Antonio Carluccio obituary | Life and style

Antonio Carluccio, who has died aged 80, was a standard-bearer for Italian cooking. His voice, his accent and his appearance seemed tailor-made for the role of lovable and ebullient son of the soil with a generous passion for good food. His many television programmes and more than 20 books explored facets of his homeland’s culinary life, touching on literature, history and wild foods (particularly mushrooms), as well as offering reliable instruction in the classic and regional dishes of Italy. At the same time, his Neal Street Restaurant in Covent Garden, London, and a growing number of restaurants and delicatessens around the world trading under the name of Carluccio’s made his brand unmissable.

Antonio’s father, Giovanni Carluccio, was a stationmaster on the Italian state railway who came from a family of bookbinders in Benevento, north-east of Naples, but who took up a railway career as a result of connections of his wife, Maria (nee Trivellone). A series of small halts and junctions was punctuated by the births of six children, each claiming a different town of origin. Antonio, the fifth child, was born in Vietri sul Mare, near Salerno, on the Amalfi coast. He was still an infant when the family moved north, to Piedmont. It was in the Val d’Aosta, which stretches into the Alps north-west of Turin, that he imbibed something of the lore of foraging.

At Home with Antonio Carluccio

Carluccio did not discover his true metier for many years, indeed not until he arrived in Britain in 1975. Before that he had accumulated a miscellaneous portfolio of occupations in Italy, Austria, Germany and Spain. Soon after leaving school he spent a year at a naval academy in Sardinia, but returned home to brief stints as a hair-oil salesman, then cub newspaper reporter in Turin, with the Gazzetta del Popolo and La Stampa, before finding settled employment with the typewriter manufacturers Olivetti, a significant player in the north Italian postwar industrial boom,…

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