established since 1993
established since 1993
Lorna & Jack proudly represent the second generation of Kurrajong Kitchen.
Their mum & dad Karen & Ben Lebsanft started Kurrajong Kitchen way back before they were even thought about. Since 1993.
Back then Ben was chef and baked Lavosh to serve on the cheese platters in their little 60 seat restaurant... In Kurrajong of course... hence the name Kurrajong Kitchen.
Always willing to look after customers when they asked to take some home, Karen would carefully wrap their supply of baked Lavosh so they too could go and delight their friends at home.
From baking in their restaurant and sealing bags on the ironing board after service each night, it quickly turned to sub leasing downtime of a local bakehouse.
From 30 packets per week it grew.
... to the days when Lorna and Jack were little and used to run into the bakery and eat the raw dough out of the mixing bowl.
We continue baking still with that same love and care like it was baked in the small kitchen of Karen & Ben’s restaurant. Our warehouse grows and out first large equipment is delivered.
Today we bake over 750,000 pieces per day. Back in 1993, the journey began... of a couple that had a dream, and drove the passion for that dream with their children by their side, eating dough & packing Lavosh.
And it continues... Karen & Ben Lebsanft taught the Australian consumer how to entertain way beyond the famous biscuits! They brought the Australian consumer Lavosh... Kurrajong Kitchen Lavosh.
Today Kurrajong Kitchen directly supports over 50 families through employment and reaches the high end entertaining experience through to the mornings when mums decanter the packet into the school lunch box for the day.
Kurrajong Kitchen led by Karen & Ben is taking on the next generation and proudly remaining an Australian owned company. We are very proud of what we have achieved and together we look forward to sharing this journey with you.
Credit: Sarah Falson - Hawkesbury Gazette 9 Sep 2016
LAVOSH is an Armenian unleavened flat bread, and the history goes that every village had their own recipe.
In the early nineties, Karen and Ben Lebsanft perfected their particular technique in the kitchen of Clifford’s restaurant in Kurrajong Village, and began serving it on cheese platters with dips and salsa.
Customers loved it, and the Bowen Mountain couple began selling it to regulars, who would take it home and impress their friends.
Fast-forward 25 years, and the Lebsanfts are now one of the Hawkesbury’s true business success stories.
Their company, Kurrajong Kitchen, has just won Hawkesbury's Business of the Year for 2016 at the annual Local Business Awards.
“We are so overwhelmed by it and it really was fantastic recognition. What we do and how we involve ourselves in the community plays a part,” Karen Lebsanft told the Gazette.
Today, Kurrajong Kitchen runs a semi-automated batch production plant in South Windsor, where they make around two million packets per year of their main product, Lavosh The Original Bite Size 130g.
That’s not including the other products in their range, which include a ‘thin’ variety and a larger version for chefs.
The company employs 55 locals across manufacturing, distribution and sales, and they use as much Australian product as they can.
“This includes packaging - it’s printed at Hannapak in North Richmond. We source from the Hawkesbury where possible,” said Mrs Lebsanft.
“We are well-supported by local delis and fruit markets, and are stocked in Coles and Woolies nationally.”
But they started small, and at the beginning it was a hobby. Then, in 1997, they took a leap of faith and forked-out $3,500 for a stand at Fine Food Australia, a trade exhibition.
“The only reason we’re a business today is because we took that stand!” said Mrs Lebsanft.
“The one enquiry that mattered was from the store manager of a Coles concept store in Broadway. He said he loved our product but the packaging doesn’t work, and he worked with us to develop packaging that would work.
“Once we got a listing in the supermarket, we worked our backsides off to build this business up.”
They began sub-leasing the kitchen at the North Richmond Bakehouse, from three hours a-week at the beginning to five days a week. Then, the Bakehouse went up for sale, and the Lebsanfts bought it to ensure Kurrajong Kitchen still had a home. They moved to their current premises in 2003.
“It grew so fast,” said Mrs Lebsanft. So fast, that they almost entered the export market, however after outsourcing to a Western Australian manufacturer they realised no-one put the same love and care into their product as they did.
There were problems with quality and inconsistency - particularly breakage during transit - so they scrapped their plan and re-focussed on their loyal, local supply chain.
“What’s important is as we stepped up we still had to ensure we had the same love and care - every time you step up production something changes, so we had to try not to change things for the end user,” said Mrs Lebsanft.
“The culture we’ve built up over the years hasn’t changed - the family values. When someone is serving our product, we’re there with them.”
The Lebsanfts are currently training-up the next generation of Lavosh-makers - their children, Lorna and Jack.
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