Before relocating to Byron Bay with his wife and two young daughters, Simon mastered his trade at Brisbane hatted restaurant and winner of the Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant of the Year Award, e’cco bistro. As e’cco bistro’s head chef, Simon worked alongside the restaurant’s owner and one of Australia’s most celebrated culinary artists, Philip Johnson. Working as a pair, Simon and Philip helped transform and grow Brisbane’s now thriving dining scene.
Prior to his head chef role at e’cco bistro, Simon came into his own working for Brisbane’s only three-hatted restaurant Urbane as well as Brisbane’s acclaimed and premier dining destination Gerard’s Bistro and Newcastle’s hatted restaurant Bacchus.
Simon’s world-class skills combined with a passion for wood-fired cooking to create big flavours using fewer elements, such as a whole fish cooked perfectly over charred embers and kafir lime leaves with fresh sambal, was a natural fit with Beach Byron Bay. Embracing Beach Byron Bay’s Mediterranean leanings, Simon has created menus that celebrate not only Italian-style dining but also coastal flavours, seasonal ingredients and locally discovered produce.
Overly fresh and comforting, Simon’s new food pairings are literally a snapshot of the ocean and mountains that surround the restaurant’s unique beachfront location. Simon’s commitment to bringing the best local ingredients to the table along with the freshest coastal catches and pure, soulful flavours is evident in every dish.
Beach Byron Bay is a proud partner of the Fink Group, whose portfolio of restaurants includes Quay, Bennelong, OTTO Sydney, OTTO Brisbane and Firedoor. Championing emerging talent, the Fink family warmly welcomes Simon Palmer to their culinary team of passionate individuals.
After managing restaurants and resorts in the Caribbean for several years, Ben Kirkwood and his wife Belinda made the move to beautiful Byron Bay in 1997. Their first venture was to open Toscanis, a busy little bistro in the centre of town offering lunches and dinners and becoming the first venue in Byron Bay – and one of the first in NSW – to get a “Dine or Drink” license. Toscanis also went on to win multiple awards including NSW Restaurant and Catering Association’s Outstanding Contribution to Tourism in 1999/2000.
In 2001, Ben and Belinda made the bold move to demolish the existing building and rebuild on the site with a completely new business concept, giving birth to ‘dish’ restaurant and ‘raw’ bar. This was immediately an overwhelming success, enjoying a huge devoted following and earning a glowing reputation evident in the stream of accolades, eight consecutive ‘hats’ and awards garnered. The restaurant and bar generated massive positive media and a Byron Bay favourite was established.
In 2007, the Kirkwood’s successfully tendered to the State government for the lease on the old Clarkes’ Beach Cafe and the right to redevelop the site. The process involved negotiating a long-term lease on Crown Land with the Department of Lands, lodging a Development Application with Byron Shire Council and lobbying the council to allow suitable upgrades to the facility, as well as designing and personally project managing the construction.
Since opening Byron Beach Cafe on the site in 2008, and with a rebranding to Beach Byron Bay in 2016, the venue has once again resumed its high profile in the community, quickly becoming a firm favourite with both locals and visitors to the region. Again, the couple’s commitment to excellence, their impeccable timing and ability to read the market, has helped them develop another successful business.
Ben’s commitment to hospitality has seen him take leadership roles in a number of campaigns working with various groups including Tourism NSW, Northern Rivers Tourism, Restaurant and Catering Association of NSW as well as being active locally as a board member for Byron United (Chamber of Commerce), board member for Byron Visitor Centre, Vice President of the Local Tourism Organisation (Byron Shire), Chair of Restaurant and Cafe sub-committee of Byron United and Vice President of Artscape Biennial (outdoor sculpture exhibition).
Weddings and functions have always been an important and constant part of Beach Byron Bay’s business thanks to Belinda’s energy and reputation for creating unique functions and delivering them with style and innovation. From the earliest days at Toscanis hosting fundraisers, exhibitions and small intimate events, to the ‘dish’ restaurant and ‘raw’ bar days of high profile corporate events and celebrity wedding bashes her passion, enthusiasm, creativity and energy have enlivened and ensured success and brilliance.
Belinda has a sure hand and her unerring fine taste enables every event to exceed customer expectations. She is a brilliant networker who has the reputation to harness the best and most talented team. Leaving nothing to chance, her management of every event detail ensures outstanding success. Clients can trust her to interpret their wishes and fulfil their dreams beyond even what they thought possible.
Belinda has become Byron Bay’s most highly sought after wedding and event planner. Clients, including Mercedes Benz, Optus, Westpac, Canon, Volkswagen, Rio Tinto, Hewlett Packard, Foxtel and L’Oreal speak glowingly of her consummate professionalism, personal attentiveness and brilliant organisational skills. With her wonderful team behind her, Belinda has carved out a reputation for providing faultless and innovative events.