In what he is declaring as his “final work for Newcity,” Michael Nagrant will spend the next two months counting down Chicago’s top 50 “food and drink influencers.” Dubbed “The Big Heat,” each day he’ll discuss the impact of a specific chef, before finally unveiling the winner on August 25. As he admits from the very beginning, things have changed dramatically since the publishing of the first list in 2003; namely, only ten chefs remain from the first roundup. As something of a mission statement, he began the project on Monday with Charlie Trotter at #50.
Trotter hasn’t exactly had the most triumphant past eight years, and Nagrant even ceremoniously left him off Newcity’s Chicago’s Essential Restaurants in 2009. So why does he include him here? Though he definitely mentions many of the reasons why he isn’t higher, Nagrant finally admits that, in the end, Trotter “made this cow town into a chow town and for that alone he belongs on this list.” He also claims that every other chef “stands on his shoulders.”
The Big Heat: Who really cooks in Chicago’s food world [Newcity Resto]