Chefs

Charlie Trotter: Chef and restaurateur who led Chicago's rise to

Of all the chefs who shot to international fame in recent times, Charlie Trotter was the most remarkable, and eccentric. He was entirely self-taught – as a cook and restaurateur – though he was a conventionally well-educated man from a well-off family. Yet when he retired in August last year and closed his Chicago restaurant, aged only 52, he said it was in order to travel and perhaps do postgraduate work in philosophy.

Alex James: The cheesemaker and musician talks superstar chefs, Blur

Our food culture was a laughing stock until 20 years ago When rationing ended back in 1954, British food had a lot to catch up on. As a teenager I used to save up loads of money to go to France and spend it all on good food there. It may have been only 21 miles from England, but Calais tomatoes were a completely different proposition from Dover ones. On one exchange visit, instead of buying cigarettes and alcohol, I spent my money on juicy steaks from a butcher and delicious potatoes at a grocer, and had a feast.

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Red House, 2 Elystan Street, London

The American invasion of London continues. It seems only yesterday that Keith McNally opened a simulacrum of his New York brasserie Balthazar, to reviews that found the food pedestrian. The Shake Shack burger franchise will soon explode upon Covent Garden, along with the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co in the Trocadero, Piccadilly, while the hip New York hotelier André Balazs will open a new joint with a fancy grill in Marylebone. Soon you won't be able to move in London for luxuriantly-priced USDA steaks, seafood platters and ingenious deployments of quinoa.

Restaurant Story, 201 Tooley Street, London SE1

Can you judge a book by its cover? Not in the case of Story, the white-hot new restaurant housed in what looks like a garden centre on a traffic island just south of the Thames in Bermondsey.