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Festival Dates: Feb 20-23, 2014

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More Timon


Executive Chef & Partner, SUGARCANE raw bar grill

Born to Chinese and Trinidadian parents, Timon Balloo's scrapbook of memories leads with days on the farm, ethnic recipes and a favorite pastime of watching not-so-traditional childhood television - PBS' Yan Can Cook. So, in 1998 when Balloo enrolled in Johnson & Wales University, it came as no surprise to family and friends that he would pursue a career behind the stove. While Balloo has since been recognized as a Distinguished Visiting Chef (2012) by the University, his first real lesson in the kitchen was on humility, taught by "Professor” Allen Susser. "In Susser's kitchen, you were broken down and then built back up,” Balloo explains. "My time cooking at Chef Allen's gave me a new respect for food.” Through the international program of extended studies, Balloo traveled to Belgium to work at Hotel Métropole under French Master, Chef Dominique Michou. From Entremetier Comis (hot line) to Patisserie Comis, Balloo honed his classical culinary training skills. "The vegetables and animals would often come straight from the farm,” Balloo explains. "It wasn't unusual for us to have to skin and pluck the next dish… now that was farm-to-table cooking!” Returning to the United States, Balloo became Junior Sous Chef at the five-star AZUL in Miami's Mandarin Oriental Hotel, under the leadership of Michelle Bernstein. Identifying Bernstein as his greatest mentor, Balloo recalls, "She taught me to cook from my heart and, as such, I started to craft my own approach to food with Asian-Caribbean soul.” From La Broche in Miami to SUSHISAMBA park in New York City, Balloo cooked his way to the top, earning the title of Executive Chef. Among his favorite dishes at SUSHISAMBA was the Moqueca Mista, "It touches a depth of flavors, is simply prepared - void of 'fancy' techniques - and has personality when it enters the dining room. Food is about life and excitement, but it's also very much about integrity.” Through the use of simple ingredients to fuel great food, Balloo's signature juxtaposition of bold flavors on small plates started to take shape. A brief, one-year departure (2007-2008) from the SUSHISAMBA restaurant group resulted in a partnership with Amir Ben-Zion to launch Domo Japones in Miami's Design District. The Japanese-concept highlighted one-of-a-kind ingredients in a former post office turned restaurant setting. Though brief, Balloo's menu was awarded three stars by The Miami Herald and voted "Best Japanese 2008” by Miami New Times. An opportunity to reconnect with the SUSHISAMBA restaurant group in 2009 as the Executive Chef and partner of SUGARCANE raw bar grill (SUGARCANE) brought Balloo back to their kitchen. "I've always appreciated the brand's contribution to the industry, from the great ingredients to the warm environment.” Opening with much fanfare in 2010, SUGARCANE has been celebrated locally with a three star review from The Miami Herald; a nod for "Best New Restaurant,” and "Best Up-and-Coming Chef” from Miami New Times; and the titles, "Restaurant of the Year” and "Chef of the Year” (Miami) by Eater. On a national level, the restaurant earned recognition as a semi-finalist for "Best New Restaurant” by the James Beard Foundation and Balloo received a nomination for "The People's Best New Chef” by Food & Wine in 2011. Most recently, Balloo was honored as Distinguished Visiting Chef by Johnson & Wales University, not to mention the restaurant's AAA Four Diamond rating for 2013. Today, Balloo's zeal and vivacity continues to manifest in his dishes. Dana Cowin, Editor-In-Chief of Food & Wine said it best, calling Balloo's menu at SUGARCANE, "A greatest hits of delicious dishes.”

Title Sponsor
Food Network
Presenting
Food Network
Benefiting
FIU
Hosted By
Southern Wine & Spirits
Official Card
MasterCard
Host Hotel
Loews
Premier
New York Times
Official Airline
Delta

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