Shaper: Antonio Carluccio

Show aired on 27th August 2016

Transcript

Elliot Moss
Mavis Staples with Son Of A Preacher Man. Good morning this is Jazz Shapers with me, Elliot Moss here on Jazz FM. We’ve got a big one today here on this wonderful programme. It’s where of course if you don’t already know you can hear the very best of the people who are shaping the world of jazz, blues and soul and I bring in a fantastic person from the world of business, we call them a Business Shapers and some people need very little introduction and this is one of them, it is the man himself, Antonio Carluccio. He is a chef, he is a restauranteur, he’s an author…

Antonio Carluccio
I am not a chef.

Elliot Moss
He’s not a chef anymore, he was a chef.

Antonio Carluccio
Never.

Elliot Moss
Never.

Antonio Carluccio
No I am a cook.

Elliot Moss
He is a cook. Right we are already arguing, fantastic, this is going to be such fun. You are going to be hearing even more from my wonderful and special Business Shaper today, he didn’t need much introduction indeed it has proved to be true. In addition to hearing from Antonio you will be hearing from our programme partners at Mishcon de Reya some words of advice for your business and then of course we have got some brilliant music to mix in today with Mr Carluccio; we are going to have some Billy Taylor, Ella Fitzgerald and this, it’s new music from the Branford Marsalis Quartet and Kurt Elling.

A really fantastic one there, Doxy from the Branford Marsalis Quartet and Kurt Elling. As you would have heard earlier because he introduced himself as I thought he might, Antonio Carluccio is my Business Shaper today here on Jazz Shapers; cook not chef, restauranteur, writer, about twenty three cook books, probably found in most houses of those of you listening, certainly in mine.

Antonio Carluccio
I hope so.

Elliot Moss
I hope so too. Thank you for coming here. You are looking splendid.

Antonio Carluccio
Listen it is big, big pleasure for me although jazz is not… I am not a fanatic of jazz but I love it. You know the sort of conundrum, love it big like classic, I love all that but jazz, it’s good jazz.

Elliot Moss
Good jazz is good.

Antonio Carluccio
It is fantastic.

Elliot Moss
Antonio we’ve only just met obviously. You are one of those characters that’s larger than life, you see the energy in your eyes, you see the passion without saying a word I get a sense of this very special person in front of me. You grew up, you were born in the South of Italy, you grew up in the North of Italy. Where did the passion for food come from? Why is food the thing that lights you up and why has it always been that?

Antonio Carluccio
Generally the Italian believe that food is the second best thing in life. And as such you are to pay attention obviously. In fact it was one chef, Pellegrino Tuzi in his book he is saying that procreation and food they are the most important thing, one is not possible without the other so you can figure it out then. And so looking at that the Italian they look at food as a something pleasure. When you eat it has to be pleasure otherwise it doesn’t have any sense. It has to be pleasure in enjoying the food, with the taste, quantity it’s okay but if you can share it with other people it’s wonderful and that’s the main thing while it takes Italian to choose and then make all possible to produce good food.

Elliot Moss
But from a very young age you were into it…

Antonio Carluccio
Oh yeah.

Elliot Moss
…people talk about the bit of finding the mushrooms and the… and all that…

Antonio Carluccio
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
Where your mother and father, you call him Papa.

Antonio Carluccio
They were, they were wonderful yes. Imagine that having lived in a station because Papa was station master of the railway. When I was five I remember my mother, we were by the station, was sending me down into the office to see if the train would depart on time in order to go up and said ‘Mama yes’ and she would throw the pasta into the water so that Papa was coming up for food that the pasta was perfect. When you grow up with a sense of precision like this you know that it is important to cook pasta well.

Elliot Moss
And yet that precision is intention in contradiction to the spontaneity and the creativity that goes into creation…

Antonio Carluccio
Oh that is something else.

Elliot Moss
…how does that work together though?

Antonio Carluccio
That is something else, the creation it comes with a fantasy working in connection with your taste buds and the memory. What you can do with few ingredients, that’s important to assemble together something that is really fantastic. My mother was fine in that. Now the cooking of the pasta is the only precision that has to be that is cooked al dente. Al dente means not you know, falling apart but having a bit of resistance with the tooth and this one joined the pasta and better and make in order the pasta digestible, better digestible. So all the things that are important. The fantasy how you produce it together that’s another one.

Elliot Moss
And we are going to come to that fantasy. Stay with me for my very special Business Shaper here today, Antonio Carluccio. Time for some more music in the meantime, this is Billy Taylor with I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free.

Billy Taylor with I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free and I was just saying to Antonio, it kind of gives me goose bumps when I hear that. I get goose bumps and I am taken to another place when I eat something very special. Do you remember the first thing you created? How old were you?

Antonio Carluccio
Yes.

Elliot Moss
What was it?

Antonio Carluccio
Yes it was I remember, it was in a very sad occasion actually because in life it is not only lovely occasion but a sad one as well. My little brother died and I remember what could I do to make my family thinking on something else so I went to the market and bought about a kilo or something of anchovies and the salt and I went home and it took me about three or four hours to take the salt out and fillet all these anchovies. You know those that you find in oil, the fillet. And it took also quite a lot of parsley and garlic and chilli and I chopped it very finely.

Elliot Moss
How old were you at this time?

Antonio Carluccio
About, I was about nineteen. And in fact I relieved a little bit the heavy weight that was in the family to what happened obviously and so all the morning I worked on that and then I presented to my brother and sister and they ate a little bit and they were revived a little bit. So you take one anchovy fillet, you put on a little crostino with a bit of the green sauce that I prepared with chopped parsley, garlic and it is a lovely thing to do for other people. You know when you are able to produce something for somebody else and enjoyed it is a wonderful thing to do. I like to actually.

Elliot Moss
When did you know you were good at this Antonio, when did it strike you that you could actually make a living?

Antonio Carluccio
I didn’t know, no, no, no, no I didn’t know that because it was natural seeing what my mother used to do and that food she used to produce was fantastic. In fact she was producing even a little bit more than necessary because we, young people coming back in the evenings or midnight or 1.00 o’clock from sort of battles, we were meeting each other in front of the fridge and all the cold stuff that was left overs it was polished. So she knew that we will like to have something like that in the middle of the night, a midnight feast and it was fantastic. Now you grow up with all of this and then there is a good taste, when I was then alone in Vietnam alone, I wasn’t alone but I was standing there, I was by myself and I wanted the food that my mother used to create and I became a cook. I started to cook pasta and things like that and share with other people and I can tell you if you are a student again somehow in life, don’t say to the girls come and see my etchings but say come and eat my pasta.

Elliot Moss
You see that’s the secret to love and life. Lots more coming up from Antonio Carluccio and you are going to be hearing about how the humble cook became a bit more than that pretty rapidly actually. Latest travel in a couple of minutes but before that it is another part of our Future Shapers series, it is someone who is going to be shaping the world of business in the very near future.

You are listening to Jazz Shapers with me Elliot Moss; every Saturday 9.00am I get the chance to talk to someone shaping the world of business. I have a very special person here today I think and I am sure you do to, it’s Antonio Carluccio; the man that you see in fact, the name you see on many, many streets. You came to the UK, you settled in London, you created this incredible restaurant in Neal Street in Covent Garden in London.

Antonio Carluccio
Yes.

Elliot Moss
And then what because this was a very special restaurant.

Antonio Carluccio
Now, yes.

Elliot Moss
How did it then explode into what we now know as Carluccio?

Antonio Carluccio
Yeah that’s very funny because I was a wine merchant for quite some times and I never wanted, I knew about three thousand restaurants as a customer, in Europe, in Germany and here and I never wanted to have a restaurant because I know that having a restaurant it’s heavy. You know, it’s, it’s… your liberty is gone completely and when Terence saw that I could cook, Terence Conran was my ex-brother-in-law and he saw that I could cook and that I would be interested in cooking and food. He offered to me to run the Neal Street restaurant which I said okay, I can accept it only if I am not responsible for the running and just for the food and PR and all of that you know. And he accepted and they accepted and I did it and that was fun because I could create the food that I wanted, I could be myself and not been with burden and the fact then of Carluccio came about, the fact that I wanted to have a produce from Italy, the best produce and with the help of Pricilla, my ex-wife, so we then started to import and create the brand, Carluccio’s brand with the best produce that Italy and we had the possibility to take a shop next door to the restaurant and that was the first Carluccio. But it wasn’t a restaurant, it was just a shop. The deli.

Elliot Moss
And then what, who did you meet? How did the next stage come together?

Antonio Carluccio
Then, so we created that brand for one year using my knowledge and my sort of name already which I added for mushroom for restaurant and so and so and so on and then we decided to name the next step. We didn’t have enough money so and we called somebody and it was Simon Kossoff and Simon Kossoff presented us with very good accountant and that’s what I wanted, I wanted to have people that I know what they are doing.

Elliot Moss
Did you have, I mean obviously at this point you have this vision for ‘I just want the great produce’…

Antonio Carluccio
Yes.

Elliot Moss
…‘I need to feel the produce here’.

Antonio Carluccio
Oh yeah, oh yeah.

Elliot Moss
But looking at Simon Kossoff who went on to help co-found this business and be the business person kind of making sure that the trains ran on time.

Antonio Carluccio
Yes.

Elliot Moss
Did you ever feel that the passion and the love of food was becoming a secondary thing to the running of the business or is that what you managed…

Antonio Carluccio
Oh no, no, no, no, no, no…

Elliot Moss
…to maintain?

Antonio Carluccio
For me, business was a secondary thing. Most important was the production of food to see what people they would like and prepare that for that and get the best food from Italy. Always just concentrated on that because I thought if you are employing people that are very good at their job then they do their job, so accountancy and running and so on and so on. And so was the case. So Simon and Frank they then, the accountant, they chose another way, people with money. The bank wasn’t very, very keen on that but they were at the x-men that owned the Seattle Coffee Company they sold it to Starbucks, invested in us and other friends they invested and so was Carluccio’s created.

Elliot Moss
And we are here in 2016 with a lot more and we are going to come back to hear a lot more from Antonio in a couple of minutes. Time for some more music in the meantime though if I can get my words out, Ella Fitzgerald, you will have heard of her and another Shaper and it is Georgia On My Mind.

Ella Fitzgerald with a thoughtful number there, Georgia On My Mind. Antonio has been my Business Shaper and my guest and it is like having a master and wanting to make sure you ask the right questions and it is very hard because time is limited. You brought a stick with you. I mention the stick because you made this stick?

Antonio Carluccio
Well I need to enable, I was very young to go picking mushrooms. The major thing, you see my signature, there is a little porcino here, a little cep, mushroom.

Elliot Moss
There is a mushroom if I can explain, just visualise it for you, it is a beautiful piece.

Antonio Carluccio
It is a thumb stick it is called.

Elliot Moss
It is a thumb stick and how high…

Antonio Carluccio
A big vocation.

Elliot Moss
…this is quite a… it’s a big…

Antonio Carluccio
Well yes it is about one and a half metre and it is round to lean on it and use it for walking.

Elliot Moss
And all this in here, this detail?

Antonio Carluccio
This came about because at the beginning I was just putting my initial when I was a child to show this is my stick. Then later on I discovered with a little knife by whittling, that’s what it is called in England and you could produce this design and they have a collection of three or four hundred and I even a member all the Stick Maker Guild of Great Britain. Can you imagine – Stick Maker Guild of Great Britain.

Elliot Moss
Fantastic. I didn’t even know something like that existed.

Antonio Carluccio
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
But you are an artisan that’s really the point of this isn’t it?

Antonio Carluccio
I like to change shapes of things with my hands. To touch things with my hands. My hands are very pleasurable tool for me. You know I can tough and shape and enjoy.

Elliot Moss
Now you are seventy nine years young.

Antonio Carluccio
I am.

Elliot Moss
Very young. Do you feel and again I am looking at those eyes and they are pretty deep eyes.

Antonio Carluccio
You are not bad…

Elliot Moss
But I am no Antonio Carluccio. You still have got a big force in there?

Antonio Carluccio
I think…

Elliot Moss
What is going on?

Antonio Carluccio
I think that, I think that the best piece of my person is the head. Thank God. I feel very young, the body it’s okay according to the age.

Elliot Moss
The hair is pretty good today.

Antonio Carluccio
But the head is just wonderful because I am about now to finish a book that I started twenty years ago called Senor Porcino and Madame Chanterelle which is a story; you know that I know about mushrooms?

Elliot Moss
I heard you knew a bit yeah.

Antonio Carluccio
And I want to write this story about those two guys which are the patron and matron of the year meeting all the mushrooms in the world. Wait for it, it is wonderful.

Elliot Moss
This creativity is it your thing? Is that the energy…

Antonio Carluccio
Yes.

Elliot Moss
…in you. Whatever it is, whether it is a stick, whether it is the book, whether it is the food…

Antonio Carluccio
Yeah. Food, whatever.

Elliot Moss
And love still?

Antonio Carluccio
Yeah. Oh obvious.

Elliot Moss
Of course how dare I ask an Italian if love is important. My final chat is coming up with Antonio very shortly and plus we will be playing a track from Donald Byrd, that’s after the latest traffic and travel.

Donald Byrd with Place And Spaces. Antonio Carluccio is just with me for a few more precious minutes. You mentioned before when your little brother very sadly passed away, you said you made that dish and it was a dish made with love and for love.

Antonio Carluccio
Anchovy salsa verde.

Elliot Moss
I am not even going to try and pronounce it but that’s what you said. The anchovies with a beautiful green sauce.

Antonio Carluccio
Yes.

Elliot Moss
You know one of my dreams and we are going to realise that at some point shortly is that I am going to walk in to Carluccio’s with you.

Antonio Carluccio
Yes.

Elliot Moss
And I am going to show you off like a, like an amazed human being. Sounds silly.

Antonio Carluccio
I would say to lay a sort of red carpet.

Elliot Moss
But does that give you pleasure? You walk in there and you’ve created as you’ve said, an atmosphere of specialness.

Antonio Carluccio
I can tell you at the beginning were even so an impediment for me, Carluccio’s everywhere because I said, ‘You dilute yourself too much’, you know. At the end then you know when they give me the commendatory. It is the equivalent of the knighthood in Italy and I went to receive it at the Embassy and I said, ‘My goodness, commendatory’, usually we make joke in Italy when in a café when you are called commendatory, ten people turn around because everybody seems to be a commendatory. But anyway commendatory gives to me the pleasure to be recognised by Italy for what I do but even better than that it was the OBE because I never would have expect that Britain would recognise my effort to do Italian food in Britain and they did. All of a sudden they say oh the British Empire. What they have to do with British Empire myself and that was really funny because I felt that was good, that was the recognition that was good but it never went to my head, all of it. It was a pleasurable thing and now what I see written Carluccio’s it doesn’t have the same meaning as before obviously but I remember that perhaps the first time that they saw my name Carluccio printed it was when I was correspondent of La Stamp of Turin and it was under a little article saying something about the area Chronicle where Antonio Carluccio that makes big effect on you, you know I tell you, Antonio Carluccio published like this, just like somebody that tried to commit a crime just to be in the paper.

Elliot Moss
Well listen the thing is you didn’t commit a crime, you have done some extraordinary things over your life and I am sure with the book that you are writing it is just another wonderful thing that will happen and I look forward to it. Is it going to be in English or Italian?

Antonio Carluccio
In English obviously and then will be translated in many languages.

Elliot Moss
I am sure it will be. Antonio it has been a real pleasure, thank you for spending some time with me short as it was. Before I let you go.

Antonio Carluccio
Yes.

Elliot Moss
What is your song choice and why have you chosen it?

Antonio Carluccio
Lucio Dalla, it is a pity that he died because he was really for me, probably the, the variation of Italian jazz if you like it because he was inventive, it was creative, it was diverse and the Piazza Grande is sort of similar to a soul song. It is the Grande Piazza in Bologna, it is the Piazza where he lived and he sings this song in a wonderful way but then he tackled many other things in life always taking another form of song, not the usual Italian you know, honey and schmaltz. Very, very good singer, very creative, very nice. I think it is the Italian counterpart of Vigel probably.

Elliot Moss
Well here it is. Thank you so much for recommending it. Piazza Grande from Lucio Dalla.

That was Piazza Grande from Lucio Dalla, the song choice of my fantastic Business Shaper today, the one and only Antonio Carluccio. A humble man throughout all of the success, he still retains that sense of being just who he was when he was a small child. Passionate about food, passionate about love that you bring into creating food and has never lost that, continues to drive it. And super creative, someone who just sees that everything in life is there to be made and to be created into something special whether its food, whether it’s his walking stick or anything else, the book he is writing, it just doesn’t matter. Absolutely inspiring stuff. Do join me again, same time, same place – that’s next Saturday 9.00am sharp here on Jazz FM for another edition of Jazz Shapers but right now stay with us because coming up next it’s Nigel Williams.

Commendatore Antonio Carluccio is an OBE, OMRI and a much loved and respected Italian cookery writer, cook, restaurateur and food expert. He was raised in the rural North West of Italy; this gave Antonio a rare and privileged breadth of culinary knowledge. It was here, in Piedmont, at the age of seven that Antonio started his life-long past-time of hunting and collecting mushrooms and fungi with his father.

His love for Britain is evident and he has lived here for the last 37 years. In 1981 Antonio opened the Neal Street Restaurant in Covent Garden, London, which traded for 26 years. That year he also was runner up in the Sunday Times Cook of the Year.

In 1991 Antonio opened a delicatessen next to the Neal Street Restaurant and in 1998 started the first Carluccio’s Caffè in Market Place, London. In 2012 Antonio was awarded the AA Hospitality Lifetime Achievement award. Winners of this award are congratulated for making significant contributions to their industry, which have had a notable impact, and must have demonstrated a lifetime commitment to progress in their field.

Antonio has written 22 books on subjects ranging from mushrooms, pasta, Italian cooking and Opera, as well as his autobiography, published in 2012. His most recent book, Pasta, was published in March 2014 and shares Antonio’s love of Italy’s favourite food. His 23rd recipe book ‘Vegetables’ will be published this October.

From 1983 onwards Antonio has made regular appearances on television.

Along with his books and TV appearances, Antonio is a consultant to Carluccio’s restaurants chain and Brand Ambassador to Cirio tomatoes. He also travels extensively, visiting Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, and the U.S. last year.

Antonio was appointed Commendatore by the Italian Government in 1998 for services rendered to Italy, the equivalent of a British knighthood. He also received an OBE from the Queen in 2007 for services to the catering industry.

His website: www.antonio-carluccio.com will be re-launched in Autumn 2016.

Listen live at 9am Saturday.

Follow Antonio on Twitter @CookCarluccio

“I am not a chef. I am a cook.”

“Generally the Italian believe that food is the second best thing in life…”

“I was then alone in Vietnam… I was standing there, I was by myself and I wanted the food that my mother used to create and I became a cook.”

“When you eat it has to be pleasure otherwise it doesn’t have any sense.”

“If you are a student again somehow in life, don’t say to the girls ‘come and see my etchings’ but say ‘come and eat my pasta’.”

“I never wanted to have a restaurant because I know that having a restaurant… it’s heavy.”

“I like to change shapes of things with my hands. To touch things with my hands. My hands are very pleasurable tool for me.” 

“I never would have expect that Britain would recognise my effort to do Italian food in Britain and they did.”

“I remember the first time I saw my name Carluccio printed…Antonio Carluccio published like this, just like somebody that tried to commit a crime just to be in the paper.”