Celebrity chef and restaurateur Antonio Carluccio has died at home at the age of 80 on Wednesday, his agent has confirmed.
He was known for the Italian restaurant chain that carries his surname, which he co-founded in 1999. The chain has called him the 'Godfather of Italian cooking' and said he will be 'greatly missed'. It stated, 'It isn't just Antonio's name above our doors, but his heart and soul lives and breathes throughout our restaurants.'
Carluccio also appeared on TV programmes, including the BBC Two hit Two Greedy Italians, alongside chef Gennaro Contaldo, and wrote 22 best-selling cookery books.
Jamie Oliver paid tribute via Instagram: 'He was my first London Boss at the Neal Street restaurant 25 years ago, which was an institution and Mecca of wild mushrooms.
'He was such a charismatic charming don of all things Italian. Always hanging out the front door of the restaurant with a big fat cigar, a glass of something splendid and his amazing fuzzy white hair. Viva Antonio Carluccio... Cook a feast up there mate.'
Carliuccio was born in Salerno, Italy in 1937 and, as a child, he would hunt through the forest near his home for different mushrooms and fungi with his father. He came to the UK in 1975 to work as a wine merchant, importing Italian wines.
He then became the manager of Terence Conran's Neal Street Restaurant in Covent Garden in 1981, and he was named the runner-up Sunday Times Cook of the Year. He became its owner in 1989.
Carluccio opened a delicatessen next door to his Neal Street restaurant in 1991, but it wasn’t until 1998 that he started the first Carluccio’s Caffe.
The Carluccio’s chain has continued to expand across the UK and today operates from more than 80 locations. Carluccio sold his interest in the restaurant chain in 2005 but maintained some involvement.