NEW YORK – Chef Michael Chiarello, known for his Italian-inspired California restaurants, winner of an Emmy Award for best host for “Easy Fun with Michael Chiarello” and appeared on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and “Top Chef Masters,” has died. He was 61 years old.
Chiarello died Friday at Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa from an allergic reaction that resulted in anaphylactic shock, according to Chiarello’s restaurant group, Gruppo Chiarello. He was in the hospital last week to receive treatment for an allergic reaction. Details about how he developed the allergic reaction were not yet available.
“We are deeply saddened to lose our beloved patriarch Michael. His culinary genius, boundless creativity and unwavering devotion to his family were at the core of his being,” the restaurant group said in a statement.
Chiarello, who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York, opened his first restaurant at just 22 Toby’s in Miami. He would go on to open several restaurants around Napa Valley and San Francisco, including Tra Vigne Restaurant, Coqueta, Ottimo, and Bottega. He also owned Chiarello Family Vineyards in Yountville, California.
Bottega was named a Best Newcomer by Zagat in 2008 and named one of America’s best new restaurants by both Forbes and Esquire. He served Lasagnetta di Zucchine, Pesce alla Milanese and Pollo alla Diavola in the restaurant. Ottimo had family meals for four, including paninis and a whole chicken fried and roasted with tomatoes.
In 1985, Chiarello was named Chef of the Year by Food & Wine Magazine, and in 1995 he received the Culinary Institute of America’s Chef of the Year Award. In 2011, he appeared on Food Network’s “Next Iron Chef” competition, Lifetime’s “Supermarket Superstar” and was a judge on “Chopped”. He was named Esquire magazine’s 2013 Chef of the Year.
In 2016, Chiarello was accused of sexual harassment by two former Coqueta employees. The lawsuits filed by former employees were concluded the following year.
His books included “LiveFire Cookbook,” “Tra Vigne Cookbook,” “Michael Chiarello’s Bottega,” “Michael Chiarello’s Casual Cooking,” “Napa Stories” and “Flavored Vinegars.”
He is survived by his wife, Eileen, and their four children.
“In remembrance, we invite you to join us in celebrating his extraordinary journey and the incredible impact he had on the world of food, wine and family by inviting you to share a meal with your family and friends. Gruppo Chiarello believes that the bonds exchanged for a meal are among life’s most precious treasures told.