Antonio Carluccio Visits Chiswick

Italian chef says his mother was his inspiration as he launches latest book

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Eating out in Chiswick


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Celebrity chef Antonio Carluccio visited Chiswick yesterday (Thursday, April 26th) to promote his latest book ‘Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy’. Often referred to as the ‘Godfather of Italian cooking,’ he was greeted by dozens of local fans eager to hear his cooking secrets.

The Italian-born chef turned 75 last week and shows no signs of easing up on his work. Having toured Italy for the second time with his friend Gennarro Contaldo for the BBC 2 series ,he is putting the finishing touches to his autobiography which will be published in October. After that he plans a compilation of his favourite recipes.

“I can’t imagine myself being retired” says Antonio, who recalled that many years ago he used to work in Chiswick in Bollo Lane at a wine outlet.

“I enjoy visiting Chiswick though I have not been here for some time”.

“In fact the area around Carluccio’s on the High Road has changed so much since my time here, it’s so busy now”.

Antonio has lived in London since 1975 and now lives in Putney. While he regularly visits family in Italy, he loves living in London and has no plans to retire to his native land.

Customers at the High Road restaurant which still bears his name were eager to ask him who first inspired him to learn to cook and there was no hesitation in his answer.

“My mother is responsible for my passion in cooking. She was a wonderful woman- of course in Italy, all the mothers cooked simple but amazing food with the most humble of ingredients.

“And it was not always easy, you know we are talking about wartime . But cooking is an art of love. I feel sad when I see that families are not having mealtimes together anymore. Even in Italy many of the children are eating fast- food and becoming obese”, he told

Asked what his favourite childhood dish was he said that it was his mother’s recipe for pasta with potato.

Antonio was born in Vietri sul Mare in the province of Salerno. His father was the railway station master and he moved with his family to Castel Nuovo Belbo and then to Borgofranco D'Ivrea, both in Piedmont. Antonio was always the food hunter of the family and learnt his passion for mushrooms from his father’s friends in the hills around his home.

The message in his latest book is that Italian food should be simple, but people should buy the best quality they can afford.

“Even with a low budget you can make create something delicious, and also it’s important to use leftovers up- there are many wonderful dishes to be made”.

Unlike the British, he says Italians put taste first and are not prepared to compromise in favour of something quick and convenient.

As he tucked into some polpette ( meatballs), and stuffed peppers, he said the menu in Carluccio’s was chosen to use the very best of Italian produce, and to import good quality foodstuffs to the UK.

“When we started the idea was to have a place that was between a cafe and a restaurant, where you could come even at lunchtime and have a coffee or a snack, without having to buy a three- course meal."

Antonio Carluccio’s first appearance on the BBC was in 1987 and at the same time he was asked to write his first book, 'An Invitation to Italian Cooking'. Subsequently he has written thirteen books, published worldwide.

He has received the Commendatore Omri for service to Italian gastronomy and in January 2007 he received an honorary OBE.

After ten years developing the Carluccio’s caffè business alongside Priscilla Carluccio, Antonio has wound down his direct involvement with the chain, though he continues to work with the team on menu development and chef training.

The four-part series on BBC2 will return to screens on May 10th and 17th.

In the series, Antonio and Gennaro return to Italy, beginning in the southern region of Calabria, where they reminisce about their favourite childhood meals.

They move from the mountains to the coast and then to the plains to discover local specialities including recipes for orzotto - a pork and pearl barley risotto, fish stew, recipes using local catch of mullet and swordfish, bread dumplings in beef soup, and rice cake flavoured with orange.

Antonio says the recipes are based on the ordinary dishes of the people and make good use of local and foraged produce And he maintains that even in recession, it is possible to eat well.

"I recently showed some people, who did not have much money, how to make a can of baked beans more exciting. We added some oil, garlic, chilli and herbs. We ate it with bread and it was fantastic."

Anne Flaherty

April 27, 2012