The celebrity chef of Sicily's Katane Palace Hotel has been arrested for going into the weeds over his obsession with unorthodox Mediterranean ingredients.

Carmelo Chiaramonte was arrested in possession of two large marijuana plants and a kilogram of dried hemp leaves.

Among the other items seized by Italian police from his kitchen in Cantania were cannabis-infused olives, wines and even a marijuana marinated tuna fish.

The chef reportedly explained the cannabis plants were part of experiments with "new flavours".


Talking to La Sicilia newspaper the chef describe himself as an "agri-food consultant of the third millennium Mediterranean cuisine."

The 50-year-old chef who lives at the foot of Mt Etna in Sicily is inspired by the less celebrated aspects of Sicilian and Mediterranean cooking.

His website describes his cooking as inspired by the "aromatic nuances" and flavours of "the Mediterranean peoples."

As a television chef Chiaramonte has presented television shows that play on the edgy recipes and parts of Sicilian food culture. One recent appearance was for a show called Ricette immorali e cibi afrodisiaci , "Immoral Recipes and Aphrodisiac Foods" in which he is recorded as saying:

"A cook is a drug addict and an alchemist."

Parts of Italy were historically home to large cannabis plantations for industrial textile production, among other uses.

At the beginning of the year former Italian minister of the interior Matteo Salvini had declared a crackdown on 'recreational' cannabis shops that had sprung up around some of Southern Italy's more seedy tourist quarters.