Matteo Luxardo grew up playing in the courtyards of the Luxardo company. His father told him he could do anything with his life, so he moved to Venice to study Japanese and Chinese in University. After six months, he left school and traveled through England and Spain for three years. His father called to offer him a job in the family business, and he returned home and began working in the factory. Over time he moved up the ranks, eventually becoming Export Manager, and today he serves as Export Director and is the face of Luxardo. Recently, Luxardo sat down with Joshua Harris of The Bon Vivants (and Pig & Punch) to talk about the family business and what he does in his downtime.
JH: What’s your favorite way to use your product and how do you like to drink it?
ML: My brand ambassador in London came up with a cocktail called the Luxardo Fresco. It’s incredible. It’s basically a maraschino and tonic. First, in a tumbler, add a slice of cucumber, ice, tonic and a maraschino on top. If you put the maraschino in first, it will sink to the bottom. The best is a bitter tonic with heavy quinine. You have the flavor of the maraschino, the bitterness of the tonic, a taste of the cucumber and then a rosemary sprig to stir.
JH: What do you love most about your job?
ML: Flying. It’s strange because everybody hates flying. I like to travel. I think about what I have to do over the next days. It’s just me with my thoughts and ideas. Of course, I enjoy meeting and talking with people. I like to find out why they are buying our products, and what we can do better–because you can always do better.
JH: What do you do when you aren’t working?
ML: I love sleeping, but it’s impossible—I have two kids that are six and three. I like reading history books. I love skiing—it’s the only sport I do. I rent a house in Italy in the Dolomites—it’s called La Villa. In the same day you cannot ski the same slopes twice. We live in Padua, and when I’m home I try to spend most of my time with my kids. It’s very important to have a solid family. I’m very lucky because I have a great wife who is also a great mother.
JH: What’s your must-visit travel destination?
ML: I love Thailand. I’ve been there many times. I love the Thai people. When I took my oldest child Matilda there, the people were so kind to her. It seems to be another world. As for nature, French Polynesia. I went there for my honeymoon. The view is just incredible.
JH: What’s your favorite low-key place to eat?
ML: Every November, I do an Asian trip and go to Shanghai. Underneath the hotel where I stay there’s a small place that’s not a restaurant. The owner doesn’t speak English, but she remembers me because I’ve been going for seven years. I just tell her that I’m hungry and ask what she has and she makes food for me. I don’t know what it is, but it tastes incredible.
JH: And your favorite fine-dining spot?
ML: The Avalons inside the Hyatt in Tokyo. I think Japanese cuisine is incredible. The first time I was in Japan, I spent 20 days and I lost five kilos. I was eating all the time, but the food is so healthy. They put so much care into their food. Italian food is some of the best in the world, but when I’m traveling I don’t miss Italian food. I like to try local cuisine. I’ve had grasshoppers, scorpions, snakes—I’ll try anything. I’m not afraid of eating. I can never say I don’t like it if I don’t try it.
JH: Your brands have been huge supporters of Pig & Punch. What does the partnership mean to you?
ML: Pig & Punch helps people, no? Being part of that makes us proud. In the city of Tellaro, where our company is, there are six families under the poverty line. At Luxardo we pay for their food and their children’s clothes for school. We try our best to help them. We may not be able to give them a job, but we try to help them find one. As I said, we are very fortunate. We believe if you are fortunate, you need to help someone in need.
JH: Now I’ve got some rapid-fire questions for you.
JH: Dogs or cats?
JH: Early bird or night owl?
ML: Night owl.
JH: Coffee or tea?
JH: Mountains or beach?
ML: Depends on the season.
JH: Standard or automatic?
ML: Depends on the car.
JH: And finally, football or fùtbol?
ML: Football … I was a running back for two years!