Master of pasta a man of passion
Picture: Supplied

His cooking career started in the 1950s with the pasta he made for his flatmate on a two-ring gas stove.

This year, he brought out the latest in his impressive line of cookbooks - Antonio Carluccio's Pasta.

In between has been a restaurant empire morphing into a television career as a celebrity chef and such popular programs as Two Greedy Italians with his good friend Gennaro Contaldo.

So has his career come full circle? Is cooking pasta where his stellar career started and where it will finish? Carluccio demurs.

"I wouldn't say that pasta closes the circle," he said. "Because pasta goes on for ever. Pasta has conquered the world."

The beauty of this staple diet of Italians is that it can be prepared in minutes - by anybody, whatever their ethnicity, anywhere. Including Britain.

For almost 40 years, Carluccio has been cooking Italy's most iconic food in the UK. Many might think that's an odd choice for an Italian obsessed with cooking. After all, the British don't boast a deep history of appreciating fine cuisine. So what keeps him in the UK rather than, say, France or Spain? Or Italy itself?

"Britain is a very liberal country where one can express the most different of views and be respected," is Carluccio's reply.

"Secondly, through contact with enough people I have an enlarged view of life.

"Thirdly, the British are very receptive to suggestions that Italian food may be good for them!"

Similarly, the Brits have taken Carluccio to their hearts. He's been awarded an honorary OBE while his contribution to Italian cuisine has been marked with the equivalent of an Italian knighthood.

Carluccio's passion for cooking and good food saw him head a chain which today comprises almost 100 restaurants.

He sold the company in 2005 for almost $20 million (he is still its consultant) yet his life has not all been plain sailing.

There have been three marriages, three marriage break-ups. One near-tragic incident of stabbing himself in the chest and six suicide attempts - plus, a stay in that most famous of health retreats for Britain's rich and famous, The Priory. That was prompted by the depression he first suffered when he lived in Italy. He didn't seek treatment for decades but since he has, he's thankfully much better.

"The depression has gone totally," he said. "My present health is very good, thanks to regular check-ups with my doctor."

It transpires Carluccio has another reason for living in London - the city's convenience to travel the world.

"It allows it to be quicker for me to reach even Australia," he said.

Carluccio's visit for the Good Food & Wine Show will not be his first to WA.

"I have visited Australia probably 10 times," Carluccio said. "And yes, I have visited Perth before."

At 77, Carluccio continues to cook and write, travel and teach.

"A final retirement does not come into consideration at all because retirement is a little bit like dying," he said.

"As long as my brain works as well as the rest of my body, I will never be too tired to think, to experiment, and to talk about food."

Mark Irving

Antonio Carluccio appears at the Seven West Good Food Theatre presented by Ilve at 12.15pm and at 6pm on Friday, July 11, and at 1.30pm on Sunday, July 13.

The West Australian

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