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Food, Inside Story

Urban Kitchen Duck Masterclass with Ian Curley


Melbourne’s biggest and most interactive cooking school recently opened, offering hands-on classes by top chefs and food industry experts. The World Loves Melbourne was invited to an exciting Duck Masterclass with Ian Curley (The European, City Wine Shop) where we were given a wine and starter as we entered, and handed a fresh apron. Emma Rosen was on hand from Urban Kitchen making sure the night ran smoothly, indeed exceptionally. The slight smattering of duck fat on the blackboard signage was a giveaway that this was a Duck Masterclass!

Ian Curley is a statesman in the culinary world, not without a sharp sense of humour. With his tatooed apprentice chefs on hand, there was a formidable team to assist the eager crowd.

Centrally located in South Melbourne, the Urban Kitchen has 44 commercial-grade cooking stations in a bright, open space stretching over 250sq/m. Stunning city views, private dining rooms and the latest kitchen equipment add to the cooking adventure. Big name chefs to launch the Urban Kitchen include Ian Curley (the European), and recently Jerry Mai (Pho Nom) and Paul Wilson (Lady Carolina).

Ian Curley told us that every part of the duck can be utilised in a kitchen. Ducks are expensive and you can't afford to waste anything in a restaurant kitchen. Even the neck is used in duck salads, for example.

The quality of the equipment at Urban Kitchen is first class - we were assigned a cooking station and placed into pairs.

Ian Curley showed us how to break down a huge duck like a boss. For The World Loves Melbourne this was a thrill - remove the skin from the neck, cut along the bone to free the breasts, then the legs, remove the wishbone, and we also filled a section of skin with a duck mixture to make a sausage. Georgie volunteered to hold up the wishbone we removed like a clinical surgeon...

Expect more celebrity chefs surprises as the next wave of classes are revealed. Food industry experts will also share their skills, such as butchery basics by TOMS Organics and mozzarella masterclasses with the team from That’s Amore. And there are plans for kids’ cooking classes, wine appreciation courses and social events, along with corporate team-building programs.

Every part of the duck is utilised; we were served Duck liver with house made lavoche, as well as Duck cigars...

The Urban Kitchen is the brainchild of Georgie and Ben Vile, who have spent a decade running Bay Leaf Catering, Melbourne’s leading boutique caterer. Food Creative Emma Rosen is coordinating the many fabulous classes on the timetable, while food media personality Wendy Hargreaves joins the Urban Kitchen as an ambassador.

Georgie and Ben want Urban Kitchen to be a culinary hub – a place for sharing knowledge with hands-on classes by the food industry’s best and brightest. They have big plans; creating a resource for the food industry in the same way Melbourne’s Wheeler Centre supports books, writing and ideas. “Food is about sharing,” says Georgie Vile. “We want the Urban Kitchen to be a home for food ideas, whether you’re an absolute beginner learning basic knife skills or an experienced cook seeking inspiration from Australia’s best chefs. But most importantly, it will be a place for fun and creativity.”

Then it was our turn to make Duck pies and Duck ravioli...

Ian Curley utilised the skills of his fine team of apprentices, and they helped expertly cook up the ravioli, pies, sausage and breast fillets we had prepared (under Ian's watchful eye)... Ian's Duck roast was a sensation, having filled the duck with oranges and truffle salt, and massaged extra salt into the scored skin...

A wonderful dynamic was to adjourn downstairs for a meal together, imbibing the duck from our night of Duck Masterclass with Ian Curley...

Where? Find the Urban Kitchen at 17-21 Buckhurst St, South Melbourne – just 10 minutes from the CBD by car or tram. When? Check out for the full timetable.

The Duck pies were amazing and a wonderful surprise was the top notch cheeses from City Wine Shop (adjoining Spring St Grocer has a superb cheese room).

How? Want to find your ultimate cooking adventure? Go to, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 03 9690 5831. More? Georgie Vile: 0400 112 090.