Celebrity chef and restaurateur Antonio Carluccio has died aged 80, his agent has said.

The Italian chef was known for his chain Carluccio’s, which was founded in 1999 and has 96 restaurants across the UK.

It is with great sadness that we announce that Commendatore Antonio Carluccio OBE sadly passed away this morning, said a statement from his agent.

Carluccio has written 22 books which have been published worldwide, and appeared in TV programmes including The Two Greedy Italians along with chef Gennaro Contaldo, Antonio Carluccio’s Italian Feast and Southern Italian Feast.

He was honoured for his services to Italy in 1998 when was made a Commendatore, which is the Italian equivalent of a knighthood.

He went on to receive an OBE from the Queen in 2007 for his services to the catering industry.

Carluccio’s restaurant chain has said it is incredibly saddened by the news of his passing.

It isn’t just Antonio’s name above our doors, but his heart and soul lives and breathes throughout our restaurants.

He was regarded as the Godfather of Italian cooking.

Carluccio was named runner-up Sunday Times Cook of the Year in 1981, the same year he opened the Neal Street Restaurant in London’s Covent Garden, which went on to trade for 26 years.

The restaurant was frequented by Prince Charles and Sir Elton John, and launched the career of TV chef Jamie Oliver.

Carluccio was brought up in Italy’s northwest as one of six children and went on to briefly become a journalist in Turin.

He eventually moved to London and became a wine merchant after living in Vienna and Germany, before ultimately dedicating himself to restaurants and cooking.

Celebrity chef Gino D’Acampo has paid tribute on Twitter, saying: I’d like to dedicate tonight’s episode of ‘Italian Coastal Escape’ to my good friend Antonio @CookCarluccio.

Sending all my love to his family. I will remember the good times we had together xxxx.

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

My thoughts go out to his family. Sadly missed, Martin said in a statement.

Nigella Lawson simply wrote: Riposi in pace (Rest in peace).

(c) Sky News 2017: Celebrity chef Antonio Carluccio has died

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