Pearls of Wisdom: Antonio Carluccio

By Stefan Chomka

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cooking, Antonio carluccio, Carluccio

Antonio Carluccio
Antonio Carluccio
Antonio Carluccio, the Italian restaurateur, celebrity chef and prolific cookery-book writer shares his thoughts

My cooking principle is to create something simple.​ I call it MOF MOF – minimum of fuss, maximum of flavour.

It takes me one or two years to write a book.​ I hate computers. I write longhand and do all the research myself. It’s my material. I didn’t reinvent water, but I don’t copy other recipes either.

I like every ethnic cuisine that is true to the origin and cultural aspect.​ I like Chinese food, and dim sum for lunch.

Many restaurateurs make combinations of tastes and flavours that do not go together ​just for the sake of writing it down on paper. The cuisine of fusion is done by people with no imagination.

I am not fond of mock-up Italian food.​ The River Café serves good food, but it is not Italian. I wouldn’t know who does 100 per cent Italian food in London.

The ideas of Carluccio’s was very simple.​ It reflects what I expect from a restaurant. It serves good food with good service at good prices. Many people are trying to copy the Carluccio’s philosophy.

My name is still there at Carluccio’s.​ I have a particular interest in the business. I check the food. It’s good for people to know that I’m there.

To be a successful restaurateur you have to know the habits of people ​and make them happy, but without being servile.

I am proud of my restaurants and that many chefs who worked there have started their own businesses.​ I have kept maintaining my quality and not just gone down the commercial route. I am proud that all of that didn’t go to my head. I am also proud that I have enthused a lot of people to cook Italian food.

In general I am not fond of chefs with big names.

I like to create things and use my brain in various departments.​ Food is the biggest department but I also like carvings, sculpting and painting.

When I came here in 1975 the little trattorias were offering spaghetti Bolognese, ​caramelised oranges, chicken supreme and prawn cocktail and avocados. It has changed a lot since then.

I like all food, providing it is good quality. The only thing I don’t like is putrefied shark. It is the most revolting thing I have ever tried.

My favourite dishes are simple.​ Maybe a spaghetti with tomato and basil or a risotto with truffles. The simpler the better.

My guru was Pellegrino Artusi who wrote a book in the direction that I see food. ​I also like Raymond Blanc – he’s a self taught man and I know he loves simple cooking.

The only criticism I have of Gordon Ramsay is that he is not humble enough.​ I am a cook, not a chef. A cook loves food; a chef learns a trade. A cook cooks for love and for passion. If you ask a chef whether they cook at home, they say “no”.

I am incorrigible.

Last year was my annus horribilis.​ When my Neal Street restaurant closed in 2006 it made me depressed. But I am now very happy.

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