Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013 | 2:28 p.m.
Chef Charlie Trotter
I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to acknowledge today’s tragic, far-too-early death of 54-year-old culinary genius Charlie Trotter. Chicago Fire Department paramedics found him dead in the Windy City. For 17 years, the renowned chef, beloved by his colleagues worldwide for his food excellence, had a Chicago restaurant that was regarded as one of the finest in the world.
I remember taking talk-show host Jerry Springer there for dinner, and we were absolutely dazzled by his brilliance with his fabulous food creations, which I’d often filmed. Charlie also operated his fine-dining establishment Restaurant Charlie at Palazzo from 2008 to 2010, and I enjoyed many a fantastic meal there with my chef friend.
He won a string of amazing culinary awards and was hailed by his peers not just as one of the best chefs ever in America but also one of the most charitably generous. He married his longtime girlfriend Rochelle Smith in 2010 and sent me an iPhone wedding photo from the Maldives to share with Vegas DeLuxe readers.
He was described today by chef Graham Elliot, who judges chef Gordon Ramsay’s “Master Chef” and is opening a branch of his Chicago restaurant here in Las Vegas, as a “mentor, trailblazer, philosopher, artist, teacher and leader.”
Charlie opened a restaurant at MGM Grand, Charlie Trotter’s, in late 1994, which, ahead of its time, operated for about a year before the hotel began renovating and redeveloping its restaurant program, leading to its closing.
Charlie appeared in the 1997 Julia Roberts’ comedy hit “My Best Friend’s Wedding” in a parody of a screaming and angry chef, yelling at his assistant, “I will kill your whole family if you don’t get this right! I need this perfect.”
He was a brilliant self-taught chef who penned 14 incredible cookbooks and closed his Chicago restaurant in August 2012 in order to pursue a master’s degree in political science and his desire to travel.
I know that he’ll already be organizing a superb restaurant up in heaven above where the Good Lord and Mother Nature will have the first reservations already booked.
Rest in peace, my friend. You were and always will be one in a million. God bless you — and especially Rochelle at this very sad, difficult and most unexpected time.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.
Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
With top accommodations, first-rate entertainment, high-end shopping and a slew of acclaimed chefs, the Palazzo has positioned itself as one of the most luxurious resorts on the Strip.
More than 3,000 all-suite rooms start at 740 square feet and are decorated in a modern, yet classic, Italian style. Each room features a sleeping area, with a king or two queens, and a sunken living room area with floor to ceiling windows.
A cathedral ceiling tops the Palazzo casino, while a second 80-foot dome brings natural light to the property's lobby. The 105,000 square foot casino features more than 2,000 slots and 80 table games but lacks the stale smell of cigarettes, as the property is LEED certified with smoking off limits in most of the Palazzo — including 50 percent of the casino floor.
Dining at the Palazzo is among the best of the Strip, starting with Wolfgang Puck's CUT. Chef Simon To serves up authentic Chinese cuisine at Zine, while Sushisamba combines Brazilian and Peruvian flavors with Japanese techniques. At LAVO, club-goers can dine on Mediterranean dishes before heading upstairs to the bath house-inspired nightclub.
MGM Grand, a AAA Four Diamond resort, offers 5,044 rooms and suites.
MGM Grand features KÀ by Cirque du Soleil; Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club; and world-class entertainment at the Grand Garden Arena and Hollywood Theatre.
The resort offers signature restaurants by celebrity chefs including Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak, Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans Fish House, Wolfgang Puck’s Bar & Grill and Michelin three star and Forbes Five Star restaurant, Joël Robuchon.
As part of its ongoing “Grand Renovation,” MGM Grand has remodeled all rooms and suites in its main tower and is adding several new experiences to its lineup including Hakkasan Las Vegas Restaurant and Nightclub, a new upscale dining/nightlife concept (coming in April 2013).
MGM Grand also features a state-of-the-art, non-smoking conference center, the Grand Spa, Cristophe Salon, "CSI: The Experience" and an inviting pool complex featuring the tantalizing daylife of Wet Republic.
Upscale accommodations include The Mansion, an exclusive hotel within the hotel; the luxurious two-story SKYLOFTS at MGM Grand; and The Signature at MGM Grand, a luxury all-suite, non-gaming hotel located adjacent to the main resort.