Chef Charlie Trotter did not die of ruptured brain aneurysm, wife says

After an inconclusive autopsy Thursday, the search for the cause of death of pioneering Chicago chef Charlie Trotter continues. But his wife says he did not die as a result of a ruptured brain aneurysm.

That possibility was floated by friends who revealed after his death on Tuesday that the 54-year-old Trotter had been diagnosed with an aneurysm and that his doctor had warned him against flying, which could rupture it.

Trotter spent the weekend at a culinary conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo., flying there and back. But his wife, Rochelle Trotter, says that was not connected to his death.

PHOTOS: Charlie Trotter

“In January, Charlie was treated for a seizure as a result of an aneurysm, which was discovered at that time,” Rochelle Trotter said in a statement Friday morning. “His doctors prescribed the proper medication to control seizures, his blood pressure and high cholesterol, and he was seen by a number of medical experts, who cleared him to travel.

“He returned home from his most recent trip Monday night without incident.  The autopsy indicates that his travel is not connected to his death."

Trotter was the founder of the eponymous Chicago restaurant that during the 1980s and 1990s was frequently mentioned as being among the best in the world. He was named the best chef in the country by the James Beard Foundation in 1999. And Wine Spectator magazine declared Charlie Trotter’s the best restaurant in the country in 2000.

The last year had been difficult for Trotter. In August, he was slammed in the media for allegedly having gotten angry with a group of high school art students who were using the restaurant space as a gallery. Last December, he also pulled the plug on the public auction of some of the contents of his restaurant when bids did not meet his expectations. And in June, he was sued by a group of wine collectors who paid more than $46,000 for a single bottle from the restaurant cellar at auction and later found it to be counterfeit.

“This is obviously a difficult time as we are still processing our grief," his wife said in the statement. "As his family and I focus upon putting Charlie’s body to rest, we hope that this will settle the inaccuracies that have been reported and we can move forward in honoring Charlie’s life on Monday.  We ask for your patience and continued respect of our privacy.”


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