The Antonio Carluccio Library and Archive to open at Oxford Brookes University

Thursday, 09 September 2021

Antonio Carluccio

The legacy and achievements of Commendatore Antonio Carluccio, OBE, the respected and innovative Italian cookery writer, cook, restaurateur and food expert will be celebrated with a new library and archive housed at Oxford Brookes University.

The Antonio Carluccio Library and Archive opens to the public from 13 September 2021, as part of Oxford Brookes University’s Special Collections and Archives. 

Containing Antonio Carluccio’s extensive personal collection of books, his professional archive and  one-off pieces of art and memorabilia, The Antonio Carluccio Library and Archive is a unique  record of the life and work of a celebrated man who was instrumental in bringing Italian food and food culture to the UK, and whose legacy continues in The Antonio Carluccio Foundation

A unique view into the life of a food pioneer

Antonio Carluccio’s breadth of knowledge and passions are demonstrated in his personal library, of which almost 800 books are in the Special Collection spanning 16th to early 21st century food writing. This includes large collections of books on Italian cuisine, mushrooms and  foraging and food history as well as general cookbooks from across the world. The 32 books written or co-written by Antonio Carluccio translated into many languages also form part of the library. 

The archive gives a unique view into the working life of a food pioneer and contains manuscripts with Antonio’s hand-written notes, proofs and first editions, and press cuttings and films of his television appearances. Also held in the archive are Antonio’s OBE, Commendatore (an Italian Knighthood) and OMRI (Order of Merit of the Italian Republic); and correspondence including a letter from Mikhail Gorbachev to thank Antonio for a mushroom book, in which he likens foraging to  'the quiet hunt' (this became the subtitle for Antonio's second mushroom book).  

Alongside handwritten menus with artwork by David Hockney are other unique artworks including a sculpture of Eduardo Paolozzi’s head created by Antonio, a selection of the walking sticks which Antonio had whittled, and watercolour sketches of mushroom characters drawn by Antonio for a ballet and children’s book.

Carluccio’s legacy continues 

The Antonio Carluccio Library and Archive will give food lovers, researchers, students and teachers an insight into Antonio Carluccio’s philosophy that food can bring people together across social and  geographical boundaries. This legacy continues through the work of The Antonio Carluccio  Foundation, which he established before his death in 2017. The Foundation supports those working in  hospitality with a mission of ‘Training To Feed - Feeding for Life’ and it has now provided food to over one million people across the world with grants made in the UK, India, South Africa, Italy and Malawi. 

Dr Helen Workman, Director of Learning Resources at Oxford Brookes University said: “It is a privilege for Oxford Brookes to be entrusted with this very special material. Many of us remember watching  Antonio Carluccio on television, cooking from his books and perhaps even visiting his restaurants. He was a giant of the Italian food scene, and I’m so delighted that we are able to preserve his fascinating library and archive and make it available for people to visit, study and enjoy.” 

Chef Gennaro Contaldo comments: “This is a wonderful collection of Antonio’s life and his passions and the legacy he has left to chefs, cookery writers and to all. When I view this precious collection, it  transports me back to the times we spent together whether it was searching for beautiful antique  books, cutting down sticks for whittling or wonderful days foraging for his beloved fungi. Antonio, I  miss you dearly each day, but coming here brings me close to you and the things you loved.”  

The Antonio Carluccio Library and Archive will sit alongside The Jane Grigson Library, the Ken Hom  Library and the Booker Prize Archive in the John Henry Brookes Building on Oxford Brookes  University’s Headington Campus in Oxford. 

Special Collections at the University re-open to the public from 13 September (by appointment) and from 20 September each afternoon (no appointment required). Find the latest information on the Special Collections website.