Growing up, chef Timon Balloo was always surrounded and influenced by his own personal heritage as well as the neighborhoods of the San Francisco Bay Area. His parents of Chinese Trinidadian (mother) and Indian Trinidadian (father) decent introduced him to flavors and techniques that would carry over to his post at one of Miami’s hottest spots, SUGARCANE raw bar grill in the city’s Midtown district.
“Growing up there would be a lot of trips to Chinatown and I was raised with my mother so a lot of times her dinner growing up would be like Asian stir-fry with the West Indian influences. You just see the spices come through,” remembers Balloo.
Between the constant smells in the house and watching “Yan Can Cook,” Balloo knew in his heart that he wanted to be a chef but didn’t think it was attainable so he pursued a career in finance instead after high school.
His passion would eventually resurface and after the encouragement of his girlfriend at the time who is now wife, Balloo started to pursue his dream and never looked back working with leading chefs in some of the country’s top kitchens.
Today as the executive chef and partner of SUGARCANE, Balloo is infusing his heritage and experiences in the restaurant that features three kitchens that deliver three different culinary experiences. From small plates to fresh seafood and selections hot off the grill, each menu item is intentional using ingredients that are seasonal.
“In each kitchen, we highlight the ingredients and the technique,” shares Balloo who says patrons will see influences from the Caribbean by the cuts of meat selected, the stewing, brining and marinating. “When I was young, my mother would always marinate meats for a while and it is funny how that crosses into formal training. We’re brining our chickens, we're curing almost every cut of meat from oxtail to duck legs so that is really the Caribbean part of it. And the Asian part is really the nuances of sweet and sour and definitely texture.”
The menu truly won’t disappoint and has something from everyone whether you like to keep it simple with the Five Spice & Honey Spare Ribs or get a little adventurous with the Beef Tongue Carpaccio Scallion Relish with Crispy Rice.
Next month, Balloo will return to the South Beach Wine & Food Festival on February 20 for the event Surf & Surf: A Sustainable Seafood Dinner hosted by Todd English and Allen Susser. Tickets for this event and the rest of the festival are on sale now.
SUGARCANE raw bar grill is located at 252 Northeast First Avenue in Miami. For more restaurant information, visit www.sugarcanerawbargrill.com.
For more about Balloo and what he is up to next, visit his website at www.timonballoo.com.