Michael Chiarello, Food Network Star, Dead At 61

Food Network star Michael Chiarello has died at the age of 61, according to TMZ. Chiarello's company confirmed to the outlet that the celebrity chef died from anaphylactic shock on October 7, after experiencing an allergic reaction to an unnamed allergen. "We deeply mourn the loss of our beloved patriarch Michael," said his family 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." 

Chiarello had been hospitalized for several days before his death, but succumbed to the allergic reaction on Saturday, according to People. His surviving family, which includes his ex-wife and four kids, has requested that his supporters donate to Meals on Wheels — a charitable organization that seeks to supply the elderly with fresh, healthy meal options.

Before his untimely passing, Chiarello enjoyed a successful culinary career that spanned several Food Network shows, including "Season By Season," "Napa Style," and "Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello" — which garnered him a Daytime Emmy in 2005. However, Chiarello was also a world-renowned Italian chef, who headed up several successful restaurants, eateries, and even a winery. 

Food was Michael Chiarello's passion

Michael Chiarello was deeply passionate about food — especially the way it could enrich a person's life. His passion was evidenced not just by his culinary success, but also by the way he spoke about it through the years. During a 2015 interview with Food Republic, Chiarello pulled from his decades of culinary expertise to reveal how to create the most romantic dinner date. After agreeing with the reporter that his Bottega restaurant was a "magical" place for couples to get engaged, he revealed where he'd take his then-wife. "If I was picking, it would probably be something like Kokkari," said the chef. "It's a Greek place. A beautiful, sexy spot. Really lush with food eaten out of hand. There's a lot of feeding each other there. The lamb, the hummus, the Greek wine. There's something about the Greek Islands." Ultimately, the most important factor was choosing a restaurant that evoked romantic memories for the couple, however.

Chiarello put just as much thought into his own personal kitchen. While most chefs would probably prioritize having the latest state-of-the-art appliances and the freshest farm-grown food, Chiarello spent a lot of time picking out the perfect lighting, proving that he really understood the power of ambiance. "I don't care what kind of stove I use as long as it heats up nice and fast, but I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the right lighting in this kitchen," Chiarello previously wrote for Saveur.