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Italian Restaurant ‘Godfather’ Antonio Carluccio Has Died at 80

Nigella Lawson among those to pay tribute to the man whose name changed Italian high street dining

The World Premiere Of 'The Italian Job' in HD
Antonio Carluccio, pictured in 2008
Photo by Rosie Greenway/Getty Images

The legendary chef, restaurateur, author and TV personality Antonio Carluccio has died at the age of 80. The news has been confirmed by the Carluccio’s restaurant group — the one he founded in 1999 — on Twitter.

The chef’s first restaurant — Neal Street Restaurant — was taken over by Carluccio and his wife, Priscilla Conran, the younger sister of restaurateur Terence Conran (who opened the restaurant) in 1981. It was at this restaurant, popular with celebrities and artists before it closed in March 2007, where one Jamie Oliver first launched his cooking career.

10 years ago Carluccio was awarded an OBE by the Queen, recognising his contribution to catering services, food and culture in the UK. A year later, he was named a “Commendatore,” the Italian equivalent of a British knighthood, from the Italian government. Most recently, he appeared alongside Oliver’s mentor, Gennaro Contaldo, in the BBC 2 TV series Two Greedy Italians.

Although he was synonymous with the Carluccio’s high street chain because of his name — and the many books he published in conjunction with the brand — it is thought that its creation and roll-out was much more the work of Priscilla. The number of Carluccio’s nationwide now totals 96.

Tributes from within the industry were led by food writer William Sitwell who on Instagram said: “The saddest news. One of the loveliest people, and a really wonderful 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.”

Author and celebrity chef Nigella Lawson said on Twitter, “Riposi in pace” — Italian for rest in peace — next to a black heart.

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