A love of baking that started at a very young age has ultimately led to Jenelle Nosworthy making delectable treats we can all enjoy! Jenelle is the face behind Miss Nellie’s Café in Kendall – a true foodie destination, where you can constantly be wowed with changing flavours and new delights to try …
Hi Jenelle. What brought you to the beautiful Lorne Valley?
I grew up in Kyle Bay in the southern suburbs of Sydney. In August 2006, my parents made the decision to retire on the Mid North Coast and relocated to acreage in the Lorne Valley. After a period of serious illness, my sister decided to join them. So, deciding it was time for a tree-change, I sold my house, resigned from my position in Logistics and Customer Service Management, and moved to Lorne in September 2006.
Where did your interest in cooking and hospitality begin?
I’ve always loved my food and especially baking from scratch. One of my earliest memories is sitting on the kitchen counter, watching my Grandma bake. She’d let me measure out spoons of Afghan biscuits, fill the pastry tartlets with lemon cheese, and play with the offcuts of the pastry tarts, pretending I was making them too (but really, I was just eating the raw dough!)
As I got older, baking became a hobby – a way to relax on weekends. Monday mornings regularly saw me walk into the office with my latest baked treats for morning tea.
Shortly after relocating to Lorne, whilst still working as a Consultant for my old job writing Policy and Procedure documents (yawn) I started waitressing at our neighbouring Macadamia Farm – a great way to meet people from the area whilst learning about café life. This is when I found my calling and my interest in hospitality began; I looked forward to going to work every day and soon left my old job for good!
Miss Nellie’s Café in Kendall is an icon in the foodie scene locally. How was the business started?
Back in 2006, whilst working at the Mac Farm, I combined my passion for baking with my love of dogs to create Best Friend Delights (low fat handmade dog treats).
I did the hard slog, juggling my café shifts with baking at home, early starts at the weekly markets between Forster and Port Macquarie and meeting many local producers.
In addition, I began volunteering for the Slice of Haven Food & Wine Festival, eventually taking on the role of Volunteer Coordinator for three years. I met so many great people!
In 2012, an opportunity fell in my lap, when the heritage style building in Kendall came up for rent. The stars aligned, and my love of working in the café industry, together with my passion for baking and promoting local produce resulted in a giant leap of faith called Miss Nellie’s!
Initially the plan was for my sister and I to offer great coffee and a small selection of homemade treats, whilst she studied part-time and I continued to focus on Best Friend Delights.
As they say though, “build it and they will come” – and come they did! And kept coming! Within 12 months we had to sadly say farewell to Best Friend Delights and now almost six years later, Miss Nellie’s has definitely found its niche in the foodie scene.
You’re known for great coffee, lovely lunches … but your sweet treats are what I most often hear people comment about. Reviews like “the bomb” and “wow, wow, wow” are quite normal! What are some of the current sweets/cakes on the menu?
Our cakes and desserts menu is fluid, with daily specials and tailored to seasonal produce; however, there are always the old favourites that can never be removed – in particular our Lemon Myrtle Cheesecake, Caramel Tarts, Chunky Florentines and our Flourless Hazelnut Chocolate Cake.
Of course, we are also well known for our scones, which we serve with our homemade strawberry jam and fresh Norco cream. Our scone repertoire also includes date and orange or savoury herb and cheese. Approximately 50% of our cakes and desserts have also been adapted to a gluten free diet.
This month we will also be introducing our new “Café Gourmand” – a selection of petit four sized desserts served with coffee. A great way to discover our new flavours!
Where/how do you make your sweets?
We make, bake and cook all of our sweets, desserts and meals in our tiny but productive kitchen in the café at Kendall. The door may close at 4pm, but our day continues far beyond that as we fire up the oven and restock the cake fridge! Quite often an ABBA soundtrack or some other daggy music can be heard cranked up into the evening!
Our ingredients are sourced from local producers where possible, to highlight the fabulous food bowl we are fortunate enough to have in the Camden Haven. We have recently built our own vege and herb patch on the grounds and also use our own fresh farm eggs and veges from Mum and Dad’s farm in Lorne.
Tell us a bit about Miss Nellie’s High Tea …
Our High Tea is a delightful way to indulge with bespoke cakes, savoury bites and of course, our scones. From $30 per head you will enjoy a sparkling non-alcoholic cocktail on arrival, followed by a three-tier stand of offerings, together with unlimited World Par Tea and Holy Goat coffee. The petite bites are a great way of also discovering new flavours that can’t always be found on our regular menu.
At Christmas time we also offer a specialised festive High Tea. As High Teas require significant preparation, bookings are essential at least 48 hours prior.
You’ve become known as a bit of a local “Nigella” – you create food you love, that’s gorgeous, delicious, but unpretentious. What/who most inspires you as a cook?
I admire cooks like Maggie Beer and Nigella, who have made their name from a love or food, great flavours and who immerse themselves in their passion. However for me, inspiration can definitely be found closer to home amongst family and close friends who are great cooks, along with many hours looking at Pinterest, where I gain most of my inspiration.
What have been some of the new items you’ve been working on recently?
On a recent break to Noumea, we discovered Gelato filled Macarons. They were delectable! Needless to say, we have returned to experiment in the kitchen! Coming into a season of plentiful citrus from our farm, we’re also excited about our new ginger scone served with homemade lemon butter.
Interview: Jo Robinson.