Celebrity chef Antonio Carluccio dies aged 80

Antonio Carluccio, who has died at the age of 80, his agent has said
Antonio Carluccio, who has died at the age of 80, his agent has said

Celebrity chef and restaurateur Antonio Carluccio has died aged 80.

A statement from the Italian chef's agent said: "It is with great sadness that we announce that Commendatore Antonio Carluccio OBE sadly passed away this morning."

Queen Elizabeth II speaking with celebrity chef and restaurateur Antonio Carluccio in 2008. Picture by Fiona Hanson/PA Wire

Queen Elizabeth II speaking with celebrity chef and restaurateur Antonio Carluccio in 2008. Picture by Fiona Hanson/PA Wire

Carluccio, dubbed the Godfather of Italian gastronomy, was known for his restaurant chain Carluccio's and for appearing on BBC Two series Two Greedy Italians along with chef Gennaro Contaldo.

Carluccio opened the Neal Street Restaurant in Covent Garden in 1981, when he was named runner-up Sunday Times Cook of the Year.

The restaurant was patronised by the Prince of Wales and Sir Elton John and launched the career of Jamie Oliver before it closed in 2007.

He co-founded the high street restaurant chain Carluccio's in 1999 and was awarded the AA hospitality lifetime achievement award in 2012.

He later sold his interest in the restaurant chain but maintained involvement from a distance.

Brought up in the country's north-west region as one of six children, Carluccio briefly worked as a journalist in Turin before moving to Vienna and then Germany, and eventually to London to work as a wine merchant, before devoting himself to restaurants.

Carluccio has written more than a dozen books based on Italian food.

He received the Commendatore, the equivalent of a British knighthood, from the Italian government in 1998 for services to Italy.

In 2007, Carluccio received an OBE from the Queen for his services to the catering industry.