Argentinian Francisco Smoje’s table at Byron Bay

Argentinean chef Francisco Smoje brings to the Byron Bay area a series of pop-up dinners at Coorabell Hall on the ridge overlooking the bay, opening on Sunday, July 15. The dinners will comprise communal dining where you share a table loaded with amazing dishes with your neighbours and friends. Sourcing a wide range of local produce, Francisco will cook a four-course mystery feast.


Moving to the Northern Rivers from Sydney began with the dream of a lifestyle change for him and his partner/nutritionist Emma Byrne, after years of experience with some of the best restaurants in Sydney and a varied and experimental cooking career from Fine dining in Yachts to kneading bread in a backstreet sour dough bakery.

Francisco has also found himself learning much more about produce in general. “When you are a chef and work in the city, no matter how many books you read or how many movies you watch to educate yourself, when you go to a farmers property and watch the tomatoes grow, it gives you a further understanding of food,” he says.
Born into an intellectual and bohemian family, his father is a notable Argentinean artist and now directs one of the country’s major institutions, The Palais de Glace. Francisco was encouraged to explore his own ideas from a very early age. Food too was an important part of everyday life.
“My father is a brilliant cook. I always had a space to play in the kitchen, as an Argentinean family we ate a wider range of spices than the average family,” he says.

He came to Australia aged 21 and quickly established a culinary career, working as an apprentice at the three-hat Rockpool in Sydney and renowned Darley St Thai where he learned the unique blend of multicultural influences and flavours that were defining the Australian restaurant trade. After a few years of travelling, Francisco came back to Australia as his life-long love affair with cinema inspired a foray into film catering that he still does from time to time. He has cooked for Ewan McGregor, Nicole Kidman, Dennis Hopper and Jeffrey Rush to name a few. Now aged 37, Francisco believes he has found home (at least for a few years) on NSW’s north coast.
“I ideally wish to produce my own food from scratch. To grow, harvest and process it gives one a great sense of satisfaction. You go and milk your goat, then from that milk you make your cheese, and from that cheese you make a dish… it’s magical. To share that with the dinners I do, is to share my passion of food with others.”
Francisco’s Table opens at Coorabell Hall on July 15, then August 5 and August 26. $A55 per person, BYO. For bookings: francisco.food@gmail.com or phone 0416057705.

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