About US - The story behind
private dining, cooking classes & catering
about private dining
The early years
Francis and I moved to Long Beach Island in May 2006, one quasi accountant and one classically trained French Chef, ready to make a difference and create a home. In Surf City, we realized our shared dream of owning our own deli and restaurant.
WHEN EVERYTHING CHANGED
When the pandemic hit, it provided challenges and hidden opportunities for us. Indoor dining was closed for six months in 2020. When it opened up to 25% capacity (then 50%, etc.) people were and still are, nervous about dining indoors.
During our many “what to do next” conversations, Francis would often fondly recall an annual birthday meal he created for a special customer, in his own home, and how much Francis enjoyed that kind of intimate dining experience. Hence, an idea was born about private dining: let’s bring the dining to our customers.
FRANCIS ENTERS THE PRIVATE DINING ARENA
After years of running two brick-and-mortar businesses, Francis embraced the simplicity and quietude about private dining experiences, where we could safely provide a stellar culinary experience in the homes of our patrons.
Private dining is where Francis really soars. Not bound to a restaurant kitchen, he thoroughly enjoys his craft and brings that joy directly to his clientele on a more personal level. Francis loves to meet and talk shop with people about private dining. He enjoys his customers and regales them with tidbits of information about France and the culinary arts. He encourages interaction at all parties and events!
COOKING CLASSES - A NATURAL EXTENSION
It started with multiple requests from our customers, “Can you teach us how to make this?” Next to cooking, Francis truly enjoys sharing his vast knowledge of cooking and baking with others. Soon he was teaching friends and beloved customers how to make a decadent birthday cake or that “one special meal” for a romantic dinner.
More than just your average cooking class, Francis and the students would enjoy the final creation over wine or coffee, happily enjoying some social time. We knew this would be another part of our new direction: cooking classes by Francis. Learn more about our cooking classes.
OUR JERSEY SHORE COMMUNITY
Francis and I have a strong passion and commitment to our business and our Jersey shore community. We have a very strong work ethic and high expectations of ourselves so we give only our best to our customers. It’s who we are and how we work.
This means we also care deeply about the community where we live. For years, we continue to support local and statewide non-profits and personally support events like the Lighthouse International Film Festival on Long Beach Island, NJ.
ABOUT FRANCIS PONS
Executive French Chef, Scratch Chef And Pastry Chef
Francis was born and raised in Brive, a town located in the center of France, approximately 40 minutes northeast of Limoges. He was classically schooled and trained at LEP Hotelier Souillac Lot for three years in the Southwest (a gastronomic region of France) and completed his pastry studies in Bavaria.
In Monte Carlo, Francis completed an internship at the Hotel de Paris under the tutelage of Alain Ducasse. At the age of 29, Francis became an Executive Chef at the Hotel La Grotte in Lourdes, France. During this time, an Italian restaurateur staying at the hotel met Francis, liked his food and asked him to be his Executive Chef at his new restaurant, Macelleria, in the Meatpacking district in New York City.
Through mutual friends, Francis went to work as Sous Chef at Le Chateau, in North Salem, NY before becoming the Executive Chef at La Cote Basque in May 2004, home of Jean Jacques Rachou, another old-world chef from the South West of France.
coming to long beach island
Francis came to Long Beach Island in May 2006 as the owner of A Little Bite of Italy and in 2012, Executive Chef & Pastry Chef of his own restaurant, Francis’.
After 16 seasons, Francis sold the Surf City property in November 2021 and moved into the private dining realm, serving Long Beach Island, the Jersey shore, North Jersey, New York and beyond.
Francis relishes this new phase of his culinary career, all about private dining, finding it both challenging and genuinely rewarding. This direction allows him to constantly create new plates, dip into his eclectic catalog of plates & tweak dishes that are tailored to his customer’s tastes.
During his spare time, Francis loves fishing with friends, making flies for his fly fishing, woodworking and traveling with wife and partner, Debra.