Rochelle Smith Trotter, the wife of Charlie Trotter–Chicago-based restaurateur and one of the nation’s top chefs–has tasted plenty of her own success. The former public relations exec is making big waves as owner of R’Culinaire, a culinary consulting firm that works with developers, hoteliers, and chefs throughout the world. Recently, she traveled to Abu Dhabi and Shanghai to help coordinate a food conference and investigate development options for television. The busy Trotter, who wed last year in the Maldives, takes time out to talk to UPTOWN about her fair city.
SEEN AND SCENE: Trotter loves live music; adores the opera (particularly the Lyric Opera of Chicago); enjoys listening to her friends, vocalist Dianne Reeves and pianist Andre Watts, at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; hits summer shows at Ravinia Pavilion; and has a penchant for soulful, bluesy crooning . “Jazz is wonderful,” she says, “but let’s keep it real: Blues is what Chicago is all about!” Late night, she and Charlie can often be found at The Back Room jazz club.
STYLE PROFILE: A black Armani pantsuit, a white Oscar de la Renta blouse, Christian Louboutin pumps, black pearls, and vintage jewelry is a fashion formula that works for Trotter. “LuLu’s at the Bell Kay is my favorite vintage spot. I have a weakness for gorgeous earrings and bracelets.”
FLAIR NO MATTER WHAT YOU WEAR: “Having lived in Paris, I gained a new appreciation for everyday dressing,” says Trotter. “The women in Europe have a sense of confidence and femininity that is magnificent no matter what they wear. Style is as much about confidence as the actual pieces you wear. I’ve worn a dress from T.J.Maxx with a six-figure piece of jewelry and the look worked.”
CATCHING UP WITH ROCHELLE: Trotter is constantly on the go, but fitness is a key to her happiness. “You’ll find me working out at the 24-hour XSport Fitness, which [is perfect] for my busy, nontraditional schedule,” she says. And we wouldn’t expect the culinary insider to eat just anywhere. “For power breakfasts, you’ll find me at the Peninsula Hotel in The Lobby restaurant. When I have an important lunch meeting, I’ll go to RL restaurant off Michigan Avenue. Of course, for intimate dinners, I dine at my husband’s restaurant in Lincoln Park, Charlie Trotter’s.”