If there’s one silver lining to driving under the influence – it’s that everybody is treated the same. If you are found operating the vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you will be charged, you will be prosecuted, and you will face the penalties associated with DUI in your state or jurisdiction. Unfortunately, TV Chef Michael Chiarello found out recently that his celebrity chef status and ability to cook won’t help when it comes to his charge.
Chiarello was pulled over in the early morning hours by California State Highway Police while driving his Porsche through the Napa County and Valley area. Chiarello told the officers that he was traveling from Yountville where his restaurant Bottega Ristorante is located. During their interaction police became suspicious of Chiarello’s behavior and eventually determined that Chiarello was under the influence of one or more substances. Chiarello was arrested and charged with suspicion of DUI and possession of a controlled substance and was released later that day according to California Highway Patrol Spokesman Officer Marc Renspurger.
A Chiarello spokesperson released a statement in which Chiarello states that though the situation is embarrassing and he’s apologized to several people, he still intends to fight the misdemeanor charges issued to him.
The DUI arrest couldn’t come at a worse time for Chiarello, who is facing other legal issues. He recently settled a lawsuit with former employees Katherine Page and Asja Sever who claimed they suffered sexual harassment and were “forced to endure a hostile, sexually-charged work environment,” at Chiarello’s San Francisco-based Coqueta Restaurant. The lawsuit stated that management turned a blind eye to the hostile work environment.
At the same time Page and Sever filed another lawsuit against Chiarello and the restaurant ownership group Gruppo Chiarello on a failure to pay wages. That court battle is currently ongoing, as are Chiarello’s drug and DUI charges.
Chiarello is a Napa-area based restaurateur and chef. Chiarello has hosted his cooking shows on PBS, The Food Network, and the Cooking Channel. He also regularly appears on CBS’s “The Early Show,” NBC’s “Today,” and Martha Stewart Living Radio