Having More Than One Calling

Jeremy Hobson: It’s great to have you here, but tell us why you’re quitting. Why are you hanging up the chef’s hat?

Charlie Trotter: Well hold on, sailor — I’m not quitting anything. I’m actually closing the restaurant after 25 years. Five years of learning the craft and the business, and then now come August, 25 years of running it, I thought it’s time to return to academia. Nothing more than that.

Hobson: But I mean, you’re one of the greatest chefs in the world. Isn’t this your calling?

Trotter: Well, I’ve got a lot of callings. You can’t just limit it to one. Five years ago, I almost did this. I almost said at 20 years, maybe I should do something that I’ve always wanted to do, which is return to the great books and continue to study philosophy and political theory and things that I love. So can’t really do that and run a business at the same time. It really boils down to that.

Charlie Trotter, a 52-year-old world renowned chef, is closing his famous Chicago restaurant to go back to school to get a master’s degree and travel the world. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1982 with a degree in political science, and wants to get back into that field of study. I love the idea that you can have more than one calling, and that you can chase more than one dream when the time is right. Perhaps Charlie will decide to become a writer one day, and I’ll become a chef. Maybe I’ll make documentary films! Who knows what our calling will be 25 years from now.

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