The beloved late Italian chef Antonio Carluccio, celebrated as the man who taught the British the pleasures of authentic Italian cuisine, is getting his own permanent exhibition space at Oxford Brookes University in Oxford, U.K.
The “godfather of Italian gastronomy” will be remembered through a vast collection of recipes, notes, photos, cookbooks and artifacts he gathered through the course of his life. They will be exhibited for the first time in a permanent space within the university’s library as part of Oxford Brookes’ Special Collections and Archives.
The display aims to show both the professional and personal aspects of Carluccio’s life, to highlight the chef's artistic and innovative side, and his multidisciplinary approach that allowed him to spread the love for food, and for Italian cuisine in particular, to a global audience.
Carluccio’s personal library of 800 books on food writing spanning the 16th to early 21st century, including 32 books he wrote or co-wrote, will be part of the permanent collection, which will also include Antonio's handwritten notes and drafts, and press clippings that show the impact he had on the gastronomic scene in the 1980s and ‘90s. There will also be films of his television appearances, including BBC2’s Food and Drink program, his first independent series Antonio Carluccio’s Italian Feasts and his last show, Antonio’s Six Seasons.
Also held in the archive are Antonio’s OBE, Commendatore (an Italian Knighthood) and OMRI (Order of Merit of the Italian Republic); and correspondence including a letter from Mikhail Gorbachev to thank Antonio for a mushroom book, in which he likens foraging to 'the quiet hunt,’ which became the subtitle for Antonio's second mushroom book.
A native of Vietri sul Mare on the Amalfi Coast, where he was born in 1937, Carluccio emigrated with his family to northern Italy, and, in 1975, to London on his own where he first worked as a wine importer. He then became the manager of Terence Conran's Neal Street restaurant in Covent Garden, at the time one of the first to make quality cuisine in the British capital.
In 1989, Carluccio took over from Conran as the owner (fun fact: he hired and taught the art of Italian cuisine to a promising young Brit, Jamie Oliver, now one of the UK's most successful celebrity chefs).
In 1991, Carluccio opened the first of what would become the Carluccio’s chain of Italian restaurants and delis, restaurants that popularized quality Italian cuisine and that also have a rotisserie and general store sector where customers can buy food. This is common nowadays in London and elsewhere, but Carluccio’s restaurants have stood the test of time and continue to have great success.