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Chef-Owner of Popular Italian Vegan Restaurant Has Died

Chef Antonio Rucco of Antonio’s Kitchen on Cambridge Heath Road died last month; the restaurant has closed

Antonio Rucco

Antonio Rucco, the chef-owner of a popular vegan Italian restaurant on Cambridge Heath Road in Bethnal Green, died last month. He was 39.

Antonio’s Vegan Kitchen, which opened last summer, had become a popular go-to east London venue for the city’s rapidly expanding vegan community.

The restaurant posted the news to its social media channels on Thursday 14 February. It followed a short post announcing the restaurant’s closure due to a medical emergency two days earlier. The cause of death has not been announced.

It is with great sadness that we must announce our chef and owner Antonio passed away on Tuesday. The restaurant will be closed permanently and we thank you for your love and support at this time.

The restaurant, decked out in plywood, and executed on a shoestring, had operated at 393 Cambridge Heath Road since the summer of 2018. It had relocated from Hackney Wick, where it started out selling vegan piadini, under the brand Piadina Genuina, in April 2017.

Antonio expanded the menu in Bethnal Green to include calzones and pastas, and vegan tiramisù.

Among the many messages of condolence posted on Instagram, a friend and neighbour of the chef said:

“This is incredibly saddening. I was Antonio’s neighbour and became his friend last summer when he was refurbishing this restaurant...this place was truly a labour of love...Antonio was a kind man who was deeply passionate about his craft. He deeply cared about his food and was surprisingly unassuming given his talent.

“... hope your friends and family are comforted at this time in the knowledge of the many lives you touched and the depth of feeling that has come from your passing. Farewell my friend.”