Celebrity chef Michael Chiarello has died, according to a statement from his Gruppo Chiarello restaurant group. He was 61 years old. Chiarello died after being treated for the past week for “an acute allergic reaction that led to anaphylactic shock,” according to the statement.
The chef was known for appearances on “Top Chef,” “Top Chef Masters” and “Next Iron Chef,” as well as hosting shows on Food Network, PBS, the Cooking Channel and elsewhere, including “Easy Entertaining.” That program earned him an Emmy in 2005.
He died surrounded by family and friends at Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, according to the statement.
“We deeply mourn the loss of our beloved patriarch Michael,” his family said in a statement. “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. As we navigate this profound loss, we hold dear the moments we cherished with him, both in his kitchens and in our hearts. His legacy will forever live on in the love he poured into every dish and the passion he instilled in all of us to savor life’s flavors.”
Food & Wine Magazine named him Chef of the Year in 1985. His Tra Vigne restaurant opened to critical acclaim in the Napa Valley in 1987. Chiarello was also recognized by the James Beard Foundation and wrote many cookbooks.
“Chef Michael Chiarello’s passion for food and life will forever be etched in our kitchens and our hearts,” his partners in Gruppo Chiarello said in a statement. “While we mourn Michael’s passing, we also celebrate his legacy that continues with his restaurants, Bottega, Coqueta (San Francisco and Napa Valley), and Ottimo. 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.”
Chiarello came from a southern Italian family in California’s Central Valley, beginning his cooking journey in his mother’s kitchen. He later became particularly known for innovative work with olive oil.
In lieu of flowers, his family has asked for donations to Meals on Wheels.