Tributes have poured in for chef and restaurateur Antonio Carluccio, who has died at the age of 80.
Carluccio was born in Vietri sul Mare, Salerno, Italy, in 1937 and was the fifth of six children. After spending a year in the Italian navy as part of his national service, he worked as a journalist with La Stampa in Turin and then as a technician and sales representative for typewriter manufacturer Olivetti. He moved to Vienna at age 21 to study languages, living in Germany from 1962 to 1975 and working as a wine merchant in Hamburg. He came to the United Kingdom in 1975 to work as a wine merchant, importing Italian wines before being offered the chance to work as the manager of Terence Conran's Neal Street Restaurant in London's Covent Garden in 1981. He became owner in 1989.
His first Carluccio's Caffe opened in 1998 and the business, which he and his then wife Priscilla co-founded with directors Simon Kossoff, Stephen Gee and Peter Webber, gradually became one of the UK's best-known casual dining chains. It now has around 120 sites both in this country and abroad. Carluccio and his fellow directors sold the business to Dubai-based Landmark Group seven years ago, and Carluccio subsequently acted as a consultant.
A statement from Carluccio's agent said: "It is with great sadness that we announce that Commendatore Antonio Carluccio OBE sadly passed away this morning."
In addition to creating his restaurant empire, Carluccio wrote 22 books and starred in TV programmes including Antonio Carluccio's Italian Feast and the BBC Two series Two Greedy Italians.
A host of chefs and hospitality industry figures took to social media to offer their tributes to Carluccio.
Chef Ken Hom said: "I am devastated to hear the news of my good friend, Antonio Carluccio's passing. He has been a dear friend and an inspiration to me for over 38 years and it is hard to imagine a future without his jovial smile and laughter which easily fills the room. But he was also a sweet and generous man and incredibly sharing which perfectly reflected the essence of Italian food. I will miss him greatly."
Brian Turner said he was sad for the loss of a "wonderful friend":
Sad to hear of the great loss of a wonderful friend today. I will miss you, thanks for your wonderful sense of humour Tweets by CookCarluccio xxx
— Brian Turner (@BrianTurnerChef)
Meanwhile, chef Will Torrent said the world was a "little less bright" after Carluccio's passing:
Saddened to hear of the death of Antonio Carluccio - the Godfather and King of Italian cuisine. The food world just got a little less bright. RIP pic.twitter.com/KHiRH0JNwK
And chef and restaurateur Tony Singh declared him the "godfather of Italian cuisine":
Very sad to hear of the passing of Tweets by CookCarluccio RIP the godfather of Italian Cusine
— Tony Singh MBE (@McTSingh)
Simon Kossoff, who spent 17 years working for the company, latterly as chairman, tweeted:
Will miss him. Raising a glass to Antonio pic.twitter.com/Vt0PsleDkQ
- Simon Kossoff (@Skossoff)
And James Martin added his voice to the tributes:
A top, top guy. Sadly missed by so many pic.twitter.com/N6lxT9kiiV
- James Martin (@jamesmartinchef)
The official account for the Carluccio's restaurant business tweeted:
We are incredibly saddened by the news that Antonio Carluccio passed away today. He was a huge inspiration to us & his energy & sense of humour will be greatly missed. https://t.co/3Cuhd8aII9pic.twitter.com/2W73Uk1Vp6
— Carluccio's (@Carluccios)
Chef Paul Foster said:
Such a shame, I had the privilege of working with Antonio on Saturday Kitchen my first time, he was really kind and supportive and offered me lots of advice to help my nerves, such a gent.
The culinary world has lost a legend. The godfather of Italian cuisine.
- Paul Foster (@Paulfosterchef)
Bocca di Lupo restaurant in London said:
Incredibly sad to hear of Antonio Carluccio's passing. He was a master of his art and will be sorely missed.
— Bocca di Lupo (@boccadilupo)
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