturday November 19th


10:30am – 12:30pm

The class features 3 dishes, wine and cheese from the region.

The class is $35 per person.

To reserve a spot call 917 660 5334 or email centroldv@gmail.com

Grand Canal View from Accademia Bridge

Ohio Wine Dinner June 21st.

Celebrate Summer Solstice with a 5 course Vegetarian Menu

Featuring LAURELLO WINES  from the Grand River Valley

Tuesday June 21st.  7 pm   $69


arugula, lemon confit, cardamom



pickled and seared watermelon, lemon thyme



candied pecans and honeydew melon



potato basil gratin, roasted eggplant puree



toasted coconut, pineapple and margarita sorbet

Best New Restaurant


DANTE restaurant has been nominated for

Best New Restaurant of 2010 by METROMIX CLEVELAND

cast your vote and show support at



check out the new Scene Magazine we were pick as one of

25 restaurants that Cleveland can’t live without.

Thank you everyone for your support.

Valentines Day Menu available Saturday, Sunday, and Monday

February is the Month for Lovers

We will be serving as special Valentine’s Day Tasting Menu in addition to our regular menu all weekend long.

The menu will be available Saturday the 12th, Sunday the 13th and Monday the 14th.

lovebirds.jpgValentine’s Day Menu for Lovers
5 Course Tasting Menu $65
With Wine Pairings $100 per person

Ahi Tuna Carpaccio
Tempura shittake, black tobbiko caviar, yuzu vinaigrette
Grecco di Tufo, Terredora di Paolo, Campagnia Italy, 2008

Pan Seared Louisiana Redfish
Green curry, braised napa cabbage and green apple
Sauvignon Blanc, Chateau Chantegrive, Bordeaux France, 2007

Truffled Poached Lobster and Scallops
Carnaroli risotto, cauliflower froth
Chardonnay Sean Minor, Central Coast, 2009

Roasted Beef Ribeye and Braised Ribs
Potato mushroom gratin, braised romaine lettuce
Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Syrah, Sangiovese, Pazzo, Napa Valley, 2006

Passion Fruit Tartlet, Navel Orange Brûlé

“Menage a Tois”
A Dessert Threesome Involving Chocolate
Dow’s Porto, NV, Douro Valley Vinayards