Celebrity chef and author Antonio Carluccio dies at age 80

Celebrity chef Antonio Carluccio, who helped popularize inexpensive Italian fare as the founder of an eponymous restaurant chain and a prolific cookbook writer, has died. He was 80.

His death was announced on Carluccio's website, by the restaurant business on Twitter and by his agent on Wednesday. The cause was not immediately revealed.

Carluccio, who was born and raised in Italy, had restaurants in Britain, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates bearing his name.

He also appeared in several television shows and wrote 22 cookbooks.

"Antonio built Carluccio's from one restaurant to the fantastic brand it is today," the restaurant company said in a statement. "It isn't just Antonio's name above our doors, but his heart and soul lives and breathes throughout our restaurants."

Carluccio first came to prominence in Britain while running the Neal Street Restaurant in Covent Garden in 1981, earning a number of accolades and hosting famous patrons who included Prince Charles and Elton John.

He also helped launch the career of chef Jamie Oliver by hiring him to work there.

He co-founded what became the Carluccio's chain in 1999 and remained involved after selling his interest in the business.

Carluccio was raised in northwest Italy and worked briefly as a journalist in Turin before becoming involved with the wine and food businesses.

Both the Italian and British governments honored him for his work. He received the Commendatore title from the Italian government in 1998. Queen Elizabeth II made him an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2007.