The bluebird is said to carry the sky on its back, but for Bluebird Kitchen & Smokehouse owners Katie and Jim Osborn, it is their Warwick community they wholeheartedly support. Every part of Bluebird Kitchen is organic in the truest sense of the word — created by high school sweethearts who moved home to Warwick to start a family and build a business, using only the freshest local produce, growing slowly as word has spread, and gravitating towards whatever their customers have loved most.
Three and half years in, business is booming. Taking a contemporary spin on American cuisine, the pair are very much about “not dressing things up too much” and looking around the busy restaurant, they are true to their word. Mismatched furniture fills the industrial-style diner space, as cosy as grandma’s sitting room, merry chatter bouncing off polished concrete floors and exposed timber walls. On-site smokers send wafts of chargrilled meats indoors, tingling tastebuds with whiffs of plump pork belly and juicy beef ribs. No corner is cut at the Smokehouse; every day serving up only the best according to Jim, who is head chef. “We will only ever put up our best. Every time we send something out to a customer, we want to be really happy with it.”
Hosting the Seasonal Feast Market Co-op each Wednesday, the pair have built a community around themselves — and not just with the people who eat their food, but those who supply it. “We’re very much paddock to plate,” says Katie. “We know the farmers who raise the cows — they eat here. We want to highlight how close those farmers are, and how produce is only grown two hours away from Brisbane.” Jim chimes in, “We get growers ringing us who have a tonne of extra eggs, and then our customers who come in who have orchards with an excess of herbs, or lemons, and we just work it into the menu.”
Then there are the meat suppliers, who work to accommodate Jim’s “wacky ideas” and consistent need for more meat. Their local butchers, Pete and Paul from Rose City Premium Meats, have stuck with them from the beginning. “They sell out because of us. I got bailed up by a customer the other day for taking all the lamb shoulders,” grins Jim.
They might be a wholesome duo, but they are very much a successful pair, tying first place overall at last year’s Toowoomba Brews and Barbie Bash, receiving an offer to attend this year’s Kingsford Invitational competition — one of the highest honours in the barbecue world, says Katie. “It’s great to have your community support you and love what you’re cooking, but it’s something completely different to have people in the industry say ‘you’re doing amazing things’ — it just takes it to another level.”
Accolades aside, it is the people who visit their smokehouse from near and far that keep the farm to fork philosophy alive, bringing people together over good food to support the farmers in the surrounding region. And with customers driving from the Gold Coast just for a brisket, Jim and Katie must be doing something right.
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