Food lovers world over have been in a state of shock over Charlie Trotter's sudden death today at age 54. Although his eponymous restaurant, Charlie Trotter's, closed in August 2012, when it first opened in 1987, the restaurant paved the way for American fine-dining standards in a multitude of ways: by setting the standard for a new class of chef-owned restaurants, never offering the same menu twice, and exposing diners to the possibilities of vegetarian degustation menus.
Though immensely talented, Trotter "never quite cracked the code of how to expand his brand," the New York Times acknowledged in an article on the chef in 2011. But he managed to do something even more extraordinary: with his vision, he fostered a new legion of chefs who would go on to set the standard in gastronomy today. Though known as a perfectionist tyrant — his control-freak demands were the stuff of legend — his stubborn temper no doubt instilled technique and ethic in some of America's greatest toques today, so his legacy will surely live on. Here, a look at a sampling of nationally-renowned chefs who were also Trotter alumni.