Legendary Charlie Trotter’s sous chef Reggie Watkins, ‘backbone’ of kitchen for 25 years, dies at 64

For 25 years, Reginald Watkins was the backbone of one of the most famous kitchens in the world, the acclaimed Charlie Trotter’s in Lincoln Park. While a stunning roster of chefs passed through the restaurant throughout the years, Watkins remained a constant, working as the primary sous chef — and kitchen confidante for owner Charlie Trotter — until he left the restaurant in 2011, a year before it closed for good.



Charlie Trotter, Margalita Chakhnashvili posing for the camera: Chef Reginald Watkins, right, holds a sign honoring his former boss Charlie Trotter, center, during a ceremony naming a portion of Armitage Avenue as Honorary Charlie Trotter Way in August 2012.


© Chris Walker, Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Chef Reginald Watkins, right, holds a sign honoring his former boss Charlie Trotter, center, during a ceremony naming a portion of Armitage Avenue as Honorary Charlie Trotter Way in August 2012.

On Monday night, Watkins died at age 64, of unknown causes during a visit to the emergency room in his home city of Chicago, after having spent the last several years working and living in Louisiana.

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Following news of his death, many former co-workers from Trotter’s and beyond shared heartfelt memories and regards on social media about “Chef Reggie,” a man they remembered as being tough but gentle — and a necessary guide to help young chefs survive what was a notoriously demanding kitchen environment.

“He was a legend in his own right,” said his daughter, Lerita Watkins.

“He was a real icon at that restaurant,” echoed chef David LeFevre, who worked two stints at Trotter’s kitchen between 1995 and 2004.

The Los Angleles-based LeFevre was among a long list of former co-workers who shared tributes to Watkins earlier this week, along with Grant Achatz, Bill Kim, Giuseppe Tentori, Sari Zernich-Worsham and plenty more.

“My dad was in love with cooking, working, being amongst his peers who also shared his love with being a chef,” Lerita Watkins said. “He kept in touch with so many of those people that he trained. He did.”

Born and raised near 35th Street and King Drive, Reggie Watkins was raised by his mother and grandmother and lived in the city for almost his entire life. In 1987, he responded to a newspaper classified ad seeking kitchen help, which led to his meeting Charlie Trotter, who was looking to open a restaurant. The ad had published for the first time on that date, Trotter’s son Dylan said, and Watkins was the first person to respond.

“When he first met my dad, he was just going to lie and be like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’ve cooked before,’” Dylan Trotter said Watkins recently shared with him. “But then when he saw my dad and saw his face, he was like, ‘I knew I couldn’t lie to this guy. I had to tell him the truth.’ They just had the connection right off the bat.”

The rest is actual history. Watkins was famously hired as the first-ever employee at Trotter’s, running the kitchen from its first day until his last day in 2011. He and Charlie Trotter grew to be close friends, almost like brothers: “We always envisioned those two getting old together,” LeFevre said. (The restaurant closed in

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CCAGW PAC Endorses Kansas Rep. Roger Marshall for Senate, and Reps. Ron Estes and Steve Watkins for Re-election to the House of Representatives

Today, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste Political Action Committee (CCAGW PAC) announced its endorsement of Reps. Ron Estes (R-Kans.) and Steve Watkins (R-Kans.) for re-election to the House, and Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kans.) for election to the Senate.

CCAGW PAC based its endorsements on the candidate’s’ lifetime score in CCAGW’s 2019 Congressional Ratings.

Rep. Estes was named a “Taxpayer Super Hero” in 2019 with a perfect score of 100 percent and is a lifetime “Taxpayer Hero” with a rating of 94 percent. Rep. Watkins has a lifetime rating of 99 percent based on his first year in Congress and Rep. Marshall has a lifetime rating of 87 percent, both earning the title of “Taxpayer Hero.”

“During their tenures in the House, Reps. Estes, Watkins, and Marshall have been strong and reliable votes to curb government waste and reform Washington,” said CCAGW PAC Chairman Tom Schatz. “On top of their impressive voting records, they worked with their colleagues to enact and retain historic tax cuts, support deregulation, and help ignite America’s economic boom. I urge Kansans to re-elect Reps. Estes and Watkins to the House of Representatives, and elect Rep. Marshall to the Senate.”

CCAGW PAC is affiliated with the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, a 501(c)(4) organization. CCAGW PAC’s mission is to support political candidates who will fight to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in government and represent the best interests of taxpayers.

Paid for by the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste Political Action Committee. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200930005689/en/

Contacts

Alexandra Abrams (202) 467-5310
[email protected]

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