Spotlight Gala: Love, Charlie: The Rise and Fall of Chef Charlie Trotter
Before the Food Network and social media, Chef Charlie Trotter revolutionized global cuisine. He was a rockstar among the first generation of celebrity chefs, but his meteoric rise came at a price. With exclusive access to never-before-seen archival material, Love, Charlie reveals how his pursuit of excellence ultimately consumed him, with devastating consequences.
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Director Rebecca Halpern, producer Renée Frigo, and Chef Norman Van Aken will be in attendance and will participate in a post-screening Q&A with festival host Bob Blumer.
Rebecca Halpern, Director
From true crime docuseries to feature documentaries rooted in history and the arts and culture, Rebecca’s work evokes emotion and enlightens and empowers audiences. Most recently, Rebecca served as Co-Executive Producer of Netflix’s How to Become a Mob Boss, and she is making her directorial debut with Love, Charlie, a feature documentary named Best of the Fest at the 2021 Chicago International Film Festival. In 2021, she also produced and wrote Who Is Stan Smith?, a feature documentary about tennis great and fashion icon Stan Smith. Prior to that, she served as the Co-Executive Producer of Helter Skelter: An American Myth, a six-part documentary series about Charles Manson for Epix network. A native Chicagoan, Rebecca earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Northwestern University. Rebecca serves on the Entertainment Committee of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Board of Directors of the Facets Multimedia, and Northwestern University’s IMAP mentorship program for student-athletes. She also volunteers as a mentor angel for Imerman Angels One-on-One Cancer Support. @rebeccahalpern
Renée Frigo, Producer
Renée was inspired to launch Oak Street Pictures, so Charlie Trotter’s legacy would have its deserved place in history. Renée grew up in Chicago and was honoured when Chef Trotter put his stamp of approval on her extra virgin olive oil. Renée Frigo is the co-founder and former CEO of Lucini Italia, the number-one premium Italian food brand available in over 20,000 US stores. Renée serves on the Board of Directors for the Ed Asner Family Center, which supports children with autism and special needs. @renee.frigo
Chef Norman Van Aken
Norman Van Aken is widely known for introducing the term “Fusion” into the vocabulary of cuisine due to a speech he presented in Santa Fe in 1989. He is the only Floridian Chef recipient of the James Beard Foundation’s “Who’s Who” in American Food and Beverage. He has also been a semifinalist for the “Best Chef in America”. His namesake restaurant NORMAN’S, was nominated as a finalist for “Best Restaurant in America”. He has represented the United States with international recognitions that include being honoured alongside Alice Waters, Paul Prudhomme, and Mark Miller as “One of the Founders of New American Cuisine” at Madrid Fusión, Spain’s International Summit of Gastronomy. @normanvanaken
Bob Blumer, Host
Gastronaut, author, and 8X Guinness World Record holder Bob Blumer is best known as the creator and host of Food Network’s award-winning shows Surreal Gourmet, Glutton for Punishment, and World’s Weirdest Restaurants. He has written seven cookbooks—transforming ordinary ingredients into wow-inspiring dishes through simple cooking methods and whimsical presentations that have become his culinary trademark. The Globe and Mail called his most recent book, Flavorbomb: a rogue guide to making everything taste better, “a crash course in becoming a better, bolder cook”. Bob is a long-term ambassador for Second Harvest, a perishable food bank, and an ambassador for Love Food/Hate Waste, a national Canadian zero-waste initiative. Bob documents his love of food, travel, and Wolfville on Instagram. You can stalk him @bobblumer.