Published :Jan 17, 2024
Words: Mandy Lamont
And the winner is Birchwood – the best cafe dining in Jindabyne
Best cafe in Jindabyne
It’s official. Birchwood is the best café in Jindbayne! Well in regional NSW. And proud owners Laura and Kane Stamp, have the award to prove it. Winning the café dining and casual dining awards for regional NSW, pictured below. Photo credit RSA.
The early years
Mountain folk through and through Laura and Kane met almost twenty years ago working together at the Thredbo Alpine Hotel.
Spending family holidays in the snow at her grandparents holiday unit in Thredbo. Laura was Introduced to skiing by the renowned Austrian’s Bernti and Yogi, arranged by her socialite grandparents.
Moving to Jindabyne when she was 10, she lived in Thredbo for her teenage years. Ski racing up until the age of 12 when she switched to snowboarding. And gained sponsorship in the first week! Rarely at school, Laura loved snowboarding, constantly eager for comps and photo shoots. She did her first season overseas at 19 in Whistler, where she honed her skills in the park.
Meeting at Thredbo
The fateful encounter with Kane occurred when Laura, then 22, was waitressing at the Thredbo Alpine Hotel, where Kane was working as a chef. The rest as they say is history. Kane had been doing back-to-back winters, working for private Country Clubs in Vail and Beaver Creek. After six seasons and visa challenges, he needed a year round job. That’s when Laura stepped in.
Working at the Thredbo Rip Curl shop, Laura met Pete Evans, a good friend of owners Amanda and Reggae Ellis, and asked if he had a job for her boyfriend? Sending Kane’s resume through, he became sous chef at Hugo’s Manly eventually rising to head chef at Hugo’s Kings Cross.
Living in Sydney
Laura and Kane lived in Sydney for five years, returning regularly. As they would drive into Jindabyne, Kane’s declaration of “we’re home” hinted at his desire to return to the mountains.
After they got married Kane applied for Executive Chef at Thredbo. Wanting someone young with knowledge of the latest food trends, Thredbo were keen to take Kane on. Even though he didn’t have the experience, they were willing to teach him whatever he needed.
When Birchwood came up for sale, Laura and Kane dreamt of buying their favorite café. But without the finances to buy a business, the idea was dismissed.
Birchwood was on the market for two years when Laura visited with her dad. Noticing the business was for sale he encouraged Laura to look at the books. A week later, they jumped in. Buying the business and settling on Jan 25, 2021.
After eight years working at Thredbo, highly motivated and skilled with a strong desire to work for himself and pursue his career, Kane was in his element.
A steep learning curve at Birchwood
Learning from every season’s unique challenges, they have weathered the storms of lockdowns through to the covid boom and staffing difficulties. Things are slowly getting back to how they were pre-COVID, with the addition of inflated house prices. Three years on, Kane and Laura are still learning and growing and that’s where they want to be.
Their efforts speak volumes, with Birchwood winning the regional café dining and casual dining awards this year . Always innovating Laura and Kane are always looking for new ideas and purchased the coffee van Baby Birchy in 2023 taking on catering events. From weddings and functions through to Christmas and catering and parties.
Popular with the locals is Fish Friday’s, featuring fresh fish from the markets over. Every Friday evening over summer 5-8pm.
With a focus on local and fresh produce, the Birchwood cool room is bursting with fresh food. Their commitment to the local economy shines through, supporting 17 local businesses. An increase of 16 from when they first took over. With the Snowy Mountains being a low producing region, they classify Canberra and South Coast as local. And use local producers Snowy Mill bakery and Pasture raised Bega Valley Eggs among others.
Most weeks Kane gets two days off a week, and last winter they were able to spend the time as a family up at Thredbo with daughter Estell in the Thredboland ski program.
Despite the challenges, Laura and Kane’s love for what they do is evident. Fueled by the satisfaction of positive reviews and business awards. “It’s hard work, but we love what we do. When we get it right and we get rewarded for it with five star reviews and business awards that we’re really proud of. It makes it all worthwhile.” Laura beams.