Carnivale du Vin Wine Auction – Charlie “Mr. Humility” Trotter Strikes Again

So here’s what happened last night (recounted through the wooly head of someone who tried to drink all the Au Bon Climat in the house):

The auction started, and almost from the get go, the lots were going for north of $25-$30,000.

Most of these “lots” consisted of a travel package (including lots of private jet or first-class tickets) for you and 6-8-10 of your friends to stay in some fancy digs (or a California winemaker’s home), get lots of bottles of top shelf wine, and be cooked for by some famous celebrity chef — sometimes over multiple days.

We tried to twitter as these impressive bids were being made, but the Venetian Ballroom was not cell phone friendly (at least not to our iPhone).

We weren’t keeping track, but if the fourteen or so lots went for an average of 40k/package, the Emeril Lagasse Foundation had to take in at least half a mil from the auction alone.

Throughout the bidding, all we kept mumbling to ourselves was: “The recession must be over.”

Keep in mind, when yours truly was the auctioneer for a (much smaller) James Beard Foundation Charity Auction exactly a year ago, we couldn’t coax the crowd into bidding hundreds of dollars for much of anything.

Sensing our failing (and trying to help) at the end of the auction last year, Charlie Trotter lept onto the stage and offered to personally cook and entertain 6 people at his home. There were no takers if memory serves.

At the end of the auction last night, as things were winding down, Trotter again took the stage, and grabbed the mike.

His first words were: “Enough of this bullshit.” (He wasn’t smiling. Charlie Trotter doesn’t smile a lot. He sort of grins, occasionally.)

The raucous crowd (of over a thousand) fell silent. Emeril looked stunned.

Trotter then began his ramble about how he was going to top everyone with his donation. About thirty seconds in, he stopped, looked at Emeril standing at stage left, and said: “Emeril, come here…come here! “

Emeril walked towards him with all the zeal he must feel when visiting the cardiologist.

“Now kiss me on the lips….on the lips!

The point of this was unclear to ELV and everyone else (including poor Emeril) at the time.

Emeril didn’t exactly comply with the enthusiasm of someone who’d been down this road before, and just sorta stood there whilst CT planted a big one on him.

More squirming, more silence. You might say it was deafening. Madonna and Britney it was not.

Undaunted, and perhaps more than a little lubricated, CT proceeded to tell everyone how he would cook for a crowd, personally, at his house, if the bidding got bold.

“I’ll personally cook for you and your friends at my house,” he said, and then, again, he stopped himself.

“No, NO….it’s a fucking MANSION! I live in a MANSION. Okay, excuse my language, but I’ll cook for you at my MANSION!”

At this point ELV took another drink (something Trotter didn’t need), and didn’t know what to be more embarrassed about: The size of Charlie’s ego, his profane rambling, the size of his house …er…MANSION!….or how it felt to be poor, hapless Emeril up there.

Cooler heads eventually wrested the microphone from him, and a bunch of charitable folks (Emeril, Mario, Larry Ruvo, Larry Stone, et al) kept piling addenda on Trotter’s residential largesse until the crowd stopped squirming. And gosh darn it if the final bid for the ultimate tour of Chez Trotter didn’t go for 180,000 clams.

Which is a lot o’ lettuce.

That we’re sure Charlie’s mansion can hold. Just ask him.

ELV is inspired to haiku:

Bombastic Trotter

Raises cash for Emeril

Best forget method

10 thoughts on “Carnivale du Vin Wine Auction – Charlie “Mr. Humility” Trotter Strikes Again

  1. Good ol’Charlie. He stewed, literally, for a year thinking about that last time he took the stage at the Venetian.

    Me seems to remember that it was ELV, aided by his comedic sidekick from NY, (a guy who was hawking burgers on the Venetian’s big screen out front before the show), that stole the stage at the Beard Foundation Auction last year. (Charlie wanted to think he stole the show last year. He didn’t).

    One can only hope the food you tasted last night came somewhat close to providing the same show that Chez Charlie trumped out.

  2. That’s kind of creepy. And will make me think twice before going to a Charlie Trotter restaurant.

    Over the years, I’ve always had the impression that Emeril was a bit pompous, arrogant. You’re putting him in a new light for me, and I’m starting to reconsider.

  3. Emeril is, beneath all the fame, a mensch.

    Your description more aptly fits CT, but despite his personal failings, he (and his peeps) can still cook like the dickens…

  4. Sorry to have missed it – sounds like a great time all for a great cause. Would have liked half of that crowd with deep pockets at the JBF event last October.

  5. I’ll have a shot of vodka, chased by a shot of bourbon, two rum mickies, a 6-pack of Bud Lite, a Methuselah of Krug and a thimbel of Kirsch. Burp!

  6. Interesting, my Verizon phone worked just fine for tweeting ;)
    You didn’t notice that someone equalled the $180 offer, and they sold the package twice?
    I think GB Shaw said something about the only thing worse than arrogance is false humility (don’t ask me to source that).
    Trotter has a lot of pride, but when you speak to him intelligently, he isn’t dismissive at all. He also has one of the best dry Chicago wits I’ve ever experienced, which is what I saw in the kiss and the “mansion” stuff. Oh, and he’s truly one of the great chefs of our generation.
    You neglected to mention that his package ultimately included a private jet flight (round trip, presumably), the contribution of 3 other big gun chefs, and basically the run of his cellar, which is undoubtedly estimable. I’m pretty sure he’s married, and who knows, he may throw her in on the deal. Pretty historic deal for a foodie with money.
    And yeah, the money goes to Emeril’s charity.
    P.S. Personally, I was trying to drink all the Qupe and Selyem.

  7. Thanks for a more well rounded view of this amazing chef Mr. Gladstone. I like his restaurant so much (as does ELV, I know) that I don’t want to think of him as a one-dimensional arrogant ass while I digest the delightful delicacies Restaurant Charlie puts out. And I don’t swing that way, but for $360,000 going to the charity of my choice I’d kiss just about anyone on the mouth.

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