'Godfather of Italian gastronomy' Antonio Carluccio has died

By Stefan Chomka contact

- Last updated on GMT

'Godfather of Italian gastronomy' Antonio Carluccio has died

Related tags: Antonio carluccio, Terence conran

Italian chef Antonio Carluccio has died at the age of 80.

The chef, affectionately known as the godfather of Italian gastronomy, died this morning (8 November), according to his official Twitter page.

Carluccio was one of the best loved Italian chefs in the UK, with a strong presence on TV, in bookshops and on the high street. In 1999 he founded Italian restaurant chain Carluccio’s, which still bears his name today.

He was also a prolific writer having penned around 18 cookbooks, including one with friend Gennaro Conaldo.

Carluccio was known for his strong personality and wicked sense of humour as well as his brilliance behind the stove and a passion for bringing Italian food to the masses. Chef Brian Turner tweeted of his old friend: ‘Sad to hear of the great loss of a wonderful friend today. I will miss you, thanks for your wonderful sense of humour.’

As well as a love of cooking, Carluccio was a keen forager from an early age and long before it became a trend in the UK. His passion for mushrooms developed at the age of five when he would accompany his father roaming the Italian countryside looking for different fruits and fungi. He was also a keen whittler in his spare time, carving his initials into the sticks he would take with him on the foraging trips.

Carluccio was due to help present the Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards next week alongside Waitrose Kitchen editor William Sitwell. In an Instagram post, Sitwell remembered Carluccio for his ‘filthy jokes, his amazing array of expresso machines, his collection of chilled and jarred mushrooms, his wonderful conversation, the strong Italian accent that never left him’.

The saddest news. One of the loveliest people, and a really wonderful friend, Antonio Carluccio, has died. He was due to stay with me next week to help present the Northants Food and Drink Awards and I was so looking forward to seeing him and giving him an illustration I just had framed. It accompanied the last piece he wrote for me, a beautiful memory of his war years, and the illustration depicted him at his bedroom window above the station-masters house where he lived as a child. He loved the picture and said it showed exactly the scene in his own memory. I was so lucky to get to know him well over the years. I often visited him at his home in Wandsworth chatting over the big wooden table where he would write - always by hand in pencil. And he never stopped writing books. When one ended he simply started another. In one corner of the room were huge numbers of walking sticks - he would whittle in his spare time. And everywhere there were mushroom related ornaments. He was famous for his love of funghi so every damn person thought a mushroom-related piece of art would make a great present. He came to London in the wine business after working for the Italian typewriter firm Olivetti and through Terence Conran and his sister Priscilla - who he married - he got into the food business starting a cafe in Covent Garden. The rest is history. I will so miss him. His filthy jokes, his amazing array of expresso machines, his collection of chilled and jarred mushrooms, his wonderful conversation, the strong Italian accent that never left him. How lucky Emily and I were over the summer when we saw him ambling through the Chelsea Arts Club and he joined us both for dinner. 'I don't drink anything these days,' he said as I offered him a glass of wine. 'Only whisky.' Then that grin, that laugh, the shock of thick white curly hair. He had such warmth and at 80 great energy. He was only working in Australia very recently. It is so sad but what an absolute joy to know that he really was a friend. Every mushroom growing quietly beneath a pile of leaves in one of the secret woods that only he knew about might shed a little tear knowing he will never pick one of them again.

A post shared by William  Sitwell (@williamsitwell) on

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