Charlie Trotter chef and author of a dozen cookbooks, passed away on Tuesday, “had a huge impact not just on our family farm but on small family farms in America,” persisted Central Florida’s favorite Microgreens farmer Marvin Wilhite. We as a Foodie Nation look at plant-based entrees differently today thanks to Charlie Trotter who pushed for and voiced to our Nation what is available and the way we should prepare them in ways that had never been considered before.
Before chefs in our Nation knew about the healthy aspects of Microgreens, chefs asked, ‘Why didn’t you let it grow up?” What are you doing picking them so young?’ When Charlie said he would like to have healthy-conscious baby greens that were young and tender but, full of flavor and is different than what anybody else is doing, micro-farms like Cahaba Club Herbal Outpost were born.
Trotter was worn-out with using mesclun (the salad mix of baby lettuces), baby arugula, young chervil and assorted endives that were ubiquitous in the ’80s, and needed something new that would blow his customers away. Before Charlie there wasn’t an example of a chef using immature food products. He really pioneered it. Growing specialty microgreens and microherbs for the premiere chefs, not just micro-lettuces and heirloom tomatoes, baby squash, baby carrots, golden pea tendrils grown in the dark grew from with Charlie’s need to surprise his guests with every plate.
On a small 10 acre microgreens farm just outside of Tampa, Florida, Cahaba Club grows more than 30 individual micro-greens and micro-herbs, as well as small heirloom vegetables, specialty baby lettuces and edible flowers. This is the house that Charlie would have built himself to supply his quintessential eateries around the world. Trotter challenged us to grow things.
There have been a lot of farms that watched what chef Trotter did over the years and grew stylistic foods that he required. He has done more to influence American agriculture than any other chef.
His constant philosophy of the pursuit of excellence, he was constantly searching and pushing for what had never been considered before: the flowers of vegetables (garlic blossoms and carrots make a beautiful flower), rather than the root of a plant that had traditionally been grown for cookery.
Trotter worked closely with the farms like those akin to Cahaba Club Herbal Outpost. This teamwork built an industry that has endured for more than two decades.