Francisco’s Table is born from a culinary journey that combines the lives of its founders Francisco Smoje and Emma Byrne. For 20 years Argentinean born Francisco and his Australian partner Emma have shared their lives through travel, family and a dedication to good health and fine fare.
Francisco arrived in Australia as an aspiring 21-year-old chef on a culinary quest to experience different kitchens around Australia. He discovered the thriving Australian food scene through stints in Sydney and Melbourne restaurants, landing a coveted position at David Thompson’s Darley Street Thai that awoke a passion for the complexities of pure Thai cuisine.
Francisco met Emma in 1996 and they fell in love over a shared hunger for adventure, surf and good food. Traveling together they worked in New York, London, the South of France and the Greek Islands. Francisco cooked on luxury yachts, in villas and in restaurants while working side by side with Emma as host. On return to Sydney, Francisco combined his love for cinema and cooking to chef in film catering - a dream combination that saw him catering for long time screen idols like Ridley Scott, Dennis Hopper, Jane Campion and Geoffrey Rush.
It was during breaks between filming schedules that Francisco and Emma were inspired to initiate their first pop-up events, taking over spaces in an underground dining movement that was spreading across the city. Pop-ups at Cafe Giulia in Chippendale, Jed’s in Bondi Beach and Luxe bakery in Newtown showcased the refined flavours and humble simplicity for which Francisco’s food is cherished. These communal dinners were devoted to high quality produce and flavour with minimal manipulation of food, presenting a delicious yet uncomplicated gastronomy. The pop-ups were a welcome shift from traditional restaurant dining in Sydney. Finding a niche in the guerrilla dining scene of Sydney enabled the couple to promote nourishment and decadence using local and seasonal produce. This is something they continue to do today at every Francisco’s Table.
The move to Byron Bay in 2011 was a natural evolution, with Emma yearning for a quieter, less complicated country life surrounded by nature. The area was a good choice for Francisco as he could be part of a thriving and inspiring food scene whilst having access to the cinema and film industry on the Gold Coast. The Byron Shire quickly became home in a marriage of community, nature, food and nutrition.
Francisco and Emma held their first Francisco’s Table dinners at Coorabell Hall – a small, charismatic community venue facing north towards the Byron Bay coastline. Over three consecutive Sundays their first tables were sell outs and they haven’t looked back!
Now an integral part of the food community around Byron Bay their key philosophy is knowing your food provenance. Emma and Francisco spend time getting to know their local growers, producers and farmers - many of whom they now call friends. They both agree that cooking is even more satisfying when you know who has grown your food and what farm it is from. Francisco’s Table pride themselves on the element of surprise. The menu is never predictable but it is always abundant and based on local ingredients. For Francisco and Emma the tables are about sharing their passion for presenting local food and relaxed hospitality with their guests.
Francisco’s Tables are held across the Byron Shire in delightful country halls and settings. Emma, a qualified naturopath, has always loved herbs, flowers, and nature and enjoys transforming the old character filled halls with seasonal produce, plants and blooms creating an inviting and homely aesthetic. Her vast collection of vases has come in very handy!
Francisco’s Table has also earned a reputation for consummate catering. They specialise in weddings and private parties and offer clients a unique dining style and hospitality which makes guests feel like they are seated at a warm, family dinner with Francisco in the kitchen and Emma caring for guests as host. You may even spot their young son Oscar not far away.
That’s their story so far. Keep posted for the next chapter.
PROVIDORES & SUPPLIERS
Grumpy Grandmother Olives
Nimbin Valley Pecans & Rice
Cheeses Loves You
Jumping Red Ant
Coopers Shoot Tomatoes
Sun Coast Fresh
The Witch's Broomstick Mushrooms
Church Farm Organics
Hayters Hill Farm
The Farm Gate Providore
Byron Creek Farm Poultry
Nimbin Valley Dairy