From the Tempest In a Teapot Desk at Grub Street Chicago, sponsor of our league champion Inside Baseball team, comes word that Charlie Trotter has unexpectedly done something outrageous, and there is outrage! Yesterday, according to a tweet from Tribune reporter Mark Caro, "Charlie Trotter kicked me out of his restaurant today while I was checking out his auction’s preview." Good God! Is he insane, or merely out of his mind? Chicagoist talked to Caro, in whose mouth Plugra apparently would not melt: "We did have a good relationship. Aside from providing the impetus for (Caro’s book) The Foie Gras Wars, he sat down with me for a couple of long interviews for my Tribune series and also let me follow up on the phone so I could give him the chance to respond to anything that had been said about him. I hadn’t heard from him since the three-parter ran in August." Well, pardon us if we’re not only not shocked that this happened… we kind of suspect Mark Caro isn’t, either.
We’re not going to rehash our opinion of Caro’s three part series but while there were many good examples of reporting in it, if we were Trotter, we’d have ended it pretty steamed that a major daily spent three days calling me a terrible boss and had comparatively little to say about what I’d accomplished. (Even if you don’t agree with that take on the article, it is a universal rule that subjects see any piece about themselves only in terms of whatever’s negative in it, no matter how small— and it was not small here.)
In fact we are not Trotter in three notable ways: we are not retiring, we are not richer than God, and we are not free of ever needing the favor of the media ever again. In short, Charlie Trotter is pretty much the freest man on earth when it comes to telling reporters who ticked him off to go screw themselves.
Could Caro not have known that when he walked into Trotter’s restaurant for Trotter’s auction of Trotter’s life’s work? Could Caro really have believed that famously prickly Trotter had looked at a three-day catalogue of his faults and thought, "Hmm, not bad"? Could he really have believed that Trotter would never forceably eject a reporter from the august Tribune? Hardly— since Trotter had ejected another well-known Trib food writer, from the kitchen table no less, some months back. One advantage of holding your funeral while you’re still alive is that you can decide who gets to attend yourself. As former Trotter employee/Chicago Food Snob blogger Joe Campagna put it this morning on Twitter:
For those surprised or shocked by what happened at CT with Mark Caro yesterday - you don’t know chef.
A spokesperson for Trotter declined comment.