Celebrity chef death: autopsy inconclusive

Award-winning chef Charlie Trotter.Photo / AP
Award-winning chef Charlie Trotter.Photo / AP

An autopsy conducted on celebrated chef Charlie Trotter was inconclusive, but officials have found no evidence of foul play or trauma.

The Cook County medical examiner's office said in a statement on Wednesday that it will conduct additional tests, including a toxicology analysis, to try and determine a cause of death. The results could take six and eight weeks.

An ambulance was called to Trotter's home about 10.45am on Tuesday after Trotter's son Dylan found him unresponsive, according to a police report. Trotter was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The family told police that Trotter was taking medication for seizures, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He had flown to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, against doctors' orders to address a culinary conference on Sunday night, according to the reports.

"He got on a plane this weekend and his son found him unresponsive this morning," a police report stated.

The son told police Trotter was on the couch, watching television, when he got home shortly before midnight on Monday, according to the police report. The son said he woke the next day and saw his father still on the couch, unresponsive, the report said.

Larry Stone, Trotter's longtime sommelier and friend, said "it was obvious he had problems and he had some seizures. It's a condition that had worsened in the last few years but it was something he had for quite a while."

But Trotter was not the type of person to ask for sympathy, Stone said.

"He said when your time comes, it comes; he didn't dwell on it," Stone said. "I don't think it made him very happy to know that he had a condition that would incapacitate him in some way. ... He never wanted anything to interfere with his craft."

Susan Thulin, director of Central Wyoming College that had sponsored the weekend conference, said Trotter arrived on Sunday and left early on Monday.

Richard Ofstein, a radiologist who attended the Jackson Hole conference, said he noticed Trotter's left hand was shaking as he held the microphone, but didn't think more about it.

Trotter's wife, Rochelle, released a statement on Tuesday evening saying the family was "incredibly shocked and deeply saddened by the unexpected loss of Charlie at our home in Lincoln Park. He was much loved, and words can not describe how much he will be missed. Charlie was a trailblazer and introduced people to a new way of dining when he opened Charlie Trotter's. His impact upon American cuisine and the culinary world at large will always be remembered."

- MCT

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