VIP chef found dead in camper van aged 49

Mario Santilli

MILAN- VIP chef Mario Santilli was found dead in his camper van aged 49, local police have confirmed. He is believed to have died from a heart attack on Saturday.

 Santilli was a critically acclaimed multi-starred chef who mixed in celebrity circles during his time as owner of “La Dolce Vita”, an Italian restaurant located in Pune, a town outside Mumbai in India.

 He was once named the third best chef in India, although his success was cut short by threats after Santilli spoke out against the Indian police force and the mafia, resulting in him having to flee the country in 2008 and leave his restaurant behind. He relocated to Abruzzo, where he worked on market stalls for a time before his life was devastated yet again, this time by the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake.

 The former VIP chef transferred to Milan where he lived in an old 1970s caravan. His life resembled nothing of its former glory days; Santilli was working in markets and soup kitchens to make a living.

 As well as having serious financial difficulties in recent years, Santilli is believed to have been suffering from a heroin addiction.

 His body was found by his friend Daniela told local press that she found Santilli curled up in his bed with a pile of clothes next to him. “He would always say that he only wanted one thing from this life that treated him badly and every now and then he treated badly,” Daniela stated, “he used to say: I just want to feel human.”

 His camper van is reported to have been a temperature of 60 degrees following some of Italy's hottest days of the summer. 

 Mario was married twice and had three children.  

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The VIP chef's camper van where he died