2016 is turning out to be a doozy for Food Network star and longtime Napa chef Michael Chiarello. As Eater first reported, Chiarello got picked up early Wednesday morning for a DUI in Napa County, and he was also subsequently charged with possession of a controlled substance the substance in question remains unnamed. This incident, which happened at 3:27 a.m. Wednesday approximately two and a half miles from his Yountville flagship restaurant Bottega (per the Chron) comes on the heels of a pair of lawsuits by former employees that were announced in March pertaining to sexual harassment and underpayment of wages.
Two former servers at Chiarello's three-year-old San Francisco restaurant Coqueta, Asja Sever and Katherine Page, are suing Chiarello along with Coqueta chef de cuisine Dominick Maietta and general manager Mirko Galliani for various alleged gross-sounding behavior involving the suggestive stroking of baguettes and use of the terms "snail trail" and "lazy cunt." Unless a settlement takes place before then, the case is expected to go to trial in July 2017.
At the time those lawsuits went public, Chiarello vehemently denied the charges and said via a spokesperson that the claims were "unfounded" and "against his core beliefs."
As of 2013, Chiarello was riding a wave of newfound accolades following the opening of the Spanish-inspired Coqueta, which garnered a James Beard Award nomination and landed him as Esquire's Chef of the Year. Previously, Chiarello had gained fame as executive chef at St. Helena's Tra Vigne restaurant, leading to his own Napa-based food shows on the Food Network, and to his appearance on the first season of Top Chef Masters, where he made it to the final three alongside fellow Bay Area chef Hubert Keller, and Rick Bayless.
According to Eater, via public records, Chiarello was arrested just after 4 a.m. yesterday and was released on $5,000 bail at 7:28 a.m.
SFist has reached out to Chiarello's team for comment, but we've yet to receive a response.