Celebrity chef Michael Chiarello dies in Napa Valley at 61


Renowned California chef and restaurateur Michael Chiarello has died at the age of 61.

Chiarello died Friday at Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, Calif., surrounded by family and friends. His restaurant group Gruppo Chiarello said he had been treated for the past week for “anaphylactic shock resulting from an acute allergic reaction.” announced in a press release Saturday.

“We deeply mourn the passing of our beloved patriarch, Michael. His culinary talent, boundless creativity and unwavering commitment to his family were at the core of his existence,” Chiarello’s family said in a statement. He brought people together through the joy of a shared meal, creating lasting memories at the table.”

Chef Michael Chiarello attends the first day of the 3rd Annual Yountville Live Music Food & Wine Festival on March 16, 2017 in Yountville, California.

Steve Jennings/

“As we work through this profound loss, we cherish the time we had with him, both in his kitchen and in our hearts,” the family’s statement continued. “His legacy will forever live on in his love for every dish and the passion he instilled in all of us for a taste of life.”

ABC News reached out to Gruppo Chiarello for further comment on Chiarello’s death but did not immediately receive a response.

Born in Red Bluff, Calif., and raised in the Central Valley, the Italian-American chef and former Food Network host built a portfolio of critically acclaimed restaurants in San Francisco and Napa Valley starting with Tra Vigne in 1987 A small empire formed.

Chiarello’s cuisine has forged a reputation for combining his Southern Italian roots with the unique character of Napa Valley, a fusion of Californian and Italian cuisine.

“What drives me is not the food itself, but all the bonds and memories it represents,” Chiarello writes in his cookbook, The Tra Vigne Cookbook: Seasons in the California Wine Country. California Wine Country, first published in September 1999.

Chiarello’s profound impact on the culinary world sparked reactions on social media over the weekend, with tributes pouring in from his esteemed chef friends and colleagues across the hospitality industry.

Chef Michael Chiarello attends the first day of the 3rd Annual Yountville Live Music Food & Wine Festival on March 16, 2017 in Yountville, California.

Steve Jennings/

The French Laundry restaurant is just a six-minute walk from Chiarello’s famous Yountville restaurant Bottega, and chef Thomas Keller paid a touching tribute to his longtime neighbor, dear friend and colleague on Instagram.

“Michael’s love for food and entertaining, the warmth he radiated, and the laughter he shared with our community left an indelible mark,” Keller wrote in the post’s caption. “Chef Michael, you are immortal The legacy will live on. Thank you for your friendship and all your contributions to our profession. Sending love and peace to your entire family and dedicated team.”

Chiarello graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, in 1982 and received a bachelor’s degree in hotel management from Florida International University in 1984.

Since then, Chiarello has blazed a trail of Californian and Italian cuisine in a 40-year career as a chef and restaurant, starting with Toby’s in Miami, opening more than 10 restaurants and being named Chef of the Year by Food magazine and wine magazines.

Some of his other top culinary honors include being named Alumnus of the Year by the Culinary Institute of America in 2011, Chef of the Year by Esquire in 2013, a James Beard Best New Restaurant finalist that same year, and receiving a glowing 3.5 stars from the San Francisco Chronicle The newspaper reviewed his Spanish restaurant Coqueta on Pier 5.

He hosts two popular shows: the Emmy Award-winning Food Network series “Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello,” set in the beautiful wine country of Trefethen Winery, and Fine Living Network’s “NapaStyle.” He has also appeared on other cooking shows on PBS and the Cooking Channel, and in 2009 was a runner-up to the finals on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters.” He also appeared on the Food Network competition show “The Next Iron Chef” in 2011.

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