‘Godfather’ of Italian cooking, Antonio Carluccio, dead at 80

The man who helped bring Italian home cooking to Britain, Antonio Carluccio, has died at the age of 80.

'Godfather' of Italian cooking, Antonio Carluccio, dead at 80
Antonio Carluccio with Prince Charles in 2015. Photo: Greg Wood/Pool/AFP

The chef and restauranteur passed away on Wednesday morning, his website announced.

Carluccio was born in Vietri Sul Mare, near Salerno, but grew up in the north-west of Italy.

He attributed his life-long love of fresh ingredients – and especially mushrooms – to foraging in the hills of Piedmont as a child.

“My first memory is of my mamma cooking,” Carluccio told The Guardian in 2012. 

“We were living above the railway station in Castelnuovo Belbo where papa was station master, and mamma would send me downstairs to see when the last train before lunch was coming, then within five minutes – just before papa sat down – she'd cook fresh pasta.”


I've always had a thirst for knowledge. Here I am aged eleven happily ensconced in my books. #8daysinthelifeofantonio

A post shared by Antonio Carluccio (@cookcarluccio) on Apr 13, 2017 at 9:24am PDT

As an adult Carluccio moved to Austria and Germany before settling in the UK, where he used his knowledge of Italian food culture to establish himself as a restaurateur, author and TV personality.

His eponymous chain of Italian restaurants and delis has more than 80 locations in the UK, as well as franchises in Ireland and the Middle East.

He authored more than 20 cookbooks and made multiple TV shows, all dedicated to teaching Brits how to cook and eat like Italians.

“In Italy teenagers go home for dinner – it's where they can discuss their problems,” he said. “This is something often missing in Britain.

“Most of my happiest memories are at table.”

In 1998 Italy awarded Carluccio the title of Commendatore dell’Ordine al merito della Repubblica Italiana, its highest honour, for his services to the Italian food industry. He also received an Order of the British Empire in 2007. 


A post shared by Antonio Carluccio (@cookcarluccio) on Aug 9, 2017 at 7:46am PDT


La Bella Vita: Pasta, coffee, and the signs you’re becoming Italian

From how your eating habits become more Italian (without you even realising it) to the best ways to prepare and drink coffee, our new weekly newsletter La Bella Vita offers you an essential starting point for eating, talking, drinking and living like an Italian.

La Bella Vita: Pasta, coffee, and the signs you're becoming Italian

La Bella Vita is our regular look at the real culture of Italy – from language to cuisine, manners to art. This new newsletter will be published weekly and you can receive it directly to your inbox, by going to newsletter preferences in ‘My Account’ or follow the instructions in the newsletter box below.

The longer you spend in Italy, the more you might find yourself adapting to Italian culture in ways you didn’t expect. For Brits like me, that might mean swapping your tea with milk for black espresso. For Americans it could be that your tastebuds have slowly become less accustomed to spicy foods (good tacos are, sadly, hard to find in Italy). And you’ve heard all about the tomatoes, but are you eating more lentils yet?

Once you find yourself eating pasta on an almost daily basis and reacting to the idea of fast food with a heartfelt ‘che schifo!’ you’ll know there’s really no going back. These are just some of the eating and drinking habits you might see change over time:

17 ways your eating and drinking habits change when you live in Italy

With all that pasta in mind, if you want to make sure your favourite recipe is executed in truly flawless Italian style we’ve got some expert advice on nailing the technique for saucing all of your pasta dishes correctly every time – and there’s more to it than you might expect.

Ask an Italian: How do you sauce pasta properly?

And then there’s the coffee. Whether you prefer yours from an espresso machine or the iconic stovetop moka coffee pot – personally I find it hard to pick a favourite – everyone who’s spent even a short time in Italy knows there’s an art to preparing and drinking coffee all’italiana

This rich tradition comes with a set of rules and norms that can be hard to navigate if you weren’t born in the country, so here’s our complete guide to where, when and how to drink coffee like a true Italian.

Where, when and how to drink coffee like an Italian

A shot of dark, velvety coffee is more than just a quick caffeine hit: Italy’s espresso is a prized social and cultural ritual the country considers a part of its national heritage. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)

The weather has taken a turn for the worse this week and many parts of northern Italy are experiencing freezing temperatures and snow. It sounds obvious now, but before I moved to Italy I didn’t realise just how bitterly cold it gets, and my first winter in Tuscany was a bit of a shock. Luckily, Italians from around the peninsula share a love of talking – or complaining – about cold and wet weather so there were plenty of people ready to commiserate.

Here are ten Italian phrases you can throw into your weather-related conversations during these chilly days:

Ten phrases to talk about cold and wet weather in Italian

And have you noticed how some Italian translations of English-language film titles bear very little resemblance to the original? I first realised this when an Italian friend told me how they always watched something called ‘Mamma ho perso l’aereo’ at Christmas, and described the plot, which sounded identical to that of Home Alone…

From the very literal to the improbable, here’s a non-exhaustive list of our favourite Italian movie title translations.

Puns and plot spoilers: How English movie titles are translated into Italian

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Is there an aspect of the Italian way of life you’d like to see us write more about on The Local? Please email me at [email protected].