Michael Chiarello, Chef and Foods Network Star, Dies at 61

Michael Chiarello, a tricky-doing the job, Tv-prepared chef from California’s Central Valley whose culinary prowess and intuitive knack for internet marketing aided determine a chapter of Italian-influenced Northern California cuisine and the rural escapism of the Napa Valley way of living, died on Friday in Napa. He was 61.

His death, in a clinic, resulted from an acute allergic reaction that led to anaphylactic shock, said Giana O’Shaughnessy, his youngest daughter. The cause of the allergic response has not been determined.

Mr. Chiarello was a member of a technology of Northern California chefs who by the 1980s experienced freed them selves from the conventions of continental delicacies. They swapped olive oil for butter when they served bread, and they applied seasonal generate and domestically built cheese and wine long ahead of the time period “farm to table” grew to become a menu cliché.

He would later get caught in the #MeToo movement, when two servers filed a sexual harassment lawsuit in 2016 from him and his restaurant firm, Gruppo Chiarello. The scenario was settled out of court, but his popularity was tarnished and television prospects dried up.

Michael Dominic Chiarello was born on Jan. 26, 1962, in Purple Bluff, Calif., in the Sacramento Valley, and elevated surrounded by almond trees and melon fields 200 miles south in Turlock, a farming city created on the prosperous soil not significantly from Modesto.

He was the youngest kid of a couple with roots in the Calabria area of Italy. He credited his mother, Antoinette (Aiello) Chiarello, for his earliest culinary classes. His father, Harry, was a banker who suffered a debilitating stroke when he was in his 40s.

“We by no means experienced a great deal dollars and constantly had to scrape by,” Mr. Chiarello advised The St. Helena Star in 2006. “We foraged for our foodstuff. The kitchen desk was our entertainment. If we experienced pasta with porcini mushrooms, we’d communicate about how we picked them. How damp and rainy it was that day, or how the truck broke down. There was a tale to all the food we introduced household, and it built everything style even far better.”

By 14, he was doing work in a cafe in concerning wrestling practice and courses at Turlock Large Faculty. By 22, he experienced graduated from the Culinary Institute of The united states in Hyde Park, N.Y., and Florida International University in Miami, in which he acquired a degree in lodge and cafe administration.

Even although he was starting up to receive countrywide notice for his cooking — he opened his 1st cafe in Miami in 1984 and was named Meals & Wine magazine’s chef of the calendar year in 1985 — his father wasn’t pleased.

“When I made a decision to be a chef, it wasn’t what it is these days. It was just a trade, not captivating like currently,” he claimed in the 2006 job interview. “I bear in mind my father was concerned about me. A person of my brothers is a Ph.D., one particular an lawyer. I was a cook dinner. He’d say, ‘The household arrived all this way from Italy. He could have completed that around there.’”

Mr. Chiarello caught the awareness of Cindy Pawlcyn, who had recently been on the cover of Bon Appétit magazine for her restaurant Mustards Grill, a groundbreaking Yountville roadhouse with a huge wine listing where by the good winemakers of the period would stroll in lined in farm dirt. She was on the lookout for anyone to run a new cafe in St. Helena called Tra Vigne.

Mr. Chiarello arrived for an job interview carrying a chef’s neckerchief and brimming with ambition.

“Michael was a quite driven person there was no question about that,” Ms. Pawlcyn reported in a phone interview. “Tra Vigne was a good spot to commence, for the reason that Michael was outgoing and exuberant and could be charming on the place. He fulfilled a good deal of men and women there.”

Certainly, Robert Mondavi and other top rated winemakers would become regulars, and attendees normally included culinary and Hollywood elite, from Julia Child to Danny DeVito.

The restaurant was a leaping-off level for Mr. Chiarello’s empire, which would finally include things like numerous dining places, an olive oil corporation, a vineyard and a retail business enterprise with a robust catalog.

He left Tra Vigne in 2001 to pursue a job in media and items. His initially Television set display, “Season by Period,” debuted that 12 months on PBS. And he opened NapaStyle, a web page and a smaller chain of retail stores in which he marketed panini, flavored olive oil and other specialty meals, as perfectly as cookware, desk décor and wine from his own vineyard.

He jumped to Meals Network in 2003 with “Easy Entertaining With Michael Chiarello,” which landed him a Daytime Emmy Award. He would go on to contend on “Top Chef Masters” and was a decide on “Top Chef.”

Mr. Chiarello wrote eight publications, 1 of which, “The Tra Vigne Cookbook” (1999), was at a single level as common in Bay Area bookstores as Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential,” which came out shortly after.

He was a single of the 1st to see Napa Valley as a life-style and a brand name, reported the Northern California foods writer and cheese skilled Janet Fletcher, who wrote two publications with him.

“He truly was a very great prepare dinner but also an astounding marketer and merchandiser,” she reported, introducing that “they didn’t occur additional charming or handsome.”

“Walking through the eating place at Tra Vigne, you could just see the star electric power,” Ms. Fletcher stated, “but there was compound, too. You desired to eat every single dish on his menu.”

Mr. Chiarello wrote eight books, a single of which, “The Tra Vigne Cookbook” (1999), was at just one stage as common in Bay Region bookstores as Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Private.”Credit…Chronicle Books

Mr. Chiarello jumped again into the cafe globe in 2008, opening the casually tasteful Bottega in Yountville. Five many years afterwards, he additional Coqueta, a Spanish-targeted cafe on the Embarcadero in San Francisco, and in 2019 he expanded it to Napa.

Sexual harassment statements dogged him. Two servers at Coqueta named him in a lawsuit in 2016, professing that he presided above a sexually charged ambiance, touched workforce inappropriately and, among the other factors, manufactured lewd gestures with a baguette.

Mr. Chiarello vigorously denied the expenses and vowed to combat them. The events ultimately settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.

In addition to Ms. O’Shaughnessy, his daughter from his relationship to Ines Bartel, which finished in divorce, Mr. Chiarello is survived by two other daughters from that relationship, Margaux Comalrena and Felicia Chiarello a son, Aidan Chiarello, from his next relationship, to Eileen Gordon two brothers, Ron and Kevin Chiarello and two grandchildren. A company spokesman mentioned that Mr. Chiarello and Ms. Gordon had been lawfully separated and in the method of divorcing when he died.

Inspite of his outsize occupation, Ms. O’Shaughnessy said, Mr. Chiarello was a family members man at heart who desired to maintain his family’s tales alive. He designed a place of training his children how to make the gnocchi his mother taught him to make when he was 7, and he named several bottlings of wine from Chiarello Spouse and children Vineyards right after his little ones.

“In the restaurant business enterprise I shed a great deal of time with my ladies,” he said in 2006. “I really do not want that to happen all over again. I don’t want to be indicating any more that I need to have put in far more time with my children, additional time with my spouse. If I get strike by a bus, I do not want my final considered to be about a wine offer I was performing with Walmart.”