First Impressions: Antonio Carluccio
Born in Italy, Antonio Carluccio lives in the UK where his cookery books and restaurants have revolutionised British eating habits. He was awarded an OBE in 2007 and already holds the Italian equivalent of a knighthood for his contribution to the Ita
What are you working on at the moment?
Yesterday I finished compiling 20 recipes for offal. I've taken the pieces of an animal that are wasted and cooked them in a way that everybody can cook them.
When were you at your happiest?
I have many happy moments to recall, like when I received an unexpected OBE from the British Government.
What is your greatest fear?
Ignorant people. I can't deal with them.
What is your earliest memory?
I have just finished my autobiography and I am very proud to have done it because I really wanted to see who I am.
Who has been your greatest influence?
What do you most dislike about yourself?
What is your most treasured possession?
I have a collection of old bits and pieces from around the world or that were given to me as presents. They're all in a big collage on the wall.
What trait do you most deplore in others?
Chefs on TV who just want to become stars. Often you see somebody cooking, but cooking saying, 'Here I am, this is me' and the food comes second.
Do you have a fantasy address?
I'm quite happy where I am. My house isn't too near roads and outside it looks like a cottage with a wonderful garden. But above all, it has three spaces for parking, which is very rare in London.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I was fat, but in the last two years I have lost 20kg. I still have all my hair, it's white, but that's OK. I see so many bald people, this confi rms I am still young.
What is your all-time favourite book?
Phillip Pullman, His Dark Materials. It was wonderful.
What is your favourite film?
It would have to be about food: Babette's Feast remains one of the best.
Your favourite record or piece of music?
I would say the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto.
Your favourite meal?
Something very simple, with fresh tomatoes, a bit of garlic, olive oil, basil and some lovely spaghetti. The taste and sheer freshness, that's wonderful. Not complicated, it's very simple and nice.
Who would you most like to come to dinner?
He died, but Peter Ustinov. Usually I would like to have a woman, but when you dine, you can't talk of love all the time. I think he was very intelligent and funny.
Which historical character do you most admire?
Garibaldi. Funnily enough, I met his daughter. I was about 15 or 17 and I was in school. The family had a house nearby, and I remember in the 1950s she was 92. And we, the representatives of the school, brought her a cake for her birthday. And it was incredible for me to study him [Garibaldi] at school, and to meet his daughter.
What is the nastiest thing anyone has ever said to you?
There were various tough things, they mostly have to do with projects and the end of my last marriage, but I don't like to talk about that.
Do you believe in aliens?
I believe that in the Universe, some other people, some other creatures live out there because it is too simplistic to believe that we are the only ones. I am not religious. I try to believe in myself, something I doubted for a bit.
What is your secret vice?
I'm still smoking. I don't drink, I don't take drugs... I love women, and that's what I've done all my life.
Do you write thank-you notes?
I am probably one of the last computer-illiterate people. I send the odd message by telephone or I write a letter.
Which phrase do you most overuse?
La natura di verita. It means 'the truth in Nature', which should be taken seriously. I believe in Nature, that's all. And I believe in all of Nature because I am very attached to it: country, mushrooms, flowers and fruit and fish...
What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
What would you like your epitaph to say?
I loved everybody (mostly women).
Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy, by Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo (Quadrille, £20).
Daily tip from the lady archive
"DEEPLY-ROOTED is the idea that men are indifferent to dress, while the ladies, God bless them, think of nothing else"The Lady, With Prejudice, 8th January, 1942