Celebrity Chef And Restaurateur Michael Chiarello Has Died

Luminary California native Michael Chiarello, the creative force behind numerous Napa Valley restaurants, a home goods store, and the Chiarello Family Vineyards has died at age 61. His untimely death followed an allergic reaction. Chiarello's love of food and cooking began with the Southern Italian traditions of his childhood home. As he explained to the Napa Valley Register, "We foraged for our food. The kitchen table was our entertainment. If we had pasta with porcini mushrooms, we'd talk about how we picked them. ... There was a story to all the food we brought home, and it made everything taste even better."

Chiarello went on to graduate from the Culinary Academy of America. After a brief stint working in Florida, where he was quickly named Food and Wine's Chef of the Year, Chiarello brought his successful cooking style back to California. Chiarello's first restaurant venture in Napa Valley, Tra Vigne, was a gathering place for culinary influencers and helped to shape the seasonal wine country cuisine Napa is now famous for.

He went on to open seven more restaurants, including his current ventures Coqueta and Bottega. His influence went far beyond his restaurants: Chiarello wrote a handful of books sharing his culinary expertise and stories about life in wine country, developed a line of flavored olive oils, opened a retail store, and created his own winery.

Recognition and legacy

Chiarello won numerous awards for his work, garnering multiple Chef of the Year nods from Food and Wine magazine and Esquire, a cookbook award from the IACP, and an Emmy in 2005 for his Food Network show "Easy Entertaining With Michael Chiarello." The show, which ran for five seasons, once again made the kitchen a center of entertainment. He was a frequent celebrity guest on Cooking Channel and Food Network, with appearances on Top Chef and Iron Chef, among others.

Through Gruppo Chiarello, his family said, "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. He brought people together through the joy of shared meals, fostering lasting memories around the table." The chef cherished his kitchen. It was the place where he servedĀ gnocchi when one of his sons was born and a wide space where he could host 20 people. Perhaps fittingly, Chiarello's business partners would like people to remember his legacy by sharing "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." In consideration of his love of food and shared experiences, donations to Meals On Wheels in honor of Chiarello's life are requested.