Celebrity chef Antonio Carluccio has died

Antonio Carluccio.

Antonio Carluccio.

    Celebrity chef Antonio Carluccio died on Wednesday. The Italian chef founded the Carluccio’s restaurant chain, and was awarded an OBE in 2007. He was 80.

Antonio Carluccio, the celebrity chef and founder of the Carluccio’s restaurant chain, has died aged 80.

The Italian chef’s death was confirmed by his agent, the Press Associated reported on Wednesday.

He founded his eponymous restaurant chain in 1999. Since then, Carluccio’s has opened almost 100 branches across the United Kingdom, with international outposts in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Carluccio was honoured with a Commendatore dell’Ordine al Merito – the equivalent to a British knighthood – by the Italian government in 1998, and with an OBE in 2007. He was regarded by many as the “godfather of Italian cooking,” according to a statement from Carluccio’s on Wednesday.

He first came to the UK in 1975 to work in the wine business. In 1981, he became the manager of Neal Street Restaurant in Covent Garden, London, and in 1989 became the owner, according to the Evening Standard. The restaurant, which closed in 2006, was one of Jamie Oliver’s first employers.

Carluccio also appeared on TV, such as the BBC’s “Two Greedy Italians,” and wrote more than a dozen books.

He was raised in the northwest of Italy, where he developed a love for hunting and collecting mushrooms, according to his website. He lived by a philosophy called MOF MOF – “minimum of fuss, maximum of flavour.”

The food writer William Sitwell wrote on Instagram: “I will so miss him. His filthy jokes, his amazing array of expresso (sic) machines, his collection of chilled and jarred mushrooms, his wonderful conversation, the strong Italian accent that never left him.

“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.”