Chef Michael Chiarello dies at 61 from allergic reaction


NEW YORK — Michael Chiarello, a chef known for his Italian-inspired Californian restaurants who won an Emmy Award for best host for “Easy Entertaining With Michael Chiarello” and appeared on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and “Top Chef Masters,” has died. He was 61.

Chiarello died Friday at Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa due to an allergic reaction that resulted in anaphylactic shock, according to Chiarello’s restaurant group Gruppo Chiarello. He had been at the hospital receiving treatment for the allergic reaction over the past week. Details on how he developed the allergic reaction were not immediately available.

“We deeply mourn the loss of our beloved patriarch Michael. His culinary brilliance, boundless creativity, and unwavering commitment to family were at the core of his being,” the restaurant group said in a statement.

Chiarello, a graduate of 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 various restaurants around Napa Valley and San Francisco, including Tra Vigne Restaurant, Coqueta, Ottimo and Bottega. He also owned the Chiarello Family Vineyards in Yountville, California.

Bottega was named Best Newcomer by Zagat in 2008 and was selected as one of America’s best new restaurants by both Forbes and Esquire. At the restaurant, he served Lasagnetta di Zucchine, Pesce alla Milanese and Pollo alla Diavola. Ottimo had paninis and family dishes that served four, like tomato-braised and roasted whole chicken.

In 1985, Food & Wine Magazine named Chiarello Chef of the Year and in 1995, he received the Culinary Institute of America’s Chef of the Year Award. In 2011, he was part of Food Network’s “Next Iron Chef” competition, “Supermarket Superstar” on Lifetime and a judge on “Chopped.” He was named Esquire magazine’s Chef of the Year for 2013.

In 2016, Chiarello was accused of sexual harassment by two former Coqueta employees. Lawsuits filed by the former employees were settled the following year.

His books included “LiveFire Cookbook,” “The 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 four children.

“In remembrance, we ask that you join us in celebrating his remarkable 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 to remind all of us that the bonds forged over a meal are among life’s most precious treasures,” Gruppo Chiarello said.


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