Oh La La Sofitel!

Image source: Photographer Ian Waldie

Noosa Beach House at Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort is set to shine with a new Executive Chef, mouthwatering new menu and the return of signature events. Deb Caruso finds out what’s on offer.

For George Francisco, his appointment as Executive Chef at the iconic Sofitel Noosa Pacific and Noosa Beach House is a natural evolution of a career built on a solid respect for seasonal and local produce and a burning desire to bring ingredients to life.

“I started in the USA South in the late 80s and emigrated to San Francisco and worked there for 15 years in a lot of top restaurants before coming to Sydney in 2000 where I was Executive Chef at one of the oldest restaurants in Australia, Jonah’s on Whale Beach,” he said. 

George went on to own his own restaurants on the northern beaches in Sydney and then started QT Hotels on the Gold Coast before moving to the Hunter Valley where he was head chef of Tower Estate and Robert’s Restaurant before moving to Noosa.

I first met George about seven years ago when I was providing PR services to Slow Food Noosa and he was one of the local champions of the global Slow Food philosophy of ‘good, clean and fair’ food. 

He earned the globally-recognised Snail of Approval for his free-range, nitrate and chemical-free bacon, Voodoo Bacon.

The softly spoken American impressed me with his deep appreciation for, and commitment to, the freshest seasonal produce and philosophy of no waste. 

It’s no surprise that he had been a Slow Food champion in other countries long before coming to Noosa. 

“The whole Slow Food movement resonates so strongly with me,” he said. “It’s just what I do.”

Perfect timing and a change in circumstances sees George take on the role of Executive Chef at Sofitel Noosa Pacific and Noosa Beach House  – and the only place where Voodoo Bacon lovers will be able to get their fix.

“I’m continuing the ethos that has steered my career – no preservatives, low food miles, organic and free range wherever possible but most importantly, using all the local suppliers that we all know and love,” George said.

Being a local small food supplier, George appreciates how much work goes into creating produce and how important it is to the local economy and food scene.

“It’s funny how things turn out because Noosa Beach House at Sofitel is the only place in Noosa that I wanted to work at since I moved here,” he said. “I’m not even kidding! It’s the only place I thought I could make an impact and have the vision to do what I want to do.”

So what does George have in store? Naturally there will be a strong focus on seasonal and local.

“I let the farm write my menu for me,” he says “What’s in season, what ingredients can I get and what’s the best dish I can make from these ingredients? That’s just the way it should be done. 

“I’m really excited because coming into a new place I wanted to bring all my best dishes so I started going through my recipes from years ago and choosing some of my favourites.

“It’s been fun to revisit those dishes and have them come out just as you remember them; even the olfactory senses were ignited – the taste, the smell; it’s how I remember it. 

“I think that validates the food when a dish can still elicit that reaction. 

“Some of the dishes I haven’t made in six or eight years and then to go blindly into making them again and have it come out and remember the smell and remember the taste – it just takes you back. 

“It’s like being reunited with an old friend and that’s one of the coolest things about cheffing.”

One of the dishes George is most excited about is a Duck Roulade of duck breast wrapped in Jamón. Think duck breast filleted thinly with no skin; layered with a couple of slices of Jamón and wrapped in the skin from the neck of the duck; poached for two hours and then crispened in a pan. 

I’m salivating!

“The amount of technique in this dish is amazing but it’s just so beautiful,” George said. “It’s a bit like making a duck and pistachio sausage the old French way but I’ve taken it to the next level. It also has baby beetroot, powder of star anise, aioli, a beautiful jus and beetroot greens with Voodoo Bacon – of course.

“A lot of the dishes I have chosen for Noosa Beach House already feature local produce such as a dessert dish that stars local pineapple; it’s perfect for Queensland and the Sunshine Coast. 

“It’s the right dish at the right time in the right place.”

George will also tap into his American heritage with the new menu including foods from a smoker such as southern-style brisket and pulled pork, particularly in the Noosa Beach House Bar.

Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort General Manager Mark Wilkinson said one of George’s strengths was his ability to get the best from people he works with.

“Nurturing local talent and bringing local ingredients to the fore are just some of the reasons we are excited about this new direction,” he said. “We have no doubt Chef George will focus on the amazing local ingredients our region has to offer to deliver an outstanding dining experience.”

“It is part of our ethos to live the French life, which includes a strong commitment to local flavours,” he said. “We take our responsibility as one of the largest employers in Noosa very seriously and are committed to support our community and ensuring everyone wins.

“Noosa Beach House is already a great restaurant and we’re looking forward to making it even grander.”

Noosa Beach House has long been known for exceptional, fun, joie de vivre events – and this year, finally, events will be back. 

Not only does this herald the return of the ever-popular Champagne lunches but look out for the pop-up Oyster Bar, live music, and live stations from time-to-time.

With a new menu and signature events bringing excitement and energy back to one of Hastings Street’s most iconic venues, we’re in for a fun and flavoursome year ahead! 

Sign up to Noosa Beach House’s e-newsletter for more details or keep your eye on social media for details.

About the Author /


Deb has 25+ years' experience providing strategic communications and brand reputation advice to clients in the government, business and not-for-profit clients. She is passionate about Noosa and is an active member of her community, providing PR to Slow Food Noosa and other clients. Her passion lies in working with small businesses to help them succeed. She is planning to release the Tastes of Noosa cookbook with Matt Golinski in 2019.

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