Celebrity chef Antonio Carluccio has died aged 80.

The restaurateur, dubbed the Godfather of Italian Gastronomy, died after falling at his home, his agent has said.

He was known for his restaurant chain Carluccio's and a double act with chef Gennaro Contaldo in the BBC TV show Two Greedy Italians.

The chef had more work in the pipeline and was planning a trip across Italy's Amalfi Coast
next year, his representative said.


He was also working on a number of books and was in talks to appear on the BBC's Saturday Kitchen.

Jamie Oliver, who worked with him at his Neal Street Restaurant in London, gave a heartfelt tribute to his former boss this evening.

Writing on Instagram, he said: "With great sadness I've heard that Antonio Carluccio passed away this morning.

"He was such a charismatic charming don of all things Italian! Always hanging out the front door of the restaurant with a big fat Cigar [and] a glass of something splendid and his amazing fuzzy white hair.

"Viva Antonio Carluccio, cook a feast up there mate."

Nigella Lawson tweeted the Italian for rest in peace: "Riposi in pace."

Carluccio's publicist told the Mirror: "I adored him, we are all devastated. His family are so upset. He wasn't ill, he was on bubbly form when I last saw him."

The Italian chef was an effervescent character, full of culinary knowledge that was regularly used on TV shows - and his off-screen life was just as colourful.

Carluccio, who arrived in Britain in 1975, was married three times. His final relationship was with archaeologist Sabine Stevenson, who was more than 20 years his junior, but they never wed.

He co-founded high street restaurant chain Carluccio's in 1999 and sold his interest in it in 2005 for £5 million ($9.4m) but maintained involvement from a distance.

Carluccio, who received an OBE from the Queen for his services to the catering industry, wrote more than a dozen books based on Italian food.

Brought up in the country's northwest region as one of six children, Carluccio briefly worked as a journalist in Turin before moving to Vienna and then Germany.

Carluccio eventually moved to London to work as a wine merchant, before devoting himself to restaurants.

He 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 Oliver before it closed in 2007.

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

The Queen chats with Carluccio during a reception she hosted for the British Hospitality Industry at Buckingham Palace in London. Photo / Getty Images
The Queen chats with Carluccio during a reception she hosted for the British Hospitality Industry at Buckingham Palace in London. Photo / Getty Images

He was given the AA hospitality lifetime achievement award in 2012 and lived in a bungalow in southwest London after selling his share in the Carluccio's chain.

He wrote in his 2012 autobiography, A Recipe For Life, how he sought relief from misery in whisky, gambling and suicide attempts as his 28-year marriage to designer Sir Terence Conran's sister Priscilla collapsed in 2008.

Before Priscilla, he was married to Gerda whom he followed to Vienna from Italy in 1962. They divorced in 1975.

His second wife was Francesca, but he soon realised their union in the 1970s was a mistake.

In his later years he shared his life with an archaeologist, Sabine, who was more than 20 years his junior.

In 2012 he revealed the full extent of the depression that had plagued him for decades and led to six attempts to take his own life.

On one occasion the chef tried to stab himself to death with a pair of scissors and then lied, claiming he had been cut accidentally.

TV chef James Martin also paid tribute to him today saying: "It was a privilege and an honour to have met and worked with Antonio, one of the true greats of TV chefs.

"His passion and commitment to both the restaurant business and to television was lifelong. He was a giant in the food world and he helped bring Italian food to the masses around the world. My thoughts go out to his family. Sadly missed."

A statement from the Carluccio's restaurant chain said: "We are incredibly saddened by the news that Antonio Carluccio, our founder, passed away on Wednesday.

"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."