Chef Michael Chiarello, Former Food Network Star, Has Died

The Emmy Award-winning "Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello" star chef Michael Chiarello has tragically died at 61. The Food Network star had been admitted to the Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, California, due to anaphylactic shock after being exposed to an unnamed allergen.

In a statement, Chiarello's company Gruppo Chiarello paid homage to the late culinary genius: "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 statement said of the late chef, "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."

That passion was partly inherited. Chiarello grew up with a family whose members included ranchers, cheese makers, and butchers and dreamed of turning cooking into a career someday. He would realize his dream in a grand way. A Culinary Institute of America graduate, he appeared on shows like "Iron Chef America," "Top Chef," "Best Thing I Ever Made," and "Supermarket Superstar." Throughout his long career as a chef and restaurateur, he worked with and ran more than 10 restaurants.

Michael Chiarello brought joy to others' lives

Michael Chiarello opened his first restaurant, Tra Vigne in Napa, Valley in 1986, and later launched the likes of Bottega Restaurant in Yountville, California. In addition to experiencing success in the culinary world, Chiarello authored over 10 books throughout his life. His work has been recognized and awarded by IACP and the James Beard Foundation. However, Chiarello's olive oil company Consorzio Flavored Oils received an award in the "Best Product Line" category at the International Fancy Food Show in the mid-'90s.

After Charello's untimely death, fans and well-wishers from all around the world have extended their heartfelt condolences. "RIP Michael Chiarello. I enjoyed his Food Network show ... He had a very nice personality for a TV chef," one fan tweeted. Another fan wrote in part, "He was charming... [and] his food – inspired." His family and loved ones have asked for privacy while they grieve the tragic loss.

Friends remember Michael Chiarello as a culinary trailblazer

Michael Chiarello touched the lives of millions through his cooking on-screen and off. A testament to his influence, It's no surprise how many of the renowned chef and TV personality's friends and peers have released statements since his passing.

Frank Family Vineyards shared Chiarello's achievements in an Instagram post, thanking him for "[bringing] creative Italian cuisine to the Napa Valley" as well as "giving back to many local causes." Kollar Chocolates, which shared a building with Chiarello in Yountville, California, recalled the late chef's generosity, while fellow chef Thomas Keller recounted how Chiarello loved to make others laugh.

Chef Robert Irvine also paid a heartfelt tribute to Michael Chiarello, commenting that Chiarello's passing would affect not only friends and family but the culinary industry as a whole. Indeed, countless others in the food industry, from professional chefs to home cooks, offered their memories of learning new recipes or techniques from Chiarello, being inspired by him, or simply watching his shows on TV.

Michael Chiarello's family encourages donations to charity

In the spirit of the chef's celebrated philanthropy, rather than having fans send flowers, Michael Chiarello's family is asking for donations to be made to Meals on Wheels. According to Chiarello's restaurant bio, the chef regularly donated his own time and resources to Meals on Wheels, a non-profit organization working to counter the food crisis among the elderly population.

Meals on Wheels serves more than 250 million meals each year, a feat made possible mostly through donations. The charity accepts cash and crypto donations but also takes used vehicles. Meals on Wheels also receives a portion of sales from stores like Petsmart, Panera, Walmart, and Walgreens. In other words, the next time you order soup from Panera, a portion of your bill will go toward fighting food insecurity both locally and all across the nation.

Though Chiarello's family did not mention other charities specifically, the late chef also worked closely with Clinic Ole. Clinic Ole provides medical services to the Napa Valley community and fresh produce to those who need it monthly. In total, the clinic provides approximately $11 million in care — free of charge — each year, with donations making its services possible. Those who cannot contribute financially are encouraged to volunteer their time and talent. After all, generosity was all that Chef Michael Chiarello asked of us.