Our Story

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Discover the story


The Kurrajong Kitchen story begins

The Kurrajong Kitchen story began in 1993 with our love for food and generosity in hospitality. We were running a restaurant in the beautiful town of Kurrajong, Hawkesbury, NSW Australia and we had started baking our own Lavosh flatbread in-house to serve on cheese platters. Our customers loved it so much that they would take it home and impress their friends.

Our original family recipe for the Armenian flatbread quickly gained popularity, and we were thrilled to see that the basket at our door, which we filled with Lavosh, was emptied every week.

It wasn’t long before we realized that we had something special on our hands, and we began to bake larger quantities of Lavosh to sell to local cafes, restaurants and delis.

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Opportunity knocks

In 1997, we decided to take a stand at Fine Food Australia, a major food industry trade show. It was a massive investment for our small business, costing us $3500. Our objective was to determine if we had a real opportunity to grow our business.

While we were at the trade show, a supermarket manager from a concept store approached us and said, “I love your product, but your packaging won’t work.” This was a wake-up call for us. We had put so much effort into perfecting our recipe and production process, but we had overlooked the importance of packaging.

We quickly realized that we needed to up our game in terms of branding and packaging if we wanted to take our business to the next level. It was a big investment for us, but we knew it was necessary if we wanted to compete in the highly competitive food industry. Looking back, that trade show was a turning point for us. It made us realize that we had the potential to grow our business beyond our wildest dreams, and it gave us the motivation to invest in our branding and packaging.

The conversation led to a supermarket ranged product and our hard work off the back of this decision is why the brand exists today in Australian pantries – some 30 years on!

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Store by Store Growth

Growing a business, a brand, and a family all at the same time is incredibly hard work. Suddenly, we found ourselves in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry, a world we knew nothing about. We had to learn quickly if we wanted to succeed.

We started by securing direct-to-store listings, which gave us the opportunity to make our mark. We loaded up our old Ford Econovan with cartons of Lavosh and drove store by store, building relationships with each store manager and staff.

Back then, there were six touch points per store: the store manager, grocery manager, biscuit aisle manager, service desk, ticket office, and dock team. We would enter each Coles store, introduce ourselves to the store manager, and shake hands. We worked hard to build relationships at all levels within the store.

After securing an agreement for the store to take our product, we would sign out of the store and head to the dock to sign in two cartons of Lavosh. We would then come back and sign in at the service desk before retrieving our stock from the dock and facing it up on the allocated shelf space.

Next, we would visit the ticket office, print a ticket, hang it up, shake hands, and sign out. Then it was on to the next store, where we would rinse and repeat the entire process.

Looking back, those early days were tough, but they taught us the importance of hard work, persistence, and building strong relationships. We may have been inexperienced in the FMCG industry, but we were determined to make our mark and build a successful business.

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The Next Door Surprisingly Opens

In 2001, an exciting opportunity presented itself when Woolworths approached us. They wanted to create a new category called “Premium entertaining” within the biscuit aisle, and they wanted Kurrajong Kitchen Lavosh to be the first product to go into this new area. As a family-owned and Australian-made product, we were thrilled to be competing with multinational brands.

However, to keep up with the market, we attempted to outsource our manufacturing. Unfortunately, it was not successful. So, we decided to invest in our own newly established premises in 2001, and it remains our home of baking today.

It was a challenging time, trying to balance family life and business growth. But with hard work and determination, we were able to continue building our brand and expanding our reach. Today, Kurrajong Kitchen Lavosh is a household name in Australia, and we are proud to have come so far since our humble beginnings in the early 90s.

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David Fights Goliath

In 2004, our business faced a major challenge when a large company decided to compete with us. They had a bigger budget and priced their product higher than ours. We thought we were done for. But we were determined to fight back. We knew we had a loyal customer base, and we reached out to them for help.

We put a note in every packet of Lavosh, explaining the situation and asking our customers to support us to stay on the shelf. To our surprise, we received a flood of snail mail letters from consumers, blessing us with their support. They told us how much they loved our product and that they didn’t want us to disappear from the shelves.

Their support gave us the strength to keep going. We continued to sell our Lavosh, and to our delight, we outsold the competitor who didn’t remain on the shelf. This experience taught us that a loyal customer base can be an incredibly powerful force in the face of competition. We were grateful for their support and have remained dedicated to providing them with high-quality, delicious Lavosh ever since.

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The story continues…..

Now, we are baking over 1 million pieces of Lavosh per day with a team of 45, proudly supporting Australian wheat farmers. We have invested in technology and partnered with Nova Employment as an inclusion partner, mentoring businesses across the years who are looking for a similar journey. We are highly recognised and awarded both as a company and as founders, and our Kurrajong Kitchen Lavosh is loved by chefs and home entertainers across the nation.

We are driven by our values, and our product is loved with consistency being key. Innovation and continuous improvement drive us to a world-class facility. Partnerships are key to our business, and we value them in our community. We give our consumers a great experience, and they are central to everything we do. We own our responsibility and help others own theirs. We support each other to be better people through investment in learning.

We are family – The Kurrajong Kitchen Family.

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Our Proud Indigenous Heritage and Story

Karen is a proud Burra Burra woman of the Gundungurra speaking nation. As a direct descendant of Indigenous chief Murrandah of the Burragorang Valley, Karen shares her Indigenous heritage. Karen takes inspiration from Murrundah in leading the Kurrajong Kitchen mob.

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Hawkesbury Small Business awards

  • 1995 Restaurant of the Year – Clifford’s Restaurant Kurrajong
  • 2012 Outstanding Commercial Business – Kurrajong Kitchen
  • 2016 Outstanding Specialised Business – Kurrajong Kitchen
  • 2016 Business of the Year – Kurrajong Kitchen
  • 2017 Business Person of the Year – Karen Lebsanft
  • 2022 Most Inclusive Employer
  • 2022 Business Person of the Year – Karen Lebsanft

Hawkesbury Business Awards

  • 2022 Winner Manufacture and Wholesale Kurrajong Kitchen

Australian Small Business Champion Awards

  • 2018 Winner Manufacturing Kurrajong Kitchen
  • 2022 Winner Most inclusive Employer Kurrajong Kitchen Group

Western Sydney Awards for Business Excellence (WSABE)

  • 2018 Winner Patron’s Choice Kurrajong Kitchen

Stevie Awards – “The Stevies” Global Recognition

  • 2019 Gold Stevie Award Lifetime Achievement Women in Business Karen Lebsanft
  • 2020 Silver Stevie Award Woman of the Year Manufacturing Karen Lebsanft
  • 2022 Gold Stevie Award Company of the Year Manufacturing – Small  Kurrajong Kitchen
  • 2022 People’s choice for favourite companies Kurrajong Kitchen

Personal Achievements Karen Lebsanft

  • Feel the Magic Charity for Grieving Children – Mentor, support team and individual fund raiser
  • Rotary Foundation of Rotary International Recognised as Paul Harris Fellow
  • 50 Unsung Business Heroes Series Two Publication Acknowledgment of inclusion Karen Lebsanft & Kurrajong Kitchen as an outstanding contributor to the Australian economy
  • 2022 Australian Small Business Champion Awards – Women in Business Judge
  • 2023 Lions Youth of the Year District 201N5 Final – Program Judge

Karen's Entertaining Tips

Bring back the excitement at every gathering.

Entertaining Tips