Wow, I “luv-a-duck”!

- John Nielsen, For John Nielsen, luxury hospitality and tourism has been part of his life since he recalls. Having been fortunate to travel extensively during his childhood in Denmark, it was almost a natural choice for John to join the Scandinavian travel company, Spies Travels in 1983. This journey and a beginning of his career, took John to Madeira & Portugal, where he gained his love of luxury hotels. From there three years were spent studying in Switzerland, then to South Korea at Hotel Lotte, to Hong Kong with hotels including the Mandarin Oriental and Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, Hyatt Carlton Tower in London, Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur, Crown Towers in Melbourne and Grand Hyatt Melbourne. Throughout the years in senior management John developed a passion for wine and in 1998 co-founded Liquid Assets Wine Storage in Melbourne. In 2006 John joined Kiwi Collection as a Regional Director in Asia Pacific and today continues to consult as well as contribute to WOW Travel. John recently completed his Master of Business with an added Master Degree in Tourism. These days John is based in Melbourne with his family, working for the Australian PGA Links company as General Manager of Hospitality. The travel bug will forever stay and with family based across three continents, there is always a good excuse to seek out new destinations and new wines.

I sat back in my chair at The Prince Luxury Hotel and with a glass of Lanson Rose Champagne I exclaimed “WOW” that was the best duck I had eaten to date. Wonderfully prepared and superbly served the Breste duck was now on my all time list of favourite main courses. How would I ever find another duck course like that again?

My wife has always known of my passion for roasted duck and recently signed me up to attend a cooking course at “Luv-a-duck” in Melbourne, Australia. As we sat down after cooking a five-course lunch my thoughts and tastebuds turned back to that great meal in Reims, the capital of Champagne. The flavours and texture were sensational….it of course does help when you have had to slave over a hot stove, but the duck quality was great!

Founded 1958, when 20 year old Art Shoppee moved to Nhill in the heart of Victoria, Art had little idea that the business would grow to become one of Australia’s leading food exporters. Today Luv-a-duck has a world-class facility on a 200-hectare farm, surrounded by thousands of hectares of golden grain fields in Central Victoria, where Luv-a-Duck ducks convert into magnificent meals. It is very much a family affair with daughter Theresa Sfetkidis also involved in the business.

Luv-A-Duck ducks are grown in the Victorian Wimmera Wheatland’s and are fed on premium grains. The ducks are raised in airy and spacious enclosures protected from the elements and from predators. “They have plenty of room to socialise, and constant and free access to clean water and fresh feed,” says Theresa.   It is that quality that has led to export orders through out Asia and the Middle East, and is even served in First Class on Emirates.

The retail showroom and cooking classes are performed in South Melbourne, a 5 min taxi trip from down town Melbourne. The city of Melbourne is often called “Australia’s dining capital”. The blend multiculturalism has ensured a superb range of restaurants that use local produce with traditional recopies.

Visitors are often heard singing their praises for the towns many good eateries. The most prestigious Australian wine trophy “the Jimmy Watson” is named after a wonderful wine bar in the Italian part of Melbourne. Even Jamie Oliver’s “Fifteen” has arrived and recently famed celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa opened at Crown Entertainment Complex.

The perfect combination for a long weekend in Melbourne would be to check-in at Crown Towers, cook up a storm at Luv-a-duck with a local drop of Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley. Then explore the towns Greek or Italian restaurants for dinner. A match made in heaven, but make sure you work up an appetite in the hotels pool or gym, both really excellent, just so you feel good about the task!

Follow me on my trail through the many wine regions around Australia and New Zealand, as I explore and taste my way around…….really hard work!

Bonne appétit!

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