THE owner of a north Hampshire farm has expressed his shock over the death of Italian chef Antonio Carluccio after he paid him a visit just last week.

Tributes flooded in from those in the culinary community after it was announced on Wednesday the 80-year-old celebrity chef had died that morning.

Joining the tributes was Laverstoke Park Farm owner Jody Scheckter.

The former Formula One champion, who now runs the organic farm with his wife Clare, had showed Mr Carluccio around his 2,500 site near Overton on Thursday, 2 November, less than a week before his death.

He said he was "deeply saddened and shocked" by the news, adding: "It was a pleasure welcoming him to our farm last week."

Mr Carluccio, a restaurateur whose chain carries his surname, had visited Laverstoke to test a new ricotta cheese being created there.

The pair got in touch through acquaintances and arranged the meeting after Mr Scheckter visited an Italian restaurant in Venice recommended by Mr Carluccio, which he described as "fabulous - one of the best I have ever been to".

During the visit to Laverstoke, Mr Carluccio watched mozzarella being made before sampling a ricotta cheese followed by a tasting lunch. The photographs of his time at the farm are some of the last taken of the famous chef.

"He was a really lovely guy," said Mr Scheckter, adding: "He loved what we were doing so much which was really nice to get someone like him give us praise. We were very privileged and lucky for him to spend one of his last days with us."

He said he was "absolutely shocked" upon hearing the news of Mr Carluccio's death, adding: "I couldn't believe it. My thoughts are with his family."

The chef, who has appeared on television programmes including BCC 2's Two Greedy Italians and who wrote more than a dozen bestselling books, enjoyed an extensive career which spanned more than 50 years, and has been described as 'the Godfather of Italian cooking'.

A statement from the Carluccio's restaurant chain said: "It isn't just Antonio's name above our doors, but his heart and soul lives and breathes throughout our restaurants."