This week’s Chef in the Spotlight is the gracious and humble culinary rockstar Timon Balloo of Sugarcane raw bar grill in Midtown Miami. He’ll probably laugh a bit apprehensively about that statement; being a rockstar; Balloo is confident and assured in himself and his craft but not a limelight seeking egoist and it is that modest quality that makes him one of the up and coming culinary treasures of South Florida.
Balloo perfected his classical culinary training skills under French Master Chef Dominic Michou at Hotel Metropole in Belgium. “The vegetables and animals would often come straight from the farm,” Balloo says. Where he and other cooks would skin and pluck their next dish. “Now that was farm-to-table cooking.”
Back in the US Balloo credits local chefs Allen Susser, who taught him how to respect food and Michelle Bernstein (his greatest mentor), who taught him how to cook from the heart. Being inspired, coupled with being a great student has served Balloo well. Accolades and recognition for his talent abound; the next paragraph is an excerpt from my book, Food Lovers’ Guide to Miami & Fort Lauderdale is no exception:
“In the same orbital manner that the earth revolves around the sun, the urban energy revolving around Sugarcane has without fail made it the go-to cocktail/crudo/dining destination in Midtown Miami. The kitchen is under the culinary direction of the rising superstar Timon Balloo. This young turk infuses and imposes his unique merger of flavors on unsuspecting foods, which results in some sort of culinary big bang theory unto itself. Balloo’s flair for the experimental gives diners one wild ride of flavors, textures, and presentation. Buckle up for some major food exotica: duck confit and waffles, bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with linguiça and manchego, beef honeycomb tripe served with kimchi, and veal kidneys with onion puree.” I present this week’s Chef in the Spotlight, Timon Balloo.
South Florida Food and Wine: Where do you get your culinary inspiration?
Timon Balloo: Reading & dining out
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your favorite item to make on the Sugarcane raw bar grill menu?
Timon Balloo: Any of the crudos
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your one go-to ingredient and why?
Timon Balloo: Sherry vinegar. It’s the perfect balance of acidity to sweetness
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the most challenging thing about your position as Executive Chef at Sugarcane?
Timon Balloo: Coming up with well planned out dishes that can withstand the volume of the restaurant
South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your last day on earth, what would your final meal be?
Timon Balloo: The whole menu at the Purple Pig Chicago. Jimmy Sr. & Jr. Banos are lovable guys and great chefs.
South Florida Food and Wine: Tell us a little bit about your Dinner with Friends Series.
Timon Balloo: It’s basically our way of inviting the guest into our house -engaging in conversation and insight on who we all are as diners and chefs living in Miami.
South Florida Food and Wine: To date, what is the one standout detail you’ve learned from one of your guest chefs?
Timon Balloo: David Bracha and his words of “just keep it simple”
South Florida Food and Wine: To date, what is the most hilarious behind the scenes mishap that has happened during one of your Dinner with Friends?
Timon Balloo: Nothing as of yet but will keep you posted
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your one guilty pleasure food?
Timon Balloo: Pizza, love it
South Florida Food and Wine: What was the last restaurant you ate at, other than Sugarcane and what did you order?
Timon Balloo: Tramshed in London and we had the whole chicken.
South Florida Food and Wine: Who would you most like to cook for? And why?
Timon Balloo: Thomas Keller, because of everything he embodies as a chef and mentor
South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your day off, what do you do for fun?
Timon Balloo: Go to the park or beach with my daughter.
Sugarcane raw bar grill 3250 NE 1st Ave Miami, FL 33127
Love the South Florida food scene? Check out our newly published book (Globe Pequot Press, $14.95), Food Lovers’ Guide to Miami & Fort Lauderdale