The popular saying in Italy Everyone loves to eat, therefore, everyone is part Italian has been brought to life by the extremely popular T.V. chef, Antonio Carluccio, who is perhaps the most famous Italian chef alive today. He was born in 1937 on the Amalfi Coast in Italy; however, Antonio grew up in Piedmont located in the heavily wooded northwestern part of Italy. At the age of 7 his father taught him to hunt mushrooms and other funghi. Some of his fondest memories of his father center around their mutual love of hunting, collecting and cooking mushroom and funghi based dishes. Antonio moved to Venice at the age of 21 and shared an apartment with a good friend. He began cooking pasta dishes on a tiny two burner stove. It is at this time that he developed a deep passion and respect for the foods of Italy. As his passion grew he developed a comprehensive knowledge of fine Italian food and wine. His expanding knowledge of food preparation and Italian wines led him first to Germany then London. While he was learning English he supported himself by selling fine Italian wines. During his forage of the wooded land around London he discovered several varieties of mushrooms that were, for the most part, unknown even to the local residents. In 1981, he purchased Neal Street Restaurant in Covent Garden in London where he worked for the next 26 years. His first television appearance was in 1983 on the BBC 2 network. He talked about his love of food from his native Italy. As a result of that appearance he was asked by a publisher to write a cookbook. To date, he has published 13 cookbooks and starred in his own T.V. show on BBC 2 called Antonio Carluccio's Northern Italian Feast and Southern Italian Feast. His wild gray hair, gruff voice, kind nature and vast knowledge of the culinary cuisine of Italy won him thousands of fans across Europe.In 1991, he opened a deli next door to the Neal Street Restaurant which he called Carluccio's Caff in Market Place, London. The popularity of Carluccio's Caff has created such growth that it is today one of the largest Italian restaurant franchises in the UK. Ten years later, in 2001, he stepped down as the director of the Carluccio's Caff although he still works with the staff to develop new recipes. Antonio Carluccio is so popular in Italy that in 1998 the President of Italy bestowed him with Commendatore OMRI also known as the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy, which is the equal to British Knighthood, for Italian gastronomy. He was also awarded an honorary OBE in 2007. The reigning sovereign awards the Order of the British Empire on the advice of the government.
Chef Carluccio passionately believes that there is always something new to learn about the food and cooking traditions of Italy.