Workin' More Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter

Buy Now
Ten Speed Press

General Information

In 1956, Miles Davis’s legendary quintet went into the studio for a series of marathon recording sessions. The resulting albums, including Workin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet, are among the most influential in the jazz canon. Just over 30 years later, chef Charlie Trotter began staging his own nightly sessions, bringing the art of improvisation into the kitchen of his Chicago restaurant. Trotter continues to take inspiration from the jazz greats, using his mastery of tastes and textures to fashion brilliant, daring culinary compositions out of an ensemble of the finest ingredients. Trotter’s award-winning PBS cooking show, The Kitchen Sessions, first presented the chef’s artistry to home cooks around the country, and now he’s back with a new 26-part series. In the companion volume, Trotter presents more than 80 recipes, arranged by ingredient themes that are fundamental to his cooking. Trotter sounds off the bass notes of root vegetables and squash in such dishes as Salsify Wrapped with Serrano Ham and Phyllo with Pears and Roasted Endive, and Zucchini and Duck Confit Gratin with Hazelnut Vinaigrette. He celebrates the summer bounty of corn and tomatoes through Halibut with Red Wine–Corn Sauce and Grits, and Tomato Tarts with White Anchovies and Caper Vinaigrette. For the last course, Trotter puts the spotlight on cheese desserts such as Honey Mascarpone Cannoli with Pine Nuts and Mint, and then presents a generous selection of chocolate- and fruit-based desserts. Workin' captures one of the world's most innovative chefs at the top of his form. Never have the results been more beautiful to behold and accessible to the avid home cook.


Sari Zernich
Dewey Decimal Number
Ten Speed Press
List Price
Ten Speed Press
Number Of Items
Number Of Pages
Product Group
Product Type Name
Publication Date
Ten Speed Press
Ten Speed Press
Workin' More Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter
Release Date
Paul Elledge

Latest reviews

While fixing quesadillas, burgers and goat cheese puffs at a nightclub in Pittsburgh, I had the most fortunate happenstance of taking in some great jazz music. Na'jee was there. The Rippingtons and Russ Freeman. Pat Metheney. All of the headliners were glorious musicians that created beautiful music. I have always been a fan of classic rock, but when these jazz bands took the stage, the energy was almost tangible you could feel each note, see the colors coming from the speakers and hear their imagination at work. Rock is great for a long drive and for drinking icy cold beer around the barbecue pit, but jazz speaks in its own language.

One night, one very special night, the Yellowjackets were to play. I was in the kitchen at the club when they were doing their set-up and sound check. I can easily relive the tension in the air these larger-than-life musicians with all their cool came breezing in like ordinary Joes. They didn't bark commands to the runners for tubs of particular colored M&ampMs or require some exotic Champagne to spill all over their dressing rooms. Rather, the sound check was uneventful with the exception of when they all finished taking their turn with the "check, check, one, two, testing" and had the opportunity to put something in the air as a band. They played with the grace of Degauss' ballerinas floating across the stage. Each note hung in the air, but also moved with razor-sharp precision exacting, surprising and exciting. One note, one riff, one beat followed the one before and I couldn't wait for the next one in the chamber to speed from the barrel. Sometimes the music was what was expected as it smoothly transitioned into the next movement. Sometimes the movement clashed against the previous measure or two like a three year-old in a linen shop with cotton candy and caramel apple fingers. It didn't hurt, but I remembering wondering "why did they do that?" But, when they brought it all together, you can see that the three year-old was well behaved with no malicious intentions. So, that is jazz.

Jazz, it is said, is the only unique art form in this country. Agree, don't agree, but you have to give jazz the respect it so rightfully deserves. It is a marriage of manners and discourse. It is harmony and bedlam. It is organization and chaos all strung together for our listening pleasure. And pleasure, like that found in jazz, can be found on oil and acrylic-laden canvases, in dog-eared books, in the poetry on the notebook cover of an angst-riddled teenager or in the glistening swirl of a Ritz-Carlton made Godiva Chocolate martini. Of course, if we approach unique American art with both eyes open, Charlie Trotter's palate must be part of that same lexicon of love.

It is no coincidence that Charlie Trotter's latest, Workin', opens with a bow to Miles Davis, Coltrane and Monk, among others. There is music, great harmony, if you will, in fantastic food. There is food that makes me sing. I certainly would not cause risk to your dining pleasure by breaking into a spontaneous verse or two of "Oklahoma!" But, a remarkable meal always pushes me to spout about the experience to anybody willing (or not so willing) to listen. The elements of jazz are very similar to what Charlie Trotter dishes up. Jazz really is improvisation the unscripted, inspired, colorful rendition of music as your spirit interprets it. Charlie Trotter's food is much of the same. Sometimes he comes from left field with a "what is he thinking" blended with a "oh, I see" and a spike of "that is really cool!" Improvisation? Maybe. Inspired. You bet!

But all music doesn't have to be funky to be over the top. It should be pleasant and anticipated, like the Yellowjackets "The Spin." Each flavor wants to support the next like the rhythm of each bar of music. It builds, with each bite, and sometimes, comes to a glistening al fine.

Trotter's Apple and Aged Cheddar Cheese Soufflé is all that is right with food.  There is nothing mind-blowing about the classic combination of Cheddar and Apples (and baseball). The fat of cheese smacks up against the fruity acidity of the apple and magic happens. But Trotter takes it from elevator music to jazz. The infusion of rosemary bucks against the cinnamon to create a beautiful, tasty syncopation. The flavors are all married together in a lusty composition with the Apple-Pecan sauce. Yum!

Workin' is a confabulation of Trotter's inspired madness and food genius. Wild Mushroom Lasagna with Arugula Pesto is a straightforward riff of layered pasta spiked with balsamic vinegar where you wouldn't expect to find balsamic vinegar. The Three-Potato Salad with White Truffle Mayonnaise and Preserved Celery and Radishes is, at first glance, too much of an eclectic amalgam. But, when the melody fills the room, there is a definite peace found within. The celery and radish are complimentary and the white truffles, well, let you know that Charlie Trotter's pen and palate are behind the recipe.

Ultimately, whether you like jazz or, rather, whether you understand jazz is as personal as, well, if you appreciate Charlie Trotter's genius. The same could be said for Charlie Parker, an eclectic force in jazz, as Trotter is the same to food. Parker's compositions are classics that reflect the mastery of his instrument and his timelessness keeps his music as exciting as when it first came from his saxophone. Are Charlie Trotter's recipes classics? Or are they compositions to call his own?
This tome is not like his previous works Workin' does not mirror his Vegetables or Seafood or even Trotter Cooks at Home. It is said that for each musician to keep fresh, he reinvents himself with every note. Does Charlie Trotter reinvent himself with each recipe, with each note? More importantly, the question remains, does he need to reinvent himself? Perhaps, Trotter's Workin' is the jazz you need, but just don't know it yet.


There are no comments to display.

Item information

Added by
Last update
3.00 star(s) 1 ratings

More in Cookbooks

More from CvP

Share this item

Top Bottom