California

Celebrity chef Michael Chiarello arrested on suspicion of DUI and drug possession in Napa County

Celebrity chef Michael Chiarello was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of driving under the influence and possessing drugs while driving his Porsche in Napa County, officials said.

Chiarello, who appeared on Bravo TV’s popular cooking show “Top Chef Masters,” was stopped at 3:27 a.m. while driving his two-door 2015 Porsche Boxster on Silverado Trail, said Officer Marc Renspurger, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol in Napa.

The 54-year-old Emmy Award-winning chef told the officer who stopped him that he was driving from Yountville, where his eatery, Bottega Ristorante, is located.

At some point during the stop, Chiarello was determined to be under the influence, Renspurger said.

Chiarello was taken into custody and booked on suspicion of DUI and possessing a controlled substance, Renspurger said. He was released the same day, according to jail records.

Chiarello’s spokesman said in a statement that although he was embarrassed and apologized to people close to him, “he intends to vigorously challenge the misdemeanor charges filed against him.”

The arrest came days after a settlement was reached between Chiarello and Katherine Page and Asja Sever, two former servers at his San Francisco restaurant, Coqueta. Page and Sever sued him in March, saying they were sexually harassed and “forced to endure a hostile, sexually-charged work environment” at the restaurant, according to the lawsuit.

They claimed the restaurant’s management turned “a blind eye” toward the misconduct.

The women’s lawsuit, filed in San Francisco County Superior Court, details explosive and crude statements they say were made by Chiarello, including one in which he compared a new sandwich on the restaurant’s menu to a woman’s genitals and urging managers not to hire people they didn’t want to sleep with.

Page and Sever also filed another lawsuit the same month against Chiarello and restaurant group Gruppo Chiarello, claiming a failure to pay their wages. The court battle continues with the next hearing set in March.

Chiarello, who owns several Napa-area businesses, has hosted his own cooking shows on the Food Network, PBS and the Cooking Channel for years. He regularly appears on CBS’ “The Early Show,” NBC’s “Today” show and Martha Stewart Living Radio.

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

For breaking news in California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.

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UPDATES:

3:10 p.m.: This article was updated with a comment from Michael Chiarello’s spokeman.

This article was originally published at 1:55 p.m.