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The godfather of Italian cuisine: Antonio Carluccio's perfect pizza

25 APRIL 2013

You may know Antonio Carluccio for his tight silver-curled hair, his thick authentic Italian accent and charming way of cutting open a lemon straight from the tree, or rustling up a mouth-watering meal on an Italian terrace with fellow Italian cook and friend Gennari Contaldo.

If not, you'll know the godfather of Italian cuisine for his lovely eponymous Italian restaurant chain, Carluccio's, which he says he opened "to show people they can eat simple, decent food with nice surroundings and nice smiley service for a fair price."

HELLO! Online talks exclusively to Carluccio about what he knows best: Italian gastronomy, his key to the best pizza, and he even shares three authentic Italian recipes – pizza, pasta and panettone – for you to create at home.

 

carluccio

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The man who brought Italian food to the UK gave celebrity chef Jamie Oliver his first ever job as a pastry chef in Carluccio's Neal Street restaurant, has written thirteen books on his home country's cuisine and become a regular on TV's food scene. He's appeared on the Food and Drink Programme, in his own series Antonio Carluccio's Italian Feasts and more recently the BBC series Two Greedy Italians.

When talking to the UK's most famous exponent of Italian food, for which he has been awarded an OBE, we have one burning question.

What's your secret to the perfect pizza?
The softly-spoken cook (not chef) puts it simply: good ingredients, and not many of them. "Now," he says, "the perfect pizza still remains for me the same, the margherita pizza which is the most simple, with good flour and yeast. Let the dough raise very well, then flatten it. Don’t put too many things on top, people tend to overdo it and then the pizza doesn’t cook. A little bit of tomato and mozzarella and a little bit of basil and that's it, Bob's me Uncle."

Have a go at Carluccio and Contaldo's La vera pizza Napoletana:

 

italian food

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For the man who sold his shares of Carluccio's for £5million in 2005, food is understandably his 'passion'.

What does food really mean to him?
He quotes an old Italian chef who once said that "procreation and food are on the same level, one without the other is impossible," explaining that he loves food and cooking because it "connects cultures".

Recipe: traditional tortellini emiliani

 

pasta

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Which of Italy's regions has the best food?
Born in the Amalfi Coast and raised in the north, Carluccio will know. Especially having explored the country for Two Greedy Italians, which the 76-year-old says, "was a lot of fun, but hard work."

"Italy is made of 20 regions and each one has its own food. You can eat in every region something completely different, but extremely well," he says in his softly-spoken manner, quoting Puglia for its olive oil and Tuscany for its vegetables grown in the countryside to perfection. Not to mention the traditional Neapolitan pizza from Naples.

Recipe: zuccotto de panettone

 

italian recipes

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As big fans of the scrambled eggs with sautéed mushrooms on the Carluccio's breakfast menu, we have to ask, how do they taste so great?

Carluccio, who still works closely with the team despite having sold his shares in 2005, says: "You just have to pay attention. When you have them in the pan, just stir them, and don't leave it too long or they'll become too hard.

They just need a very short time and then you have lovely creamy eggs, otherwise they become like pollyfilla. It's just a question of controlling the temperature." Thanks Antonio, but we're not sure it'll be that easy.

 

Interview by Miriam Foley
Two Greedy Italians
by Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo, published by Quadrille Publishing

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