Italian chef and Gourmet Escape favourite Antonio Carluccio dies age 80

Read more: Antonio Carluccio's pasta bowls

Celebrity chef, author and Italian cooking identity Antonio Carluccio has passed away, aged 80. 

The passing of the much-loved member of the Margaret River Gourmet Escape celebrity chef alumni was confirmed on by the website of Carluccio’s restaurant. 

"We are incredibly saddened by the news that Antonio Carluccio, our founder, passed away on Wednesday", the statement read. 

"Antonio built Carluccio's from one restaurant to the fantastic brand it is today. It isn't just Antonio's name above our doors, but his heart and soul lives and breathes throughout our restaurants."

"Antonio was an OBE, OMRI and a much loved and respected Italian cookery writer, cook, restaurateur, food expert and TV personality. He was regarded as the Godfather of Italian cooking.

“Antonio has been a huge inspiration to many of us and his energy, zest for life and sense of humour will be greatly missed."

Just last year the popular Gourmet Escape visitor appeared in the South West with WA Indigenous elder and performer Dr Richard Walley, starring in Six Seasons, six half-hour episodes focused on discovering native and foraged foods at various locations around the State.

“This provided me with a wonderful opportunity to forage in nature and see for myself how a great variety of foods I had not previously encountered were imaginatively prepared and shared,” Carluccio said. 

“Richard and I shared our deep knowledge of food and culture which, whilst our countries are at extreme geographical distance, we found that our philosophy of food and life was very close indeed.”

Carluccio spoke of his love for the Margaret River region, where he and Dr Walley filmed the sixth episode of the series.

“Margaret River is wonderful. The beauty of the place and the wonderful produce is what I like… the clean air is incredible. It’s a wonderful part of the world.”

Fond memories from the Australian restaurant industry

Neil Perry, restaurateur and chef

"I first met Antonio at the Blue Water Grill [Bondi] in 1986. It is fair to say we were both much much younger. I have subsequently run into him at events, shared tables with him and watched him on TV. The overall impression is of a generous person who loved life as much as he loved cooking. He was, and will always be, in my memory larger than life.  May he rest in peace."

Guy Grossi, Grossi Florentino, Melbourne

"Once, many years ago, we were sharing a bowl of tripe. He had a well-used black book with him. I asked, your book of recipes? To which he replied: 'My boy, my recipes are in my heart, hands and mind! This is my book of jokes.' He was not joking. Hundreds of them, all alphabetically catalogued. A great man and inspiration to so many. He will be missed, and never forgotten."

Matt Preston, food writer and MasterChef judge

"So many memories! Eating with him in Florence when he was filming MasterChef with us – he orchestrated everything we ate like the culinary maestro he was. Lunch in Little Collins Street with him and Michel Roux during Melbourne Food and Wine Festival as they teased each other about why French or Italian was the greater cuisine. Watching him visit and chat with every one of the 60+ tables at the festival's gala dinner at Prahran Market. Such a generous beautiful and very funny man... I could go on. It was like sitting in the sun being around him."

George Calombaris, chef and MasterChef judge

"I shared a boat trip with him from Amsterdam to Budapest. The food on the boat was really terrible so we bought some mushrooms and a packet of rice and I was running around like Antonio's commis chef. I'll never forget him shouting at me when I was about to deglaze the pan with white wine, saying 'That's not how we do it'. He was an absolute legend."

Sandy Grant, CEO of Hardie Grant Publishing and Quadrille

"Antonio was one of the all-time great food communicators and our most prolific author. He was able to pass his passion and enthusiasm for all that is best about Italian food to his readers and any television or live audience. He was a friend to the foodie community across the world. I can talk to the friends and supporters he made on his many trips to Australia. His warmth charm and humour will be missed."

Poh Ling Yeow, cook, author and artist

"There are so many simple but important things he made stick in my head – to cherish art in my life and to abide by his cooking motto of MOF: minimum of fuss, maximum of flavour."

- With Goodfood Australia