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Antonio Carluccio: the man who brought Italian food to the UK

Antonio Carluccio: the man who brought Italian food to the UK

by Great British Chefs 08 November 2017

As news breaks on the passing of the celebrity chef and restaurateur, we take a look at the impact he had on the British food scene and share some of his beautiful recipes.

The culinary world lost one of its greats today. Antonio Carluccio passed away aged eighty, after a life dedicated to spreading the word about authentic Italian cuisine across the UK. With an incredible twenty cookery books to his name, the godfather of Italian food was also the founder of the hugely successful Carluccio’s chain of restaurants, which since 1999 have celebrated regional Italian cooking.

Today, Italian food is the most cooked international cuisine in the UK, with 96% of home cooks serving it up every week. This is thanks to people like Antonio, who since moving to the UK in 1975 – when Italian food was ‘quite primitive’, in his words – made it his mission to educate and inform people about real Italian dishes.

Originally from Salerno in Italy, he spent his childhood hunting for mushrooms in the forest with his father, before moving to Vienna to study languages. His first taste of the culinary world was when he lived in Germany working as an Italian wine buyer, which eventually led to his move to the UK. But it wasn’t until he became manager of Terence Conran’s Neal Street Restaurant in 1981 (where a young Jamie Oliver began his career) that he truly became a champion of Italian cooking. This led to an OBE in 2007, and an AA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. He was also named as a commendatore by the Italian government in 1998.

Antonio was also a regular face on television, starring in series such as Antonio Carluccio’s Italian Feasts in 1996 and Two Greedy Italians (with co-star Gennaro Contaldo) in 2011. His latest cookbook, Antonio Carluccio’s Pasta, was published in 2014 – a fantastic addition to his already rich collection of writing. Italian food in the UK has gone from plates of bastardised spag bol to a celebrated cuisine that we simply can't get enough of – a shift that would've certainly put a smile on Antonio's face.

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